Shane Vereen Fantasy 2013
Every year there are at least a handful of players that fantasy owners are completely psyched out of their minds about leading up to their drafts. This year, Patriots running back Shane Vereen is one of them.
I am the conductor steaming full speed on the Shane Vereen hype train. Long before the Aaron Hernandez fiasco, my excitement regarding Vereen’s fantasy appeal was no secret. He was my top PPR sleeper, although in his current situation I would no longer consider him a sleeper. So, needless to say, I think Shane Vereen’s forecast is extremely bright with a high chance of success.
One of the reasons for my possibly excessive infatuation with Vereen is now on the San Diego Chargers – Danny Woodhead, who is also one of a handful of players I’m completely psyched out of my mind about. Shane Vereen will essentially be put into Danny Woodhead’s role in the Patriots’ offense and probably even be relied on a little more heavily than Woodhead was.
Woodhead was one of the most undervalued, under the radar players last season in fantasy football. He finished 26th among running backs in scoring in PPR leagues and was actually in the top 15 in targets among running backs in 2012, thrown to 55 times. That was more than Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush, Chris Johnson, and Jamaal Charles. These are extremely solid numbers considering the fact that Woodhead was splitting time with Stevan Ridley, Vereen, and Brandon Bolden.
With Woodhead’s departure, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vereen had a mirror season to Woodhead’s 2012 campaign, if not a better one. Vereen is a little bigger than Woodhead at 5’10, 210 lbs. and the Patriots have already discussed using him as a wide receiver. Keep in mind, New England has lost Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, and of course Woodhead, plus Rob Gronkowski will likely miss at least the first game of the 2013 season. There is a plethora of production to be made up for in New England and there’s no better candidate in Boston to do so than Shane Vereen.
The results of Vereen’s 2012 season were nothing to write home about, but, as I said earlier, he was splitting time with Ridley, Woodhead, and Bolden. The 24 year old California alum tallied 400 total yards and four total touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving.). With just 62 rush attempts and eight receptions, 400 yards is pretty impressive. Additionally, Vereen had a noble 18.6 yards per reception on his eight catches; a testament to his pass-catching abilities and what he is able to do in open space.
This season Vereen figures to be the Patriots’ primary running back on passing downs and third downs while spotting Ridley for some red-zone action here and there. It’s not unrealistic for Vereen’s rush attempts to more than double this season while adding 40 to 50 catches.
Vereen’s average draft position as of this writing is 31 in both standard and PPR scoring leagues, according to www.fantasypros.com. That PPR ADP is too low for my liking. If Vereen plays to his full potential and is given enough opportunities he has top 20 PPR running back potential. In PPR formats, I’d draft Vereen over fellow running backs Rashard Mendenhall, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ryan Matthews, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Vick Ballard, to name a few. There is way too much talent and opportunity with Vereen to not be excited about what he can do as one of the Patriots’ main offensive weapons. Currently I see Shane Vereen as an easy flex option in both standard and PPR scoring leagues with RB2 upside in PPR leagues that should comfortably be drafted in the fifth round.
2013 Projections: 132 rushes, 588 yards, 5 touchdowns; 53 receptions, 408 yards, 3 touchdowns.
For more great content from Gridiron Experts, look for our premium memberships coming soon.