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Can You Rely on Rex Burkhead Moving Forward? (2020 Fantasy Football)

Sep 29, 2020

Well, well, well. Rex Burkhead seems to be back, at least temporarily. Is Burkhead going to come anywhere close to repeating his Week 3 monster performance this season?

I don’t need to tell you that the Patriots backfield has always been a mess (remember Jonas Gray’s 37-carry, 201-yard, and four-touchdown game from 2014 that basically came out of nowhere?), and this year has been no exception.

The table below illustrates the percentage of carries for each Patriots player this season.

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Player Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Total %
Cam Newton 15 11 9 35 34%
Sony Michel 10 7 9 26 25%
Rex Burkhead 7 6 6 19 18%
J.J. Taylor 4 1 11 16 15%
James White 5 0 0 5 5%
Julian Edelman 0 0 1 1 1%
Isaiah Zuber 0 0 1 1 1%
N’Keal Harry 0 0 1 1 1%
Total 104 100%

Clearly, there isn’t anyone that you can rely on to get consistent rushing involvement, except for maybe Cam Newton. Also, James White didn’t play in Weeks 2 and 3, so his five percent would probably jump to 12 percent or so and muddle the rest of the group even more.

Burkhead’s 18 percent carry involvement is clearly a concern, but he does a lot of his work in the passing game as well. In Weeks 2 and 3, Burkhead posted 11 receptions on 16 targets for 96 yards and one touchdown.

Burkhead played in Week 1, but he did not record any receiving statistics. That’s important. Week 1 was also the only time this season that James White played.

White recorded 72 receptions on 95 targets last season, compared to 27 receptions on 38 targets for Burkhead. Burkhead had six receptions in Week 3 last season, which was his season-high (and 22 percent of his reception total). Do you want to guess who didn’t play that week?

Correct: James White.

In short, Burkhead can clearly contribute as part of the Patriot running back rotation, but his value is tied very clearly to James White’s availability. If White is healthy or active, Burkhead’s contribution dissipates massively.

As of this writing, White continues to take time away from the team after the tragic accident involving his parents during the Week 2 weekend, and there is no timetable for his return.

Burkhead can be a fill-in for running back-depleted teams in the wake of more injuries, but don’t risk a high waiver priority or a good chunk of your auction budget for him unless you’re desperate, as he will likely take a back seat to White the moment that he comes back, which is currently unknown.

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Donald Gibson is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Donald, check out his archive and follow him @DonaldGibsonFF

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