Investing in the Patriots backfield has been an exercise in frustration for the last couple of years and I don't blame you if it's a bottleneck you simply don't want to deal with. But with the Fred Taylor(notes) news coming down Thursday afternoon – he's headed for right-ankle surgery – we're at least obligated to take a look at this complicated running-back mix and see if there's any fantasy relevance to be had.
Sammy Morris(notes) is flying off the waiver wire in medium and deeper leagues and there's a case to be made here. While he's spent most of 2009 playing fullback, the Pats handed him 11 touches against Baltimore last week and he made something with them (6-21 rushing with a touchdown; 5-35 through the air). Morris has always been Bill Belichick's type of player, a reliable and versatile vet that doesn't complain about his role – and if I had one shot at this backfield committee, this is where I'd look first. (Morris also ripped through the Broncos for 138 yards and a touchdown when the teams met last October, but given how quickly things change in the NFL, it's probably not that important.)
Kevin Faulk(notes) should continue to get third-down work and the occasional carry as a change-of-pace back but he's only averaging six touches per game over the last three weeks and the Patriots have never really viewed him as someone you can use in a featured role, even for short weeks at a time. In short, Faulk is who we thought he was – ocasionally flex-worthy as a temp, but not someone you hire full time.
Laurence Maroney(notes) continues to be an enigma and he's coming off a seven-carry, six-yard stinker against Baltimore last week. He's sparingly used as a receiver (seven catches over his last 20 games). It's sure looks like the Patriots have soured on him.
The wild-card in the mix is BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes); he'll slide up the depth chart and might dress for the Denver game. He had some moments in the summer and also in 2008 (scoring five times in six weeks in the middle of the year). There's not enough upside to Green-Ellis to justify a speculation pickup, but at minimum put him on your radar and make note of what his initial role turns into.
Bottom line to all this, gamers? I'd grab Morris if he's still available to you. Come Week 7 against the Bucs, you might be pretty happy to have him rostered.