Patriots Sign Mike Gillislee
Michael Nazarek - 4/24/2017
Earlier today, the Buffalo Bills chose not to match the offer sheet restricted free-agent RB Mike Gillislee signed with the New England Patriots last week. As a result, Gillislee became the latest former Bill to become a Patriot. WR Chris Hogan did the same thing this time last year, and it eventually led him to a Super Bowl ring. Will the same thing happen to Gillislee? Well, that's another story, but fantasy football owners need to take notice about this player move. Why? I'll get to that in a second...
Free agent RB LeGarrette Blount is still a free agent. The Patriots made him an offer to return, but after scoring 18 times in 2016, Blount wants more money. Unfortunately, the signing of Gillislee pretty much guarantees that Blount won't be a Patriot in 2017. Thus far this off-season, the Patriots have signed free-agent RB Rex Burkhead and extended Super Bowl hero RB James White with a new three-year deal. And then there is RB Dion Lewis, a player whom might be the most talented of them all. Bottom Line: With Gillislee on the roster, the need for Blount pretty much goes away. The odds on favorite to fill his role on the team is now Gillislee. He was no slouch as a Bill, scoring eight times in 2016. Standing at 5'11" and 218 lbs, Gillislee is more than big enough to bull his way into the end zone as a Patriot inside the five yard line (a la Blount), possibly 10 or more times in 2017. Fantasy owners need to pay attention here.
Obviously, the Patriots will continue to use a RBBC, but the guy at the goal likely will have the biggest value, and that should be Gillislee. Both White and Lewis are primarily pass-catchers, especially White. And while the team used Lewis more inside last year, he was just one year removed from a torn ACL, still working to get his speed back. One year later, look for the Patriots to lean on Gillislee and perhaps some of Burkhead as the inside runners, while White and Lewis play on the edges. At this time, I'd have to rank Gillislee as the back with the highest fantasy value, especially in non-PPR leagues, while White and Lewis could be fairly close together as a nice 2-3 punch. As for Burkhead, his role likely shrunk quite a bit by this signing. He may have to work hard to carve out any kind of significant job in the Patriots' running game.
Regardless, the Patriots just got a bit better, while the Bills took a hit. With Gillislee gone, it appears that second-year RB Jonathan Williams will most likely fill the void as starting RB LeSean McCoy's backup in Buffalo. That might actually be good news for McCoy fantasy owners, since Williams has very little track record, unlike Gillislee. That might mean more goal carries for McCoy. But that might not mean much for true Bills fans if the team keeps losing. Overall, the rich just seem to get richer, while the Bills... well, they remain the Bills.
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