It’s been quite a year for Shane Vereen. He earned himself a nice piece of jewelry in the Super Bowl, found a new home in the Big Apple, and was financially rewarded for his career year with a $12.35 million contract courtesy of John Mara. Things are trending up for Vereen in every sense of the word, and there is a lot to love about him in 2015. He had a career year last season with the New England Patriots and he will top that and have another career year in 2015 with the New York Giants.
Shane Vereen has been supremely underrated as an NFL running back and continues to go underrated as a fantasy running back. He, like most running backs, has an injury history and joined an already injury riddled running back corps. However, 2014 was Vereen’s healthiest season and he appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career. He posted a career best in rushing, taking 96 carries for 391 yards for two touchdowns. Sounds fairly below average when you see those numbers, but it’s Vereen’s production in the passing game that should make your eyes pop. He also saw career bests in that category. He took his 52 receptions for 447 yards and made three visits to the end zone. Combined, Shane Vereen had 148 touches for 838 yards and five touchdowns. Those are the numbers to get excited about.
Vereen has been a role player for the Patriots for four seasons. He was given limited opportunities, but shined whenever the ball was in his hands. He is a true dual threat running back in the sense that he is just as good as a receiver as he is as a back, maybe even a little better. Vereen has great hands underneath where the short passes find him, but he also is no slouch when it comes to lining up on the outside as a true receiver. I view Vereen not as a running back but as an athlete who has proven he can make athletic plays.
After finishing as the RB20 in 2014, I feel it is a virtual guarantee that Vereen will finish higher than that this season. If you want to argue that he may be a product of Tom Brady then shame on you for being low on fellow Super Bowl champion Eli Manning. Manning finished as the QB10 to Brady’s QB8 last season, but they were within just four points of each other, a touchdown in terms of fantasy scoring. People can argue all day over which quarterback is “better,” but in terms of fantasy scoring they are close enough to be considered equals.
I am a big proponent of opportunity when it comes to fantasy success, and Shane Vereen has found himself the perfect opportunity to seize. Rashad Jennings is currently listed as the RB1 on the Giants’ depth chart, but that should change once training camps wrap up. Shane Vereen is a better running back than Rashad Jennings and will be more than a third down back. Second year player Andre Williams didn’t impress when given multiple opportunities last season during Jennings’ perennial injury flare up, but he did score seven touchdowns. Vereen’s biggest threat to his value will be the goal line where Andre Williams could see work, but I still think he finishes as the Giants top running back and with the best fantasy season of his career.