5. James White
As dicey as it can be drafting a Patriots running back in fantasy, it’s hard to ignore the kind of year James White just had.
He set new career highs for himself in just about every major statistical category, ultimately finishing with a stat-line that read 94 rushing attempts for 425 yards and five touchdowns, at a clip of 4.5 average yards per rush. As a receiver, he made 87 catches for 751 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
That combined production was enough to vault the fifth-year runner out of Wisconsin to the No. 11 spot in standard scoring amongst running backs by season’s end. For PPR players, White was even better – he finished No. 7 overall, ahead of much flashier names like David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, and Joe Mixon.
Of course, the obvious knock on White isn’t what he’s capable of doing when he’s on the field; it’s what happens to him when his fellow teammates in the New England running backs room are healthy.
As ESPN notes, White was the No. 6 running back in all of fantasy through Week 9 of the 2018 season. Then Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead returned from injury and made their way back into the fold, and suddenly White cratered all the way to No. 27 from Weeks 10-17.
As a FLEX option though, it’s difficult to argue against White’s obvious virtues and value.
He offers real upside as a young player who hasn’t missed any significant time in four of his first five seasons to injury, plus he’s extremely competent both rushing out of the backfield and rolling out as a receiver in the flat. More importantly: Brady, Belichick, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels all obviously trust White with the keys to the Patriots’ Porsche; just re-watch tape from New England’s historic comeback in Super Bowl 51 if you need any proof.