The Buffalo Bills declined to match the offer sheet restricted free-agent running back Mike Gillislee signed with the New England Patriots, officially making him a member of the defending champs.
In 2016, Gillislee rushed 101 times for 577 yards and a career-high 8 touchdowns, chipping in a 9-50-1 line through the air as a spell to LeSean McCoy. Seven of Gillislee’s rushing scores came inside the red zone, as did his lone receiving score.
New England found a younger replacement for LeGarrette Blount, who is coming off a franchise-record 18 rushing touchdowns. Gillislee, 26, isn’t just a short-yardage beast like Blount, as evidenced by touchdown runs of 44 and 60 the past two seasons. Nevertheless, his role in this backfield should not deviate much from Blount’s utilization.
New England will continue to rely on Dion Lewis and James White in passing situations, and they’ll get the occasional spell series.
Fantasy football takeaway
There is little reason to believe Gillislee cannot top the double-digit mark in touchdowns during the 2017 season. Four of the last seven seasons resulted in Patriots rushers achieving such a feat. Yet, heavily counting on anything close to Blount’s historic 18 trips to paydirt could bury a fantasy team.
The overall volume of touches is a concern, which clearly squashes opportunity of generating fantasy points via yardage. A conservative draft value for Gillislee is in the RB3 territory, but he can be a reasonable No. 2 back, especially in standard-scoring formats.