The New England Patriots’ running game looked to be in shambles Sunday against the Carolina Panthers with Rex Burkhead out. Fifth-year back Dion Lewis joined the committee of Mike Gillislee and James White and was the only rusher to score a touchdown in the game. He did not do much else outside of that, carrying the ball four times for 18 yards. Lewis did take three goal-line snaps that would normally go to Gillislee in the contest.
The Patriots’ struggles running the ball are not going to get easier Thursday night. Tampa Bay is the third-best defense against the run in the NFL, only allowing 236 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns so far this season. The Buccaneers were without some key pieces at linebacker and safety in Week 4, but they held the New York Giants’ best rusher to 42 yards on 11 carries in the win.
Fantasy impact: Lewis’ new red zone attempts do not mean he has jumped up the depth chart. The Patriots are trying everything to create a spark in their run game so Lewis got some chances, however, there are no guarantees he will see this much action again. Deep league owners may roll the dice on Lewis, but otherwise, there is no reason to use him Thursday night.