Patriots RBs not smart fantasy options as Steven Ridley fumbles and Shane Vereen finds niche

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have a murky situation at the running back position. We break down the fantasy implications.

The New England Patriots running back position continues to be tumultuous and ultimately confusing. The team clearly wants Stevan Ridley to be the primary ball carrier, but after a fumble led to a Denver Broncos touchdown on Sunday night, he found himself on the bench again. Then his backup, LeGarrette Blount, found himself fumbling and similarly benched.

That left Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen to carry the load for the remainder of the game, oddly enough. The two did just enough to help the Patriots to victory, as New England won 34-31 in overtime. Bolden led the way with 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, becoming the workhorse in the second half.

But Vereen added 10 carries for 31 yards and eight receptions for 60 yards. That's pretty consistent with what's expected of Vereen at this point -- he'll rush for a bit and beat opposing teams with his receiving ability. Vereen is only two games back from his injury that forced him to miss eight games this season, but he's quickly finding his place in the offense.

Fantasy Impact: If there's anything to take from this game, it's that Ridley can't be trusted to carry a fantasy team. After a very impressive 2012 campaign, Ridley is struggling with just 576 yards and three fumbles. He does have seven touchdowns, but if guys like Bolden and Vereen are carrying the load, Ridley is no longer a dependable fantasy option. Vereen might be a player to watch going forward, but for now, New England running backs seem like something to avoid in crucial fantasy matchups.

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