The New England Patriots are set to have a deep stable of running backs for 2022. Could Damien Harris lead the way for this group?
Last year, the New England Patriots had the 9th most rushing attempts per game in the NFL.
They ran the ball an average of 28.3 times per game. Being that Mac Jones isn’t all the way there with his development, the team may again rely on their running backs to lead the way in 2022.
A lack of a true WR1 could also force the offense to defer to the backs more.
In 2021, the team mainly saw a duo of Damien Harris and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson.
Harris rushed for a career high 929 yards, and also added a whopping 15 rushing touchdowns.
Now entering his fourth season, which is a contract year for the former third round pick, Damien Harris has the potential to explode in 2022.
While the Patriots do have a deep running back stable, and the true RB1 hasn’t been established yet, it is worth betting on Harris as 1a and Stevenson as 1b for 2022.
When you look at the career of Damien Harris thus far, he only played in two games in his rookie season, 10 in his second season, and 15 in 2021.
If the pattern holds, he could be set to play and start in all 17 games in 2022. He did start each game he played in 2020 and 2021, so being another year in the league shouldn’t prevent him from starting each game in 2022, unless Stevenson makes a big leap and passes him on the depth chart.
The last two seasons, Harris has averaged 64.8 yards per game. This would be over a 25 game stretch for the fourth year player.
He’s also got a very promising 4.8 yards per carry over the last two seasons. Gaining nearly five yards a run would put Harris near the very top of the NFL among qualified runners in yards per game.
Also, if he does play a full 17 game season, and gets the same amount of carries per game in 2022 that he got in 2021 (13.5 carries per game), he would have 229.5, or 230 attempts in 2022.
His 4.8 yards per carry average over the last two seasons, where he’s gotten the bulk of his carries, would end up being 1,104 yards if he did get 230 carries.
To me, that is the floor for Harris’ potential 2022 output.
I do think the stars are aligned for Damien Harris to crack the 1,000 yard barrier this season. He’s in a desirable situation and should flourish.