The Patriots backfield has long been touted as fantasy stocks to avoid, but the time has come to realize their potential. In each of the past three years, New England running backs in total quietly produced monster numbers. They ranked in the top ten among their position in yards from scrimmage, receptions, and total touchdowns. This clearly is a situation we should not fade anymore.
Ideally, in the great game of fantasy football, we want the most value out of all our draft picks. By understanding each running backs’ role in the New England offense and current ADP, we can get a better idea what type of investment is needed and find the appropriate value.
Burkhead is the jack of all trades of this backfield, as illustrated by his versatility in the New England scheme. Known more for his goal-line role, the recently resigned Patriot displayed underrated receiving abilities as he ran a pass route in 52% of the his snaps including in the slot.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Burkhead is the running back most in demand from the Patriots. In just the past month, the fifth year back’s average draft position has jumped from the seventh to the fifth round in 12 team standard and Point Per Reception (PPR) scoring leagues despite a tear in his knee.
With the Patriots’ schedule ranked as the second softest by Warren Sharp, Burkhead is the piece that should have the best chance to produce impressive numbers in this high powered offense. The high ceiling and floor combination presented by this versatile running back is definitely worth his current draft position.
White has a solid role on the Patriots as the passing down back. Despite sharing time with Burkhead last season, the fifth year running back still produced underrated receiving numbers ranking in the top ten among his position in targets and catches.
With most of his value created by receptions, White is most useful in PPR formats and is being drafted on average in the tenth round. We can’t expect serious production without an injury but any match up with a projected heavy passing script for the Patriots would be most ideal to start White.
Michel is the wildcard in this backfield. Drafted in the first round, expectations were high for Michel but a knee injury likely will force the young running back to miss the entire preseason. The rookie’s average draft position has recently dropped to the seventh and sixth round respectively in PPR and standard formats, creating an opportunity for risk-tolerant owners to invest on a lower price.
Yes, there is a very scary floor to consider with injury concerns and a lack of reps but Michel’s potential should be not discounted especially considering the violent nature of the running back position. Treat this rookie like a handcuff to Burkhead and potentially reap the benefits later!
Hill is a particular favorite of our own Kevin Steele. Signed to a one year prove it type of deal in the offseason, the former Bengal has impressed the Patriots so far as early reports have indicated Hill has outperformed his competition for the last running back roster spot.
If Hill were to make the roster, don’t be afraid to draft this running back late. In his four years with Cincinnati, the fifth year back showed he could excel in a goal-line role by rushing for 29 touchdowns. It can be worrisome to invest in a player so touchdown dependent, but a LeGarrette Blount type of ceiling in this offense is not unrealistic.