Fantasy impact of LeGarrette Blount back in New England
The free-agent market was a bit colder than LeGarrette Blount expected, though he does maintain some sneaky fantasy appeal after re-signing with the New England Patriots Tuesday morning on a one-year deal worth up to $2 million.
While New England may not be the most ideal fantasy landing spot for a running back, Blount has found himself a home in Bill Belichick’s offense as the preferred power back on 1st and 2nd down. For those of us old enough to remember former Chiefs’ fullback Christian Okoye, it’s notable that Blount is virtually the same size (6-0, 250) as the “Nigerian Nightmare,” minus the oversized shoulder pads but with similar athleticism for a big back.
First, let’s get the negatives out of the way.
Blount is a poor pass blocker (51.7 grade) and seldom sees the field on third downs or obvious passing situations (64.2 receiving grade). When he gets a full head of steam, Blount is tough to bring down in the open field with his bruising style, but in short-yardage situations (two yards or closer) he has converted only 55.9 percent of first downs and 41.7 percent of touchdown opportunities for his career.
He’ll turn 30 in December, and there’s a good chance the already crowded Patriots’ backfield is about to get a bit more crowded with two picks in the second round (Nos. 60 and 61) and two more in the third round (Nos. 91 and 96) of the upcoming draft. Blount suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 14 but is reportedly 100 percent healthy and will be available for OTAs.
As for the positives, there is plenty to like from a value standpoint.
For his career, Blount has averaged a respectable 4.6 yards per carry and 2.9 yards after contact. Last season, Blount ranked fifth among 90 qualified running backs in standard league fantasy points per snap (0.41). Including playoffs, he led the league in that category during his debut season with New England in 2013 (0.46) and again in 2014 (0.47) during the eight games he was with the Patriots after being reacquired from Pittsburgh.
In our metrics, he boasts positive grades both overall and in the rushing category in each of the last three seasons while having logged between 165 and 182 regular-season carries in that span, which translates to roughly 800 rushing yards and eight touchdowns when applied to his career averages. Blount has also been a rather consistent scorer despite his short-yardage issues, having accumulated 26 touchdowns over his last three seasons (49 games). Lastly, in 2015 he ranked 16th out of 52 qualifiers in elusive rating, causing a missed tackle once every 4.9 rushes.
Blount’s workload is gameplan-specific and tends to vary week to week. Still, despite the committee role, he’ll be a solid late-round RB3/4 depth option for those in redraft leagues. He figures to again be an attractive DFS value play whenever the matchup dictates that New England lean on its ground game.