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What to Make of Rex Burkhead’s Fantasy Football Value For the New England Patriots

Friday, March 17, 2017 4:17
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Rex Burkhead
The New England Patriots have been one of the most difficult teams to predict the fantasy value of their running backs. Dion Lewis led them in the Divisional Round with three touchdowns and 64 total yards. LeGarrette Blount had 31 yards and James White had just one touch (19-yard TD). In the Conference Championship Round Blount led the way with 55 total yards and a score. Lewis had 19 total yards and White had eight. In the Super Bowl it was White’s turn with 139 total yards and three touchdowns. Blount and Lewis each had 29 yards.
Blount won’t return, but the Patriots will still have a three-headed monster with Lewis, White and newly signed Rex Burkhead. At first glance you wouldn’t expect Burkhead to take on a major role, but his contract suggests otherwise as he became the Patriots’ first $2 million runner since 2010.
Burkhead had just 344 carries for the Bengals, sharing the load with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Burkhead’s 4.6 yards per carry was better than Hill’s 3.8 and Bernard’s 3.7 respectively. He caught 17 passes for 145 yards, which was less than Hill’s 21 for 174 and Bernard’s 39 for 336.
What is Bill Belichick thinking? For starters, he is not conventional. He saw something in Wes Welker, Chris Hogan, James White the list goes on and on. He has a great history of picking little known players and making stars of them. Danny Woodhead, Julian Edleman, again the list goes on and on.
What would draw Belichick’s interest? He had 31 rushing yards and 143 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns prior to last year. Why I wouldn’t call 489 total yards and a pair of touchdowns a break out year, he did show a little something. It couldn’t have been their 2016 meeting as Burkhead had just 16 yards on two carries. My guess is that his payday was in part to a fit that Belichick sees in their system and a 144 total yards effort to close out the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
Should you trust Burkhead as your RB2? I would have to say no. The potential is there, but track record is not. Plus, with Dion Lewis and James White on roster, any hold on a starting job is pretty weak. If Burkhead coughs up the ball or struggles, Belichick will likely turn to the hot hand. I’d pencil him in as a RB3 with Lewis and White serving as RB4s.  It is going to be frustrating owning any of the Patriots backs. It may be worth letting someone else have that headache.

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