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Week 16 Patriots vs Jets: Shane Vereen's Time to Shine

The Patriots just brought Jonas Gray back into the fold. Look for him to take another seat.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Some of you might be in the championship round of your fantasy football league. Some one you might be playing a Patriots running back. I can't imagine that there's much overlap between those two groups.

Earlier this season, I found a link between the running back that the Patriots feature and the opponent's defensive line. It makes sense from a conceptual standpoint, too. If the opponent has a good defensive line, the Patriots won't waste their time throwing their running backs at a wall; instead, they'll spread them out and throw the ball to their running backs. If the opponent has a bad offensive line, then the Patriots will run it down their throat.

If you remove the games where the Patriots lost (where they were behind and had to throw the ball), and looked at the games where the Patriots were able to dictate the game script, there's a 70% correlation between defensive rankings from Football Outsiders and the snap counts of the Patriots running backs.

Shane Vereen is in one corner (and I guess technically Brandon Bolden and James White). The amalgamation of Stevan Ridley, Jonas Gray, and LeGarrette Blount make up the other.

The Jets have a good defensive line. This will be a Shane Vereen game.