Somewhere in the pile above, Brandon Bolden is doing work (US Presswire)
New England running back Brandon Bolden entered Week 4 with just seven carries for 15 yards on his NFL resume, an undrafted rookie, barely on the fantasy radar. But after chugging for 137 yards in a breakout performance at Buffalo, he's clearly a person of interest. It's time to assemble a dossier if you haven't done so already.
Bolden took advantage of clear, wide running lanes on Sunday, abusing the pliable Bills defense. He also bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 7-yard score in the fourth quarter, driving Stephon Gilmore backwards over the final four yards. Highlight here. There was a lot to like in Bolden's performance, if not necessarily a lot of flash. True, he received 13 of his 17 touches in the second-half of a game his team won by 24 points, but it's not as if Bolden was strictly a garbage-time star. The Pats actually trailed at halftime, and they were tied with Buffalo entering the fourth quarter.
Stevan Ridley remains the primary runner for New England — he gained 106 yards on 22 carries against the Bills, crossing the goal line twice — and Danny Woodhead still has a supporting role. But Bolden has clearly established himself, earning a variable-but-non-trivial share of the backfield touches.
"Brandon ran well, no doubt about it," said Bill Belichick after his team's win, displaying an almost human-like capacity to recognize worth in others.
If you're looking for a Bolden comp, the most obvious name is BenJarvus Green-Ellis, last year's leading rusher in New England. Both players are Ole Miss products, neither was drafted, and they're similar in terms of style and shape (5-foot-11, 220). It's easy to imagine BJGE-style upside for Bolden, if the workload ever tilts his way. The Pats may not run the ball 40 times each week, as they did on Sunday, but they'll do it often enough to assist fantasy owners. We've certainly learned that Bolden can deliver in goal-to-go situations. He caught 76 passes for 807 yards in his four-year collegiate career, so we know he's a competent receiver.
New England's schedule offers a few match-ups that should be Bolden-friendly, including dates with the Rams, Colts, Jaguars, and another with the Bills. Add as needed; use responsibly. Bolden is owned in just seven percent of Yahoo! leagues at the moment, but he'll be a popular pick-up in advance of Week 5.
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