Earlier this year, the New England Patriots re-signed running back James White. The three-time Super Bowl champion returns to Foxboro on a one-year deal.
White has spent his entire career playing for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Last season was a down year for White who rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 49 passes for 375 yards and a touchdown.
While his numbers were down, he did play a prominent role with the Patriots offense last season. The Patriots offense struggled in the passing game under quarterback Cam Newton. White wasn’t featured as much on third down where he has feasted on defenses over his career. That was because Newton typically ran the ball on third down.
The veteran running back also had to deal with personal tragedy last season. Just hours before the Patriots Week 2 matchup against the Seahawks, White’s parents were in a car accident. White would lose his father in the crash and his mother was left in critical condition.
This is a James White appreciation tweet.
— Cody Manning (@CodyTalksNFL) August 11, 2021
When it comes to Fantasy Football, Patriots running backs are hard to rely on. Belichick doesn’t feature just one running back. The committee of backs in New England makes it hard for fantasy owners to settle on just one.
White is a role-specific running back, he’ll get fantasy owners receptions but you’ll be punting any rushing yard stats. He saw a 14.2 percent target share last year but was a non-factor in the passing game. Newton was unable to consistently get the ball into the end zone.
The Patriots offense on paper is dramatically better. During this offseason, New England upgraded their tight ends with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They also added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
All four of those receivers will cut into the offensive reps that White will see.
White’s name is no longer sexy when it comes to Fantasy Football. Having said that, if you need a flex week option because of a bye or injury he holds value.The average running back catch in the NFL in 2020 gained 7.42 yards. If Newton can get the rock to White, he can still make plays in the open field.
As mentioned earlier, the Patriots will not feature just one running back this season. Damien Harris and Sony Michel should be the two “featured” backs in the offense. Third round pick Rhamondre Stevenson replaces Rex Burkhead and provides more depth at the position.
Gimmie Sweet Feet
Welcome back to New England James White 🔥. Never forget when he capped off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history with a touchdown in overtime 🏆 pic.twitter.com/Z3qhp1ny8O
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) March 24, 2021
Despite all of the moves the Patriots made during the offseason, there is value in White. However, you should understand he is not the same player he once. Sweet Feet will always hold a special place in my heart, especially being such an important piece in the Patriots comeback win the Super Bowl against the Falcons.
Depending on your league, White should be a late round draft pick. White is a pass-catching tailback and could be a late round steal for owners.
PFF projects White to a much higher finish (RB38) than his ADP. White’s current ADP according to FantasyPros is 180. Chris Jones’ of Couch Guy Sports released his fantasy football running back rankings and has White at No. 43.
The health of Michel could allow White to see more time than last season. Harris struggled at times to stay healthy last season for the Patriots as well.
If you draft White it’s for his pass-catching ability. He’s a play maker for quarterbacks and either Newton or Mac Jones will have the luxury of him on third down. I do think that White will see a diminished role with Newton as the quarterback, but White is not an every week start for you this season. If he is, you my friend are in trouble.
White will not be the same player without Tom Brady tossing him the rock. But White is a perfect flex option for fantasy owners looking at matchups this season to gain an edge.
Draft White, he could be a sleeper and a forgotten member of the Patriots deep running back squad.
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– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)
Feature image courtesy of Bangor Daily News