Rex Burkhead
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Latavius Murray
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The Minnesota Vikings closed the chapter on Adrian Peterson’s tenure with the club with the signing of Latavius Murray. While Peterson is still looking for a home, we’ll take a look at the fantasy football impact of the signing.
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Murray ran for 788 yards last year and 12 touchdowns, sharing the load with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Richard finished with 491 yards while Washington had 467 yards. Murray ran for a decent 4.0 yards per carry, but some of that success can be contributed to running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league last year. Richard (5.9 ypc) and Washington (5.4 ypc) were more effective per touch, minus the scoring of course.
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Murray did a nice job in the passing game with 33 receptions for 264 yards.
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In 2015 Murray ran for 1,066 yards at 4.0 ypc and six touchdowns with 41 receptions for 232 yards. In 2014 he had 424 yards at 5.2 ypc and two touchdowns with 17 receptions for 143 yards.
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He should see his fair share of carries as the primary running back, but will likely see his production in the pass game see a dip. Jerick McKinnon, who ran for 539 yards at 3.4 ypc and a pair of touchdowns with 43 receptions for 255 yards and two more scores, should remain the Vikings’ primary pass catching running back.
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The Vikings have made some upgrades to their offensive line, but they were dreadful last year, averaging 3.2 yards per carry as a team. Peterson had a 1.9 average, McKinnon was 3.4 and Matt Asiata was 3.3. While they will be better, it’s pretty safe to say Murray will be running behind an inferior line in 2017.
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Despite that fact, Murray still figures to be a solid RB2 thanks to his ability to get in the end zone. Asiata had six scores last year and Murray is most certainly a preferred back. McKinnon, meanwhile, falls to RB4-5. He really only has value in PPR leagues.

Eddie Lacy hurdle
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Eddie Lacy has been a major disappointment the past couple of years. He played just five games last year, finishing with 360 yards (28 receiving) while failing to score a touchdown. This is after a down year with 758 yards (188 receiving) and five total touchdowns. Despite those struggles he landed on his feet with the Seattle Seahawks.
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The Seahawks finished 25th in the league last year in rushing and 24th in yards per carry. Injuries to Russell Wilson, which limited his scrambling, and Thomas Rawls took a toll. In 2015 the Seahawks finished 3rd in rushing and 7th in ypc. During Marshawn Lynch’s run the Seahawks were a premier rushing team, finishing in the top five 2011-2014.
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Seattle’s banking on Lacy to provide that physical running style that made Beast Mode a national sensation.
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Lacy has the chops if he can keep his weight under control and stay on the field. He finished with 1,178 yards (257 receiving) and 11 touchdowns as a rookie and 1,139 yards (427 receiving) and 13 total touchdowns in his second year. Despite struggling the past couple of seasons, Lacy still maintains a healthy 4.4 yards per carry average and 29 touchdowns in 51 games.
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Lacy’s arrival puts a serious hamper on Thomas Rawls’ fantasy prospects. He came in with high expectations, but busted out on fantasy owners with 349 yards (96 receiving) and three touchdowns on a 3.2 ypc average. Christine Michael, with 469 yards (96 receiving) seven total touchdowns and a 4.0 ypc was actually more productive. Rawls will get a chance if Lacy falters, but it’s Lacy’s job to lose.
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C.J. Prosise, who finished with 172 yards on 5.7 yards per carry to go with 19 catches for 208 yards will serve as the change of pace back. He won’t be on fantasy radars either.
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I’ve been burned by Lacy the past two years. I’m not sure I have the stomach for a third year of him. He’s a risky play, but there definitely is upside.

DeSean Jackson
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A look at the recent NFL signings and their fantasy football impact.
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Buffalo Bills
The Bills signed both Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco. DiMarco will be a full back and Tolbert will be a running back. LeSean McCoy should get excellent blocking from his fullback, but he could lose some goal line touches with Tolbert’s arrival. McCoy remains a strong RB1. Steven Hauschka’s should remain a quality kicker in Buffalo’s offense.
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Chicago Bears
The Bears broke the bank to bring in Mike Glennon. Good for Glennon. I don’t think he’s the answer in Chicago. Probably the next in a long line of overpaid free agent signings at the QB position. Ahem, Brock Osweiler.
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Cleveland Browns
Kenny Britt left a bad situation with the Los Angeles Rams for a bad one in Cleveland. He’ll be a WR3-4 at best. Speaking of Brock, he won’t look any better in a Browns uniform.
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Philadelphia Eagles
Alshon Jeffery was a nice addition for Carson Wentz. He should be a WR2 with WR1 potential. Torrey Smith was a nice deep threat add as well. He figures to be a WR4. Wentz should move up to the middle of the QB2 landscape.
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New England Patriots
The Pats must be out on the Martellus Bennett Sweepstakes after acquiring Dwayne Allen in a trade. He’s a solid low-end TE1 bet if he can stay healthy.
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San Francisco 49ers
The Niners added Brian Hoyer at QB. It is not all that exciting for fantasy purposes. He’ll be a QB2 at best if he wins the starting gig. Pierre Garcon was brought in as a new weapon. Solid signing. He’ll be in WR3 territory.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs made a splash signing deep threat DeSean Jackson to pair with Mike Evans. Great 1-2 punch. Jameis Winston should take another step forward into QB1 territory next year. Jackson should be a solid WR2 as well. Washington’s passing game definitely took a hit losing Jackson and Garcon.

Brandon Marshall
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The New York Giants made a splash by signing Brandon Marshall to join forces with Odell Beckham, Jr. to give the G-Men one of the best wide receiver duos in the league.
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The clear winner in this signing is Eli Manning. He now has two top 20 receivers at his disposal. The Giants offense is heavily geared towards the passing attack and this will help. If receivers try to take Odell away, Marshall will make them pay. Play Odell without help over the top, you’ll pay. It’s great news for Eli.
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Brandon Marshall also gets a boost. He gets an upgrade at quarterback and is in a more favorable offense. He finished with just 59 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns. In 2015 he had 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. Look for Marshall to land somewhere in the middle of those two campaigns. He’s a solid WR2 going into 2017.
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You would think that Odell Beckham, Jr. takes a little hit as Marshall will command a lot of targets, but I think there is plenty to go around. Beckham had 101 catches for 1, 367 yards and 10 TDs. He wasn’t as dominant as he was in previous years, but it’s hard to be upset about his production. He should be able to match last year’s production. Marshall will take some of the attention away from Beckham. He should also push him to be at his very best
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Sterling Shepard’s value takes a hit. He caught 65 passes for 683 yards and 8 touchdowns as a rookie. I think he can match or beat the receptions and yardage totals, but he likely takes a hit in the touchdown department. One would have predicted he take a major leap in his second year, but that isn’t likely to be the case now that Marshall is in town. He’ll likely remain on the WR4-5 radar.

Bill Belichick Super Bowl
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Given Bill Belichick’s track record of plugging in veteran players, it is no surprise that Adrian Peterson and the New England Patriots have at least been linked in talks. Obviously Peterson would have to take a dramatic paycut, but as Karen Guregian mentioned in the article, he has already been heavily compensated. If a Super Bowl ring is high on Peterson’s wish list, the Pats are a nice landing spot.
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If the Patriots are going to take a gamble on Peterson, they need to be sure that it is going to work out for them.
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LeGarrette Blount ran for 1,161 yards on 3.9 yards per carry, but scored 18 touchdowns. His usage took a back seat in the Patriots’ Super Bowl run as both Dion Lewis and James White took turns as the star back. Blount finished with just 35 carries for 109 yard (3.1 ypc) with a touchdown in three playoff wins. Blount is a free agent, and could find himself too expensive for the Patriots’ tastes.
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Enter Peterson to the equation. While All Day didn’t live up to his name last year thanks to injuries limiting him to three games and ineffectiveness (1.9 yards per carry on 37 touches), let’s not forget that he ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 4.5 ypc the year prior. Peterson has 2,418 career carries for 11,747 yards (4.9 ypc) and 97 rushing touchdowns. The blame doesn’t fall entirely on Peterson. The Vikings’ offensive line was downright offensive last year. Plus Norv Turner’s play calling left plenty to be desired.
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He will turn 32 this month, but he has had just 385 carries over the past three years because of injuries/suspension. Not to mention, there aren’t many players with his recovery ability or physique.
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Whether or not Peterson has anything left in the tank is not my concern regarding a fit with the Patriots. They would get a good sense of the shape he is in early on. Again, as long as the injuries have healed, expect Peterson to be in great shape. The major roadblock for Peterson joining the Patriots is his fumbling issues. He has fumbled 39 times during his career, losing 23. The Patriots simply do not put the ball on the ground. When they do, an immediate trip to Belichick’s doghouse ensues. The Patrtiots were middle-of-the-pack with nine fumbles last year. They tied for second with seven in 2015 and four in 2014.
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Keep an eye on this because of the fantasy football implications, but my money says Peterson will be landing elsewhere.

Jared Cook
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Jared Cook is an big, athletic tight end that has been full of promise, but has yet to truly break out. The 6’5, 254 pound tight end has never had a quarterback of Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to him…until now.
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Cook’s last five seasons:
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2011: 49 catches, 759 yards, 3 touchdowns
2012: 44 catches, 523 yards, 4 touchdowns
2013:  51 catches, 671 yards, 5 touchdowns
2014: 52 catches, 634 yards, 3 touchdowns
2015: 39 catches, 481 yards, 0 touchdowns
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Cook’s 12.3 yards per catch last year ranked only behind Gronk, Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, Zach Miller, Jimmy Graham and Crocket Gillmore at the tight end position. His career average is 12.8 yards per catch. Richard Rodgers catch 58 passes last year for Green Bay for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Rodgers averaged just 8.8 yards per catch. Cook will be used to take advantage of the middle of the field.
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Cook, who will turn 29 next month, has a chance to deliver TE1 numbers. He’s certainly an intriguing option.

Alfred Morris
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Alfred Morris is staying within the NFC East as he leaves the Washington Redskins to handle lead back duties for the Dallas Cowboys.
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Morris had 751 yards and one touchdown last year to go along with 10 catches for 55 yards.
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In his first three years Morris ran for 1,610 yards and 13 touchdowns, 1,275 yards and 7 touchdowns and 1,074 yards and 8 touchdowns. Morris only has 47 receptions in four seasons for 365 yards so don’t expect him to take on a more dynamic role, but he should still be able to pound the ball with a great offensive line.
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Despite his decline each season Morris is just 27. He’ll share the load with Darren McFadden, but Morris’ presence should mean fewer carries for McFadden, though he should remain active in the passing game.
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Morris could be a RB3 or RB4 with upside if McFadden lives up to his injury prone history.

Coby Fleener
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For the most part the free agent signings  thus far won’t have major fantasy implications. The quarterback market and wide receiver market are soft. The running back and tight end markets have a little more intrigue. One potentially exciting signing is Coby Fleener going to New Orleans.
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Fleener caught 54 passes last year with 491 yards and three touchdowns. It marks the third straight season of at least 50 catches for Fleener. In 2013 he snagged 52 passes for 608 yards and in 2014 he caught 51 for 774 yards and eight touchdowns.
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Fleener’s production has been limited over the years because of Dwayne Allen’s presence. In New Orleans he’ll get a chance to play more snaps and secure more targets. Plus, Drew Brees has a history of making stars out of tight ends.
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Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham have been two of the most prolific tight ends with Brees. Ben Watson set career highs last year with 74 catches for 825 yards and  six touchdowns despite turning 35 in December. Fleener will be 28 and entering his prime. He is very much on the TE1 radar.

Matt Forte
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Busy first day of NFL free agent action.
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Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans – My expectations are for Brock to flop for Houston. He’ll help DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s a low-end QB2 at best.
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets – Forte is a nice replacement for Chris Ivory. He should remain in the RB1 mix.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars – We spoke about him earlier, but this move makes little sense with T.J. Yeldon entering his second year. Hurts both values.
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston – Miller has every opportunity to remain a fantasy force. He’ll also be in the RB1 mix. Nice fit for Miller.
Travis Benjamin, WR, San Diego Chargers – Gets upgrade at QB. Nice landing spot. Should be on the WR3 or WR4 radar.
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions – Nice landing spot as Megatron retired. He’ll pair with Golden Tate for a solid 1-2 punch with TE Eric Ebron picking up some slack as well. WR3 material.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers – Nice option to replace the retired Heath Miller. TE1 potential with Big Ben.
Ben Watson, TE, Baltimore Ravens – Leaving Drew Brees will hurt his value. TE2 at best.


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