Over the past two weeks, the New England Patriots have slowly seen an uptick in the production from their running game.
With two healthy tight ends and improved play by rookie full back Jakob Johnson, New England’s run blocking has been bolstered, leading to higher rushing totals. The primary beneficiary of that is Sony Michel.
In New England’s Week 5 contest against the Washington Redskins, Michel had a quiet first half with only four rushes for 10 yards. Most notably, Michel caught two passes for 26 yards. Not normally a receiving back, Michel only caught seven total passes as a rookie in 2018. Michel finished with three catches for 32 yards setting both career highs.
As for his rushing production, he has over half of his rushing yards for the season over the past two games, including 91 yards against Washington. Even when Michel hasn’t been on, the Patriots have been known to feed him deep in the red zone and New England has gone 11-0 when Sony scores.
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Matchup vs NY Giants
The Giants are the second-worst defense in the NFL allowing 2,047 yards on the season. When it comes to opponents’ success in running the football, the Giants have allowed 650 total rushing yards (130 per game).
There’s no true run-stuffer in the Giants defensive line and without a pass-rushing threat like Olivier Vernon, there’s not a ton of pressure on the backfield. This has allowed opposing offenses to run the ball pretty freely, especially those with strong offensive lines.
Last week was a perfect example when the Giants played the Minnesota Vikings and Dalvin Cook went off for 132 yards. It was a punishing ground attack by Cook, similar to what Sony Michel did in the second half last weekend at Washington.
Michel started slow this season, similar to last year. But once he got going a year ago, he was tough to slow down. With a matchup with the Giants on the cards and especially on a short week, Michel could take advantage of a weakened opposing defense and go off for over 100 yards for the first time.
Should You Start Sony vs Giants?
The Patriots are hurting at wide receiver with Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon ailing and Phillip Dorsett not practicing, New England’s passing game may take a bit of hit. In order to provide some relief at a banged-up position, the Patriots may resort to running the ball more.
Sony Michel would take the bulk of the carries with Rex Burkhead still limited and James White being more involved in blocking and receiving. And with Michel also collecting catches last week, perhaps that’s a signal of a change in his role out the backfield into a dual-faceted back.
With Michel continuing to show signs of improvement, you can benefit from starting him in fantasy this week. Barring injury, he should be heavily involved in the New England offensive game plan.
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