Vereen Lands on Short-Term IR

Nick Mensio
As the 2015 NFL offseason kicks off, Evan Silva analyzes each team's top needs while ranking the league's rosters 1-32

Team Needs and Roster Rankings

As the 2015 NFL offseason kicks off, Evan Silva analyzes each team's top needs while ranking the league's rosters 1-32

The Patriots placed Shane Vereen on injured reserve/designated for return on Tuesday. On Monday, it was reported that Vereen would only miss 2-3 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a small broken bone in his wrist. It’s obviously much worse than that. Vereen can return to practice in Week 9, but can’t play until Week 11 because the Patriots will be on their bye in Week 10.

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It’s a big blow for the Patriots, who will also likely be without Danny Amendola (groin) and Rob Gronkowski (back) tomorrow night against the Jets. Amendola and Gronkowski will obviously be back before Vereen, but the point is the Patriots are going to be really short on playmakers for at least a week or two.

Stevan Ridley, who was benched in favor of Vereen after losing two fumbles against the Bills in the opener, will now reassume lead-back duties in New England. He could even see some action on third downs, though it would seem to make more sense to let Leon Washington handle that role. Washington played on a lot of passing downs for the Seahawks last season. LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden are next up on the depth chart behind Ridley for early-down carries. Both of them are now names to keep an eye on for fantasy “watch lists.”

In standard-sized 10- and 12-team leagues, feel free to drop Vereen. Unless your league has an injured reserve spot. Active roster spots are just too valuable. Vereen wouldn’t be back until two weeks before most leagues start their fantasy playoffs. You’re going to need all of the help you can get to qualify for the postseason. Vereen was poised for a breakout year, so it’s quite the misfortune that he had to suffer the freak injury. What makes it worse is that Vereen even played through the broken bone in the opener. The good news is that Vereen didn’t suffer a leg injury of any kind. He’ll still have all of the same explosiveness and athleticism he possessed last week.

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News Nugget #2

The Giants brought back an old friend on Tuesday. After David Wilson struggled mightily with fumbles and in blitz pickup on Sunday night, the G-Men went on the prowl for some running back help. They found it in the form of 31-year-old Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs was among a pack of free-agent ball carriers to work out for the Giants on Tuesday. He was joined by Willis McGahee, Joe McKnight and possibly Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Jacobs knows the offense, is familiar with coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of the staff, and can be a nice short-yardage replacement for Andre Brown (broken leg, short-term injured reserve) until the winter.

The reality is Jacobs has very little, if anything left in the tank. His signing is certain to send Wilson owners into a panic, but Jacobs is being brought in more as a mentor for the young back and a rock to lean on for the coaching staff should things with Wilson continue to go awry. Heck, Da'Rel Scott may even continue to act as the No. 2 back. Jacobs admits he’s not in football shape after sitting out a year. He didn’t even look that good with the Giants in 2011 when he averaged just 3.8 YPC. Jacobs is unlikely to hold much fantasy value. We remain high on Wilson. He just needs to hold onto the football and quit being such a mistake-prone knucklehead. It’s a good time to try and buy Wilson for pennies on the dollar.

News Nugget #3

Dez Bryant underwent an MRI for his injured left foot on Tuesday. The results showed a “mild” sprain. The Cowboys expect him to play this week. Whew. Bryant has avoided the dreaded “mid-foot” and “Lisfranc” injuries. We wouldn’t expect him to practice much this week in preparation for the Chiefs, but there’s little doubt that he’ll be on the field Sunday. Bryant has played through pain before. And he’s done it well. There’s really no reason to drop him on wide receiver boards. He will be going up against a couple of tough corners in Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers this week, however. You can’t bench Dez Bryant, though.

Quarterback/Running Back Slants

Coach Rob Chudzinski insists Brandon Weeden is not on a short leash in Cleveland after throwing three interceptions in Week 1. … Tony Romo (ribs) is expected to practice all week. … Michael Vick was spotted “hobbling” following Monday night’s win over the Redskins. Vick took some hits and laid some blocks in the victory. He’s in no danger of missing Week 2, though the Eagles obviously don’t want him blocking on run plays anymore. … Fred Jackson looks spryer than he did in 2012. He may be in for a bigger role than expected. Jackson is on the handcuff radar. … LaMichael James (sprained MCL) believes he’ll be able to practice Wednesday. He injured his knee in the preseason finale. James is no higher than the No. 3 back in San Francisco. … Isaiah Pead has reclaimed No. 2 running back duties in St. Louis. He returned from a one-game suspension Tuesday. Zac Stacy is the No. 3, while Benny Cunningham is No. 4. … Coach Jason Garrett wants the Cowboys to run the ball more and become more balanced this week. DeMarco Murray should see plenty of carries Sunday. … Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Isaac Redman will start Monday night against the Bengals. Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones will mix in behind him. Le'Veon Bell (foot) has yet to resume individual drills. … Ronnie Brown led the Chargers’ running backs in snaps played Monday night with 25. Ryan Mathews played 20, while Danny Woodhead played 10. Brown is not on the fantasy radar outside the deepest of deep PPR leagues. … Arian Foster played 55 snaps to Ben Tate’s 20 on Monday night versus San Diego. Foster is a weekly lock for 20-plus touches. … The Lions do not plan to limit Reggie Bush’s workload after he was nicked up during his 25-touch Week 1 performance. … Coach Chuck Pagano praised Vick Ballard’s Week 1 performance, especially his ability to pick up the blitz. It may take a bit longer than we initially expected for Ahmad Bradshaw to unseat Ballard.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants

Coach Mike Shanahan says Leonard Hankerson “needs some playing time” after his two-touchdown performance against the Eagles on Monday night. Hankerson is clearly more talented than current starting Z receiver Josh Morgan. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Hankerson overtake him by mid-season. … Danny Amendola (groin) was limited in Tuesday’s practice. He’s expected to sit out Thursday night. His status beyond Week 2 is also up in the air. Julian Edelman should be one of the top pickups in fantasy this week. … Jeremy Kerley (concussion) missed practice again Tuesday. He’s not expected to play Thursday night. … Zach Sudfeld (hamstring) and Rob Gronkowski (back) remained limited in practice Tuesday. Sudfeld may end up being a game-time decision Thursday night, while Gronkowski is almost certain to sit out. … Joel Dreessen (knee) remains out of Broncos practice.

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