The 2014 fourth-round pick finally began to gain the confidence of Tom Brady and the Patriots' coaching staff last year, after barely seeing the field as a rookie and getting minimal snaps on offense in 2015. Even before his huge performance in the Super Bowl, the result was career-high numbers nearly across the board, as well as third-place finishes in both receptions and receiving yards among all NFL running backs. Even Dion Lewis' return in Week 11 didn't slow him down, as White caught at least three passes in every regular-season game after Lewis was back in the lineup. At 5-10, 205, White is perhaps a touch too small to be a reliable early down option, and he lacks the speed or power to make a consistent impact on the ground. However, his sure hands and sharp route-running have endeared him to Brady, and he has the elusiveness and balance to pick up extra yards after the catch. The competition for touches will be cutthroat between Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee and White, but the latter may well be the most consistent week-to-week performer of the bunch, given his apparently secure role on passing downs.
Following the season-ending knee injury to surprising 2015 success story Dion Lewis, White emerged as the Patriots' primary pass-catching back, en route to hauling in 40 passes for 410 yard and four TDs, to go along with 22 carries for 56 yards and two rushing TDs in 14 games. With Lewis' recovery from his torn ACL stalled in advance of the coming season, White's role with the Patriots in 2016 should be key as long as Lewis is out. With that in mind, look for White to pick up some added carries out of the gate this season, but look for the team's power backs, notably LeGarrette Blount, to see most of the team's early-down work. Still, in the New England offense, the team's primary pass-catching back tends to see a decent amount of targets, a situation that vaults White to immediate relevance in PPR formats.
With the Patriots having parted ways with Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley since last season, there are some opportunities in the team’s 2015 backfield. While LeGarrette Blount (who will miss Week 1 due to a suspension) and Jonas Gray are the team’s primary power backs, White is a candidate to help fill the pass-catching void created by the departure of Vereen. As a rookie, the 2014 fourth-rounder out of Wisconsin suited up for just three regular season games, recording nine carries for 38 yards and catching five passes for 23 yards. Keep in mind that as a rookie in 2011, Vereen carried just 15 times for 57 yards and did not catch a pass, so it’s far to early to write White off despite his quiet first pro season. He’ll contend with the likes of Travaris Cadet, Brandon Bolden, Tyler Gaffney and Dion Lewis for third-down/change-of-pace work, but a strong training camp/preseason could put White in a position to see a major increase in snaps this season, a scenario that could provide him with PPR utility.
An impressive and multitalented back out of Wisconsin, the compact White lacks ideal size and speed for an NFL starter, but is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield. He rushed for more than six yards per carry in his junior and senior seasons, totaling 25 touchdowns in that span, which was enough for the Pats to spend a fourth-round pick to acquire his services. However, White's fantasy utility this year will hinge on the health of third-down back Shane Vereen and the ball security of Stevan Ridley. He's not well suited to a three-down role, but Bill Belichick can surely find a use for White as a change-of-pace back.