With the 2017 fantasy football season right around the corner, what can owners expect from New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee?
After sharing a backfield with LeSean McCoy on the Buffalo Bills last season, Gillislee appears to be a player that is ready to break out. Last season, Gillislee totaled 101 carries, 577 rushing yards, and eight rushing touchdowns.
At 220 lbs, Gillislee is a bit of a bruiser. However, as shown by his great yards per carry average last season, he is more than just a power back.
Last season, the Patriots had a pretty good power running back in LeGarrette Blount. Blount was able to total a 1,000-yard rushing season, and he also set the single-season record for rushing touchdowns. Despite the good numbers on paper, the Patriots really never had much interest in bringing Blount back.
Even though he ran for over 1,000 yards last season, Blount didn’t do it very efficiently. His yards per carry average was below 4.0, which won’t cut it in the NFL. While Blount was useful in the red zone, the Patriots were looking to upgrade at the running back position.
While Gillislee doesn’t have a proven track record, he will be entering a great situation in New England. With a strong offensive line, Gillislee should have plenty of running lanes in 2017. While his small sample size makes him a risky fantasy pick, he also has a crowded backfield with the Patriots.
Considering the Patriots have James White and Rex Burkhead on the team already, one could be scared away by those two potentially stealing carries. Even though they will both be involved in the rushing offense, White and Burkhead will likely be doing their damage more as receivers this coming season.
With the potential to be the featured running back in New England, Gillislee has a high ceiling in fantasy football this season. At the worst, he will be an excellent goal line back for the Patriots, and on a high-scoring offense, that will bring value.
2017 Fantasy Projection: 1,050 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns.