Patriots RB Rex Burkhead missed the preseason opener and the last 2 practices with an undisclosed injury. We'll see how long he remains sidelined, but it's worth noting after he struggled staying healthy last year. Burkhead missed 4 games with a rib injury and 3 more (including a playoff game) with a sprained knee. RB Sony Michel remains out with his knee issue, leaving James White, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee as New England's healthy backs. Hill out-played Gillislee in the preseason opener and has reportedly gotten more 1st-teams reps since.
Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel will require a "procedure" for a knee injury he suffered in practice Wednesday, according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe. The recovery is expected to cost Michel the entire preseason and might keep him sidelined "into the start" of the regular season. That's obviously terrible news for the fantasy outlook of a rookie back, especially one competing with Rex Burkhead and James White for backfield snaps and touches. We'll see how sharply Michel's ADP falls. He'll likely need to get to the Round 8 range or so in 12-team drafts to be worth the risk. Burkhead, meanwhile, should climb from an ADP that has already been ascending. Don't be surprised if we start to see him regularly go in Round 4.
Update: ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that Michel had fluid drained from the knee and that the situation "is not expected to affect Michel's availability for a significant portion, if any, of the regular season." We've moved Michel down our RB rankings and Burkhead up, but we'll keep watching for any further updates on this issue.
The Patriots selected Georgia RB Sony Michel with the 31st overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s the first 1st-round RB for New England since Laurence Maroney in 2006. That didn’t work out so well, but Michel has the potential to fare much better. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry across his 4-year college career and flashed pass-catching ability with seasons of 26 and 22 grabs. Michel is electric in the open field with surprising power. The biggest concern is a lengthy injury history that includes a torn ACL and a pair of ankle injuries. This is a exciting landing spot for Michel. New England’s backfield is crowded on paper, but Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee are all role players. Consider Michel the odds-on favorite to lead the 2018 backfield in touches.
Patriots RB James White (ankle) is expected to return for tonight’s game against the Titans. He’s officially questionable. If active, White would carry nice PPR appeal against a defense Football Outsiders rates 7th vs. the run and 32nd in RB pass coverage
Patriots RB James White (ankle) is inactive for today’s game against the Jets. Dion Lewis will operate as New England’s feature back and is a good bet for 20+ touches.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots RB James White (ankle) is not expected to play against the Jets today. With RBs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee also out with their knee injuries, New England is down to RBs Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden. Look for Lewis to get as much as he can handle. He's a locked-in RB1 for Week 17.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots RB James White (ankle) is not expected to play against the Bills today. He entered the weekend questionable. With White and Rex Burkhead out, New England is expected to have only Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden active in the backfield. There's potential for Lewis to increase his goal-line chances and pass targets. Gillislee carries TD upside, though it's tough to know how big his role after he spent the past 6 weeks as a healthy scratch. He's only a DFS option. Bolden is almost solely a special-teams contributor.
Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (ribs) did not practice on Wednesday. We still haven't gotten any details on his injury, but he's obviously in danger of missing this weekend's game against the Texans. Burkhead's absence could mean extra work for RBs James White and Dion Lewis.
Patriots RBs Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis are all active for tonight's opener against the Chiefs. We're eager to see the backfield usage here, but it's a situation to avoid in Week 1 fantasy lineups in possible. White is the safest play as the likely passing-down back.
Patriots QB Tom Brady talked Monday morning about how the team will replace WR Julian Edelman. "We have to find a different way to do it," Brady said. "I mean obviously with Danny [Amendola], I’ve had that [chemistry] with Danny. Danny has been such a great player for us. Hogs [Chris Hogan], he’s had a great camp. Brandin Cooks has done a great job. Malcolm [Mitchell], when he has been out there, I have a lot of trust in him. All the backs and tight ends, we’re just going to have to pick up the slack. The production has to come from a different place." Hogan is the best bet to finish 2nd among Pats WRs in targets. But Amendola, RBs James White, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis and TE Dwayne Allen could also see volume boosts. Edelman averaged a whopping 9.7 targets per game over the past 4 seasons, so there's a lot of fantasy production to go around here. We'll be keeping a close eye on what this passing game looks like early on this season.
The Patriots "suspect" WR Julian Edelman suffered a torn ACL in Friday night's preseason game against the Lions, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. "But do not definitely know," Schefter adds. "MRI on Sunday to determine full extent of injury." These "he-probably-tore-his-ACL" reports usually turn out to be torn ACLs. If that's the case, Edelman will miss the entire 2017 season. That'd open up a boatload of targets in 1 of the top passing games in the NFL. WR Chris Hogan would stand as the most likely beneficiary. WR Danny Amendola would also see a big boost in snaps. And WR Brandin Cooks, TE Rob Gronkowski and RB James White would pick up some extra targets.
On the same day they signed Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots signed RB James White to a 3-year extension. The Super Bowl star would have been facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2017 season but is now under contract through 2020. With White, Dion Lewis and the additions of Rex Burkhead and Gillislee (unless the Bills match), New England's backfield is looking quite crowded. It's a high-value situation, but the committee could prove tough to predict week to week for fantasy football owners. All 4 RBs carry some late-round intrigue -- especially in early best-ball drafting -- though White's new deal might threaten Lewis the most. We'll be watching this situation develop into and through the summer.
The Patriots signed RB Rex Burkhead. He joins Dion Lewis and James White in the backfield. (RB LeGarrette Blount remains a free agent.) Burkhead was mostly a special-teamer in Cincinnati but flashed when given a bigger opportunity this past year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch. That included a 144-total-yard, 2-TD outing against the Ravens in Week 17. At 5'10, 210 pounds, Burkhead is the biggest of New England's top 3 backs (5 pounds heavier than White). He could be a sneaky option for early-down work, although stealing significant passing-down action from White and Lewis will be tough. As usual, we'll need to keep a close eye on the Patriots' backfield this summer.
The forecast for today's Jets-Patriots game calls for a 95% chance of rain with winds around 10 mph. That wind isn't a major concern, but it looks like this will be a sloppy game. We still don't expect the Pats to have any trouble when they take to the air, but the weather could push them further toward the run if (when?) they get out to a big lead.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (knee) is inactive for tonight's game against the Seahawks. He was activated from the PUP list, but New England evidently doesn’t feel he’s ready to make a significant impact yet. James White remains locked in as the Pats’ pass-catching RB.
"It's not clear" if Patriots RB Dion Lewis (knee) will be active for tonight's game against the Seahawks, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "Some roster juggling to be done." We'll see if New England makes any moves this morning, but Lewis shouldn't be in your Week 10 fantasy plans. James White will operate as the primary pass-catching back regardless of whether Lewis is active tonight.
The Patriots on Saturday officially added RB Dion Lewis to the active roster. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll have a role Sunday against the Seahawks, and James White remains the play as New England passing back. But we'll be watching Lewis' participation level the rest of the way.
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