It’s next man up for the New England Patriots, and if there’s one thing we know about Bill Belichick-led teams, it’s that they have no issue with that. The Patriots have managed to find a way to get the most out of an incredibly wide range of players. This week, the team will likely be without Sony Michel, which means Kenjon Barner could be the No. 2 running back next to James White.
The million dollar question, though, is whether or not fantasy football players should consider starting the Patriots back against the Buffalo Bills. It’s a tough spot considering Barner’s role in the team’s offense is a major unknown. Over the 28-year-old’s career, he’s totaled just 93 carries in 47 games, acting primarily as a returner and special teams player.
Barner’s best season from a rushing perspective came in 2016 when he totaled 129 yards on 27 carries while scoring two touchdowns with the Philadelphia Eagles. So, let’s take the deep dive into Tom Brady’s next weapon in Week 8 and whether there’s a case to be made to start him in fantasy leagues.
Key Stats and Kenjon Barner’s Fantasy Outlook
Playing the numbers game with Barner and the Patriots may be tough, but we’ll break down as much as possible. All information on fantasy points and statistics for defense vs. position are from ESPN.
- Buffalo Bills vs. running backs in 2018: 151 attempts, 682 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 322 receiving yards, nine total touchdowns (No. 9 most fantasy points per game)
- Barner played 27 percent of the snaps in Week 7 after Michel’s injury (who played nine percent), per Football Outsiders
- Barner rushed 10 times for 36 yards against the Chicago Bears last week
While White wound up playing 70 percent of the snaps last game, it was interesting to see Barner receive 10 carries in such limited action. His workload could increase a bit this week, especially if the game against the Bills gets out of hand.
Should You Start or Sit Kenjon Barner?
I’ll be honest, when the article began and I wrote the words “Kenjon Barner,” there wasn’t much that would push me into considering starting him. Although the Patriots are without both Rex Burkhead and Michel now, Barner just seemed destined to get pushed aside by White. Realistically, that’s just not the Patriot way, though.
Brady, Belichick, and the team as a whole embrace the “next man up” mentality. Although there’s little reason to believe Barner will have a huge role, he’s not going to be stuck on the sidelines all game either. I wouldn’t play him in 12-team leagues or smaller and it’s highly unlikely I’d use him as anything other than a desperation flex play in 14-teamers. But he’s fine in anything larger than that, assuming you play in huge fantasy leagues.
Just temper expectations, as he’s unlikely to see more than 10-12 total touches at most.
As Jim McBride of the Boston Globe revealed, Michel was able to practice Saturday. In a report on Sunday night, though, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Patriots have ruled him out against the Bills.