When the New England Patriots head to Washington this weekend, a similar tactic could be at play with running back James White.
White was the leading receiver for the Patriots in their 16-10 win over Buffalo. He reeled in eight catches for 57 yards, including a decent over-the-shoulder grab on New England’s lone scoring drive. White has shown tremendous receiving ability in recent years and has become one of the top receiving running backs in the NFL.
The Patriots have had success using backs in the receiving game against the Redskins under Belichick, including both Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden combining for seven catches and a touchdown the last time the teams met in 2015. Kevin Faulk recorded catches in all three games he played versus the Redskins throughout his career.
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James White Matchup vs Washington
White has played in just three games this season but already has 16 catches for 132 yards. That’s twice as many catches as he has carries this season.
Aside from check-downs this season, White was been deployed on more downfield routes this season as we saw in Buffalo again. But mainly, he is a reliable check-down option who is extremely strong off play-action. White can block well, cut off edge rushers, and can roll off blocks to get open in short-yardage areas.
Why is White so successful? He is normally covered by linebackers who can’t keep up with his acceleration or his stop-and-go movements before and after catches. It’s what White has made his living on in the NFL and he continues to be a major part of the Patriots’ offensive scheme.
Washington’s linebackers have really struggled in coverage this season and that could continue against a Patriots team that utilizes its running backs well in the receiving game.
Not to mention tight end Ben Watson could be active for the first time this season on Sunday, which could allow White relief from his blocking assignments and more opportunities to attack the Redskins linebackers on receiving routes.
Should You Start White vs Washington
White clearly makes the Patriots a better offensive team given his two-faceted prowess out of the backfield. He can run well in short-yardage areas and excels in winning separation in coverage despite being undersized as a receiver.
Going against a Washington secondary that has struggled to defend opposing running backs when used in the passing game, White may be the catalyst for getting the Patriots offense moving on Sunday. He could not only challenge the Washington secondary but also open up space for teammates to get favorable coverage.
So for your fantasy team this weekend, you should not only start James White but expect him to put up big numbers on what could be a career-day for the running back.