New England Patriots: Which running back should you own in fantasy football?

With multiple talented running backs on the roster, which New England back is the most viable option to draft in fantasy football?

Every year, fantasy football owners have the tough task of determining which New England Patriot running back is going to be the player to own that year. There are a lot of factors to look into for the position – who is getting goal-line work? Who is seeing 3rd down work? Also, who is able to stay healthy? In what seems to always be a crowded backfield on a high-powered offense, never discredit the next man up.

One of New England’s first-round picks last year, Sony Michel, appears to be the favorite. His ability to handle early-down work, as well as goal-line work makes him an early contender. A physical bruiser, Michel made his case for being a first-round talent after exhibiting work-horse capabilities in his rookie year. One of the big limitations regarding Michel’s talent is his ability to stay healthy. Since becoming a professional, he has suffered a torn ACL and had multiple procedures performed on his knee. Still, with an abundance of talent, Michel can’t be forgotten about as a touchdown-dependent RB2 with RB1 potential.

As an insurance option for Michel, the Patriots traded up in this year’s draft. New England used their pick to select Damien Harris, a running back from Alabama. Harris is a gadget player who appears to be the perfect mix between Michel, a downhill bruiser, and James White, a shifty, pass-catching back. Everyone knows that Belichick has an infatuation with players from the University of Alabama. The fact that New England moved up in the 3rd round to select Harris hints to their ambition to reward him with game-time action. If Michel was to miss time, Harris would be the immediate recipient of early-down work.

Which New England running back should be selected in fantasy football?

The New England running back who scored the most points last year was James White. White outscored Michel even in standard leagues. This was a gem for those who had James White in a PPR (points-per-reception) league. Brady’s safety blanket other than Edelman, James White was almost leading the AFC in receptions halfway through last year’s season. He did earn a significant amount of playing time when Michel was sidelined with a knee injury last season. However, that wasn’t the only reason for White’s success. The Wisconsin product is known for his skills after the catch. Alongside these talents, he can also run between the tackles. White offers immense late-round value, as there are few able to take his 3rd down/ receiving situation snaps.

While all three running backs offer value, sadly the only way any of them will be viewed as viable starters is if a member of the trio gets injured. There are simply too many mouths to feed on such a volatile offense. However, no one really knows when Belichick might randomly decide to increase a player’s snaps and game time.

Going into the season, Michel seems to be the safest option as he is a proven goal-line back, but his injury history will be a concern. Harris could be one of the best handcuffs to have this year and could pay immediate dividends if a bad situation arises for Michel. James White will provide RB2 numbers based off of his receiving abilities, and would propel to an RB1 if an injury happened to Michel. Harris will need to wait for his opportunity, as he will not usurp Michel in his rookie season.

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