I was very unaware that there was a DeLand, Florida in our universe. However, I know I am grateful for this city in Volusia County because it has brought us the great Mike Gillislee. After a brutally long offseason, the DeLand native performed. For all the believers that touted Gillislee to have a good season were awarded on Thursday night. The fourth year pro punctured the goal line three times for three scores. All three touchdowns coming from within the five-yard line. However, the Florida product did only rush for 45 yards on 15 carries. From this TNF matchup, I ask you to look past his mediocre yards per carry and low snap count.
Despite Gillislee’s measly 15 carries, he had eight red zone carries. James White had six red zone carries and Rex Burkhead had just one. Moreover, their three red zone scores came from Gillislee, not White.
On Thursday night, White was on the field for 43 offensive snaps but only touched the ball 13 times. Gillislee was on for just 24 offensive snaps and touched the ball 15 times. Even though Gillislee was not targeted through the air, he ended up being more efficient with his time on the field. This goes back to Gillislee’s 2016 campaign where he was rated the most efficient running back per play by FootballOutsiders.com. This website has a stat called DVOA, which essentially calculates a player’s value per play. Gillislee’s DVOA in 2016 was rated at 44.9%. Gillislee’s closest competitor was his former teammate LeSean McCoy with a DVOA of 28.3%. This stat is essential for Gillislee and runningbacks who are not starters. Backup runningbacks only have so many opportunities on the field, and the man from DeLand took advantage of every opportunity he got.
There is a reason why that Gillislee was rated as an efficient back. In his two seasons as a backup for Buffalo, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. In 2016, Gillislee had 101 carries for 577 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. That is why I said don’t panic at the fact that he only averaged 3.0 yards per carry against the Chiefs. Kansas City possesses one of the best pass rush and run defenses in the NFL. It would have been a ballsy move to start him this week against a remarkable defense like Kansas City (I say this because I, unfortunately, didn’t even start him).
This is the most important part of this blurb about the man from DeLand; it seems as if Bill Belichick trusts him. Gillislee did not convert on a fourth and one in the first half, and it took him two tries to get into the goal line from the two-yard line. Nonetheless, Belichick did not put in James White, Rex Burkhead or James Develin. The cynical sweet hearted soul of Bill Belichick kept giving Mike Gillislee the goal line work.
Gillislee could very well be the next LeGarrette Blount for the Patriots offense. He is off to a phenomenal start, and it will only continue to get better. For myself, Gillislee is locked in as RB2. If you can still get him for this value, then you should immediately go and trade for him.