Giants Sign Shane Vereen
Dating back to the NFL Combine, the Giants were rumored to be interested in finding a running back who excels in the passing game. They were linked early on to Antone Smith and Roy Helu, but after the Patriots failed to re-sign Vereen before the legal tampering period began, the Giants set their sights on a more proven target.
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Entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2014, Vereen put together his first injury-free campaign. He set career highs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards. Before last season, Vereen had missed 22-of-48 games with the Patriots.
Through 16 games, Vereen managed 838 total yards and five total touchdowns while adding 52 receptions. He finished as the RB29 in standard leagues and the RB21 in full-point PPR leagues.
Vereen saw over 50 percent of the offensive snaps in only eight of the 16 regular season games and he finished the year having handled 606-of-1,155 total offensive snaps. With the Giants, he joins a backfield that is quite crowded. Rashad Jennings only counts $2.8 million against the cap and releasing him would result in over half of that designated as dead money. He will most likely return ahead of promising sophomore Andre Williams, who improved down the stretch of the 2014 season in Jennings’ absence.
Most believe that the Giants will utilize some kind of three-man rotation, but there is also the possibility that they use Vereen on the field with one of the other backs. Vereen could be utilized in a hybrid H-back role and motion out into the slot to take advantage of mismatches.
Based on his running style, some have said that Vereen was miscast as a Patriot where the offensive scheme utilizes more power-blocking plays than most offenses in the NFL. McAdoo leans more heavily on zone runs. Here is a great example of one of McAdoo’s zone runs working to perfection during the Giants’ preseason game against the Steelers.
Of course, the Giants brought in Vereen to specialize in the passing game and he is likely to see the vast majority of third down work. He is solid in pass protection, allowing just four total pressures on 56 pass block snaps last season. He also finished with a very low drop rate on his way to 53 receptions on 56 catchable passes. Throughout the 2014 preseason and before Jennings went down with an injury, McAdoo utilized the running back in the passing game. Last season, I wrote about how often McAdoo would ideally like to do just that.
Moving into an offensive scheme that better suits his skill set should benefit Vereen, but a crowded backfield combined with his injury history make him a risky investment in redraft leagues. In standard leagues, it might take an absence from the injury-prone Jennings to ever feel safe starting Vereen. In PPR leagues, he should settle in as more of a back-end RB2.
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Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he also covers the NFL for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.