The New England Patriots will once again be a gold mine for fantasy football owners this season. The Patriots have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and that isn’t going to change in 2018.
New England has some of the top players at multiple positions at their disposal. Tom Brady is always among the best quarterbacks in fantasy football year in and year out. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a top tight end. Julian Edelman will look to return to his form as a reliable wide receiver, as well as Chris Hogan.
The running back situation, however, is a little murkier. The Patriots deploy a committee approach as multiple players fill roles. While that works for them, it is a frustrating situation for fantasy football owners.
Sifting through who will be the top option in the Patriots’ backfield on a weekly basis is not easy. Last season there were four different players that were worth starting in New England’s backfield and it should be much of the same this season.
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While Dion Lewis departed in free agency, he was replaced by multiple players. Jeremy Hill was signed in free agency, Rex Burkhead was re-signed and Sony Michel was selected with the No. 30 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Third-down specialist James White is also still on the roster, along with early down big back, Mike Gillislee.
That is a crowded backfield to deal with. New England will deploy them as they see fit as they have weekly gameplans. The person that many people are interested in seeing the workload of is Michel.
As a first-round pick, there are some high expectations for Michel. However, given the other options in the backfield, there are serious questions about how much of an impact Michel will have for fantasy football owners.
Over at ESPN, they wrote an article asking a fantasy football question for each team in the league. The Patriots’ question revolves around Michel and how many touches he will get.
ESPN’s question was if Michel would top 250 touches, and here is what they said.
"No, but he won’t be too far off. Michel is the “new Dion Lewis” in New England, and Lewis had 212 touches last season. Because Michel will be sharing the load with Rex Burkhead, James White and possibly one from the group of Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee and Ralph Webb, there’s a committee-type element in play. The Patriots also will want to assess the first-round pick’s reliability with ball security after he had 12 fumbles in college. — Mike Reiss"
LeGarrette Blount is the only Patriots running back to top 250 touches in the past five seasons. In 2016 he had 299 carries as the early-down workhorse. Michel is much more versatile back than that, but he has much more competition for touches than Blount did.
Lewis took over as the lead back last season in the fifth game of the season. If he had been the lead back since Week 1, there is a chance that he would have topped 250 touches. If Michel is truly taking over his role, he has a shot at 250 touches.
Lewis averaged only 3.8 carries per game the first five games of the season. The rest of the season he averaged 14.6 carries per game. If he received that workload throughout the whole season, with his receptions added in, he would have surpassed 250 carries.
Like Lewis, Michel is a do-it-all running back. He is as talented a receiver out of the backfield as he is a ball carrier. The Patriots are going to love their new running back given his skill set and versatility he brings to the table.