It definitely appears James White has ascended from the player force-fed 16 targets to only catch five in last season’s AFC championship game. He’s now the Patriots’ primary running back and enters Week 7 on a usage-rate tear that’s well-suited for DFS action.
The PPR setups of both of the DFS sites make passing-down backs valuable plays, and despite being the player who’s been given the most work in the New England backfield since Tom Brady returned, White is reasonably priced on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Costing $6,100 on FanDuel (half-point per reception) and $4,600 on DraftKings (one point per reception), White rates as these sites’ 23rd- and 17th-highest-priced back, respectively.
His numbers overall — 304 yards from scrimmage on 49 touches in six games — don’t scream must-click-on-green arrow. But White’s work with Brady back makes him a viable RB2 for your temporary lineup this weekend against the Steelers, who are having issues containing opposing running backs through the air.
Since Brady returned for Week 5, White’s been the Pats’ preferred back, out-snapping LeGarrette Blount 73-54 in that span. The third-year pass-catcher/sporadic runner caught 12 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in Pats victories over the Browns and Bengals and received 12 handoffs in that span as well.
The usage is Theo Riddick-ish, but imagine if Riddick had Josh McDaniels’ system in which to operate while catching passes in an offense housing Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Bring that enthusiasm down a level and you get White, who is moderately talented but dropped into a system that receives consistent production from this spot — as Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and Dion Lewis showed.
White’s also been targeted 15 times, slotting in just behind Gronkowski (17) and Edelman (16) in the Brady games, so he’s a key figure in how the Patriots are moving the ball in their October sojourn through the AFC North.
Pittsburgh has given up a fair amount of yards to pass-catching backs this season, allowing the third-most receptions (37) and air yards (386) to running backs this season, per Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com. This could profile as a Blount game, with Ben Roethlisberger absent, but White’s floor remains heightened due to the opportunities he has thanks to Brady and McDaniels.
Blount needs touchdowns to be valuable in DFS; White can operate like a lesser Riddick in a better workplace and still be a contributor to a successful DFS team even if he doesn’t hit paydirt.
White did score twice last week, however, and doesn’t have any competition for this job in New England. So here’s betting he’ll receive enough chances to keep his steady month going and keep hold of this job until Lewis returns, which doesn’t look to be soon.
The Steelers have allowed three running backs — Giovani Bernard, Bilal Powell and Darren Sproles — to record at least six receptions, with the Bengals’ and Eagles’ outlet options hitting the 100-yard plateau, which is not exactly easy to do, as season-long owners of these types of players can attest. Again, White is not Bernard or Sproles, but he plays in a better system to accentuate his middling skill set.
There doesn’t appear to be too much of an impediment to White being involved enough to keep his production going Sunday. It might even be better for you not to watch him play and become somewhat discouraged by the lack of Sproles- or Bernard-esque moves he possesses.
But keeping up with this game from afar should see some nice point spikes when Brady throws the ball his way.