New England Patriots

2018 Training Camp Battle – New England Patriots Backfield

Deciphering the New England Patriots Backfield

By: Ryan Cearfoss @fntsyfbconnect

New England Patriots Running Backs

Every season leading into training camp the fantasy community finds themselves trying to pick out a team’s starter and others with value at the position. Making sense of it can sometimes be difficult and that’s what we’re here for.
In typical pre-season fashion the New England Patriots are inserting pure confusion into the fantasy community with a plethora of running backs. Returning are Rex Burkhead and the ever steady PPR option in James White. Add in newly acquired red zone specialist in Jeremy Hill and first round pick Sony Michel, the Patriots look like a mess to figure out. As confusing as it seems the Patriots have specific roles to fill and each guy in their backfield fits a specific one.

Lead Back: Sony Michel

After returning to the starting roster last year Dion Lewis stepped in the lead back role for the New England Patriots and played extremely well. With him out of the picture the Pats spent a first round pick on one of the most versatile backs in the draft in Sony Michel. Michel brings a well-rounded skill set with size, speed and receiving ability which should thrive in this explosive offense. If Michel can win the job and fix the fumbling issues he had in college he could end up being a big time fantasy performer with a ton of upside. (Note: Michel has undergone a procedure on his knee be sure to monitor ahead of your fantasy football drafts)

Projections for Sony Michel
  • Attempts – 158
  • Rushing Yards – 726
  • Rushing TDs – 6
  • Receptions – 32
  • Receiving Yards – 236
  • Receiving TDs – 2
  • PPR PTS – 172.36

Third down Back: James White

Year in year out James White is the forgotten man in the Patriots’ offense. Every year when push comes to shove and there’s a shootout or a high scoring game White becomes Tom Brady’s most trusted safety valve. White is fairly matchup dependent not showing up in games where the New England Patriots put away games early but in the right situations he can be a great flex play in PPR.

Projections for James White
  • Attempts – 51
  • Rushing Yards – 219
  • Rushing TDs – 1
  • Receptions – 47
  • Receiving Yards – 385
  • Receiving TDs – 4
  • PPR PTS – 135.47

Sleeper: Rex Burkhead

Rex Burkhead definitely deserves a roster spot on fantasy teams but believing him to be the starter could be a little far fetched. Last season once Dion Lewis came back Burkhead served in a complementary role. With the addition of a superior talent in Sony Michel via the draft not a ton should change with Burkhead. He will have some games where he has a significant role and even more so, if an injury occurs placing Rex in more of a high value handcuff role.

Projections for Rex Burkhead
  • Attempts – 78
  • Rushing Yards – 319
  • Rushing TDs – 3
  • Receptions – 13
  • Rec Yards – 83
  • Rec TDs – 1
  • PPR PTS – 75.3

Goal Line Specialist: Jeremy Hill

This one could surprise a lot of people being the fantasy community has forgotten about Jeremy Hill. The 236 pound battering ram of a running back when healthy was a prolific goal line rusher for the Bengals scoring over 9 touchdowns in 3 of his 4 seasons for the Bengals. At 25-years-old Hill still has upside and proven production. In an offense like the Patriots he has the opportunity to take the short yardage role and punch in a good number of scores. Coming in free on ADP he could be a deep stash or nice DFS play.

Projections for Jeremy Hill
  • Attempts – 94
  • Rushing Yards – 329
  • Rushing TDs – 7
  • Receptions – 2
  • Receiving Yards – 10.8
  • Receiving TDs – 0
  • PPR PTS – 77.98