As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. The New England Patriots overhauled their offense through letting Tom Brady become a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and importing Cam Newton from Carolina. What does all this mean for the Patriots’ pass-catching running back extraordinaire James White in 2020?
James White ADP and AAV:
Standard Scoring ADP: RB43, 105 overall
PPR Scoring ADP: RB31, 79 overall
Average Auction Value: $2
James White Statistics:
James White Overview:
There have been three constants to the New England offense over the last four years: targets to Julian Edelman, targets to James White, and before his retirement, targets to Rob Gronkowski. Everything else around Tom Brady in the offense swirled and changed and ebbed and flowed, but those three things stayed constant. White, for example, ranked first or second in team targets for New England in three of the last four years. He is what everyone hopes that Tarik Cohen can become. He’s a pass-catching first back who will kick in seventy to one hundred carries for a dozen yards or so per game.
That may or may not change in 2020 (you’re welcome). New England adding Cam Newton likely means that they want a QB who can run the football a little bit more than Tom Brady. That is to say, can run at all. That would likely mean fewer dump offs to James White, so fewer opportunities for him to produce through the air. It could mean disaster for James White. But also, more realistically, that probably isn’t the likely outcome here.
James White Draft Strategy:
Off the top, if your league does not reward for receptions, consider James White a complete afterthought and draft accordingly. Let him be a standard scoring litmus test: if he ends up on your roster, you screwed up.
In a PPR league auction draft, however, I am spending the buck on James White all day every day if it comes down to that price. I’d even spend $2 on him. He’s one of the most-targeted backs in the league, and that includes when Tom Brady missed the first four games of 2016. Even if Cam takes some targets, there isn’t a huge investment in James White given his PPR/half-PPR upside. We’ve gone too far away from the Patriots’ offense, and snagging James White on the cheap is a way to pay into the fear for cheap.
Best Case Scenario:
Cam Newton leans on James White and he ends the year with 80 catches and 900 total yards on 115 targets or so. He’s a top-twenty running back.
Worst Case Scenario:
We learn that Cam Newton will literally only throw to one running back: Christian McCaffrey.