Guessing which Patriots running back will be the most productive in any given week is always a 50-50 proposition at best.
Last night, Vereen led the team in both rushing — 11 carries for 43 yards — and receiving — five catches for 71 yards. More importantly, he caught two of Tom Brady's three touchdown passes and finished with a total of 23. 4 fantasy points in standard-scoring formats.
Meanwhile, Brandon Bolden finished with no carries and one reception for four yards. Promoted from the practice squad, Jonas Gray had three carries for 12 yards.
So, what does this mean? Bolden will probably go off for 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns next week while he's on everyone's bench.
Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider starting:
QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at DEN)
Kaepernick is coming off his best outing of the season with a season-high 343 passing yards and three touchdowns and added 37 rushing yards as well. Although he had a disappointing performance the previous week, Kaepernick now has three top-12 performances in his past four games and the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through Week 6. Kaepernick's dual-threat abilities help raise the floor on his production as he has averaged 7.8 runs for 40.7 yards per game this season.
QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)
Returning from a three-game (four-week) absence, Palmer put up solid numbers (250 yards and two touchdowns) in Week 6. The better news is that there were setbacks with his nerve issue and he should continue to get stronger going forward. Averaging 19.38 fantasy points in his two starts, Palmer is a solid low-end QB1 for Week 7.
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RB - Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. ATL)
While the Falcons allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they have consistently allowed strong running back performances. Through six weeks, the Falcons have allowed four running backs to finish as top-five scorers and seven running backs to finish as top-13 performers. Even though they have allowed only one 100-yard rusher, they have allowed 11 rushing scores to the position this season.
Forsett has yet to have more than 14 carries in a game, but he also has 23 receptions in six games. Leading NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.38), Forsett has rushed for a touchdown in three of six games despite having the frame of a change-of-pace back. Forsett ranks eighth among running backs in fantasy points this season and has another great chance to finish as top-12 running back this week. Based on Vegas odds, only the Packers (28.50) are projected to score more points this week than the Ravens (28.25), who are tied with the Broncos (28.25) for second most.
RB - Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (at JAX)
Far from durable, Tate returned from his knee injury in Week 5 and the Browns have not shied away from giving him a full workload. In the past two games, Tate has a total of 47 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns and has finished as the RB17 and RB5 in those games. This week, Tate and the Browns will face the Jaguars, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)
With Donald Brown (concussion) still not cleared, it appears that Oliver will have another opportunity to be the lead dog in the Chargers backfield. Oliver has 45 carries in his past two games for a total of 215 rushing yards as well as eight receptions for 91 yards and a total of three touchdowns. This week's matchup isn't all that favorable as the Chiefs have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but then again, he finished as the top-scoring running back in Week 5 against the Jets (sixth-fewest).
RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at CHI)
Miller has been consistently productive this season with three consecutive top-13 finishes and has finished as a top-18 running back in four of five games this season. With Knowshon Moreno (ACL) out for the season, we may (or may not) see more of Miller since he has yet to see more than 15 carries in a game, but he's been productive with his touches. Miller has averaged 5.24 YPC this season and is averaging three catches per game as well.
WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)
The return of Palmer allowed both Floyd and teammate Larry Fitzgerald to catch their first touchdowns of the season last week. Provided Palmer can stay healthy, we should expect consistent and high production from the third-year receiver. In his two games with Palmer under center, Floyd has nine catches for 166 yards and a touchdown.
WR - Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals (at IND)
With A.J. Green expected to miss another game (and possibly more), Sanu will be the primary (and secondary) option among the pass-catchers. While we will see a heavy dose of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Sanu, who had 10/120/1 on 14 targets last week, could approach double-digit targets once again. Even with the Bengals having their bye already, Sanu has scored the 13th-most fantasy points among wide receivers this season.
WR - Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders (vs. ARI)
A massive 20 targets have been directed to Holmes in the Raiders past two games and he has capitalized on the opportunity. In those games, he has racked up 195 yards and three touchdowns as he finished as the WR12 and WR2, respectively. While it may be unrealistic to expect him to put up top-12 numbers for a third game in a row, the Cardinals have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.
WR - Rueben Randle, New York Giants (at DAL)
By controlling the clock with DeMarco Murray and the league's top-ranked rushing offense, the Cowboys have keep their defense (and opposing offenses) off the field. That said, the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz elevates Randle to the top of the team's depth chart at receiver, but Randle has seen No. 1 receiver type of volume with at least nine targets in four consecutive games.
TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at SD)
The matchup isn't great in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, but they have faced the who's who in tight ends (as in who?). Ok, bad joke (like usual), but the best tight end they have faced is Scott Chandler, Clay Harbor or Jace Amaro (take your pick). The others are a tier or two below that level. After this week, the best tight end the Chargers will have faced will clearly be Kelce, who has scored in three consecutive games.
TE - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (vs. CIN)
Allen had three catches for 49 yards, a fairly common statistical line for him, on a season-high seven targets last week. The big difference for Allen is that he failed to secure a touchdown for only the second time in six games. The Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far this season so I'd put the odds of Allen scoring this week at greater than 50-50.
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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):
QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at DET)
If Jimmy Graham plays on Sunday, then Brees should certainly be in your starting lineup. Graham has put in back-to-back limited practices, but my gut is that he does not play on Sunday. If that is indeed true, Brees will be without his best offensive weapon on the road, where he has historically been much less impressive, and going up against the league's top-ranked defense in terms of scoring, yardage, sacks and pass defense. As you can imagine, they also have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks as well.
QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)
As noted in our DraftKings roundtable post this morning, Sean Beazley expects a huge week from Romo as the Giants focus on stopping Murray. I can see that, to a certain extent. That said, it won't be due to a lack of commitment to the run as Romo is averaging just 31.8 attempts per game this season. Even with multiple touchdown passes in four consecutive games, Romo has finished as a top-15 quarterback only twice this season.
RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (at DET)
With Mark Ingram (hand) set to return from injury, Robinson may or may not lead the team in carries. It's not clear how they will initially allocate work as Ingram is integrated back into the offense with Robinson playing well in his absence, but Ingram will eventually re-emerge as the team's top fantasy back provided he stays healthy. The presence of all three (or four if you count Travaris Cadet) means that I'd prefer to keep all of them on my bench this week against the Lions, who have the league's second-ranked rushing defense.
RB - Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (vs. SEA)
Consistency: Averaging 3.9 yards per carry last season, Stacy is averaging 3.9 YPC this season. The problem is that Stacy had 250 carries in just 14 games last season, but he has 12 or less carries in four of five games this season. Not only is the volume not there, Stacy (and the Rams backs) have a difficult matchup this week against the Seahawks, who have allowed just one running back (Murray) to reach 40 rushing yards.
RB - Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (at WAS)
It appears that Shonn Greene will miss another game so Sankey could once again approach 20 touches (had 19 last week). That said, it appears that Sankey will come out at the goal line in favor of Jackie Battle and Washington's run defense is solid. For me, Sankey is just a flex this week.
RB - C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIN)
You know who's not happy with Spiller's production? Well, I guess that's somewhat of a trick question, because who's not, right? Earlier today, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett said that Spiller is trying to "do too much." While Spiller had a season-low six touches last week, he has finished as a top-40 running back only once in his past four games and that was a mediocre RB25 performance. As long as Fred Jackson is healthy and Spiller continues to struggle, he belongs on your bench.
WR - Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)
With the exception of a strong 10/135 performance against the Jags in Week 4, Allen has exceeded 40 yards only once in five other games and is averaging just 32.2 yards in those five other games. Although teammates Eddie Royal (WR14) and Malcom Floyd (WR20) are top-20 fantasy wide receivers through Week 6, Allen ranks only 60th in fantasy points this season. We will eventually see better production from Allen, who has yet to score a touchdown, but I have him ranked just outside of my top-30 fantasy receivers for the week.
WR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at BUF)
While the potential seems limitless, the production has been limited. Patterson has just two receptions in each of his past three games despite getting a season-high eight targets last week and one carry for two yards. Patterson has finished outside the top 50 receivers for four consecutive games and WR85 or worse in each of his past two games. Like I wrote last week, I'd rather be one week too late on Patterson than several weeks too early.
WR - Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (vs. SF)
While I expect Welker to finish with more than last week's one reception and one target, he's fourth on the list of options in the team's passing offense after Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. In the two previous games, Welker had 6/60 and 7/58 on nine targets in each game, but even that production kept Welker out of the top-40 receivers in both weeks.
TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. HOU)
Going into the season, I expected Miller to be a low-upside but consistently productive (borderline top-12) fantasy tight end. That hasn't been the case. In six games, Miller had one great game (10/85/1, TE3), but he has finished as the TE15 or worse in all five of his other games this season. In fact, half of his performances ranked him as the TE30 or worse. Considering the Texans allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Miller should remain on fantasy owners' benches.
To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 7 rankings:
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