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Donald Brown: The Guy Behind the Guy

This is part of a RotoViz series of articles where we talk about players that are off the 2016 fantasy football radar, but could provide a massive return in value should things break their way. My target: “Dammit” Donald Brown

I find it pretty comical how little attention the former first-round pick has gotten this offseason after signing with the New England Patriots. I’m not convinced that LeGarrette Blount has as much standalone value as he is perceived to have. Especially in the 12th round.blount vs brown 2016 adp

I’m expecting the pocket dynamo, Dion Lewis, to make a full recovery from his ACL tear and have a top-10 running back season. BUT if something should happen to Lewis, who is no stranger to the NFL IR list, I believe it would be Donald Brown, not Blount, that would take over a majority of the touches in the Patriots’ backfield.

Now I recognize that most people are looking for volatile players in best ball leagues and not necessarily drafting handcuffs. Even so, in the Scott Fish Bowl, a scoring format that rewards RB rush attempts (0.25 fantasy points per carry). Blount was drafted 10 rounds earlier than Brown.

The 2015 San Diego run game is widely viewed as a complete dumpster fire. However, as PFF’s Pat Thorman points out, Brown was actually very effective in limited action:

pat thorman donald brown

The RotoViz Screener App conveys a similar tale of the tape. Brown had the best rushing production of the San Diego RB corps when compared to the expected number of fantasy points. Brown had more rushing touchdowns (LOL) than Melvin Gordon on a third of the carries. Considering that the majority of Brown’s carries came in the final three games of the season when the offensive line was completely decimated, his 2015 performance is that much more impressive.

chargers 2015 RBs

Donald Brown is a year younger than Blount. Brown signed a deal with $300k guaranteed (compared to Blount’s $100k). Brown is the Patriots’ most experienced, versatile running back. His ability to still run the ball at a high level, pass protect and be a threat in the passing game makes Donald Brown the much more valuable roster stash for 2016. And DAMMIT! It won’t even cost you anything.

The Guy Behind the Guy Behind the Guy (Behind the Guy?)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tyler Gaffney. It appears that we have one annual article that suggests stashing Gaffney.

You should read both of those articles on why you should pay attention to Gaffney.

I’ll just add that the Patriots have made a concerted effort to keep him around the past two seasons, stashing him on IR in both 2014 and 2015. From early training camp reports, it appears that he might be finally healthy. I think if he shows enough during the preseason he will make parting ways with Blount that much easier.

For visual evidence of New England’s level of interest in Gaffney, during the NFL Network special “Do Your Job” that aired in late-August 2015, the following screenshot captured the training camp depth chart on Patriots’ Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio’s office wall. It’s tough to make out but it has been confirmed that Tyler Gaffney was listed over Dion Lewis at some point last summer.

Gaffney

I’m stashing Gaffney in dynasty and deep redraft leagues wherever possible. The greatest trick Belichick may have ever pulled was convincing the world that “Belitricks” didn’t exist.

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