Fantasy Impact: Dion Lewis Injury
Dion Lewis just had a second knee surgery, putting him out indefinitely this season. Although it’s a minor procedure, early estimates are that it will sideline him for 8-to-10 weeks. Lewis was expected to be the team’s primary pass-catching back and held that duty before his injury last year. All signs point to James White stepping into that role for the Patriots.
While I expect LeGarrette Blount to continue to be the short-yardage and goal-line back for the Patriots, White should step directly into the role vacated by Lewis. Often when a key player is injured, the workload and touches are spread around. However, I don’t expect that to be the case here. White is a very similar back to Lewis, and he should take most of the touches that would have gone to Lewis. As such, this news should not affect the value of the Patriots QBs and other pass catchers. Continue to draft and value them as you would have before this news.
What is less clear is how to value and where to draft both Lewis and White. It’s obvious that White gets a bump, but I worry about over rotation on him as well. White did have 28 catches in his last five games, however, that includes a 10-catch outburst versus Philadelphia where they were playing catch-up most of the game. If you look at the body of work over the last 11 games after the Lewis injury, White had just 48 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and 36 receptions for 384 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Extrapolated over a full season, that would equate to roughly 50 catches, 600 total yards and nine total touchdowns.
While that’s solid production based on White’s current ADP over a full season, his playing time over the full 2016 season isn’t guaranteed with Lewis’ pending return. Lewis could be out two months, but with the season not starting for another few weeks, that would synchronize perfectly with a comeback after a six-week stint on the PUP. This is a precarious position when drafting White, as you could have a player that is essentially phased out by the end of October. White is a late round draft pick, and a round or two higher if you are in a PPR league. Lewis is a late round flyer, however I have a feeling he will be back after those six weeks and could end up being a steal for those willing to take the chance. If you draft White, make sure you draft and stash Lewis as well.