At one point, running back appeared to be a position of strength for the New England Patriots.
After the trade of Sony Michel, a season-ending injury to veteran James White, multiple injuries to Damien Harris and ball-security issues with everyone not named Brandon Bolden, the Patriots’ running back room isn’t as crowded or confident.
New England’s coaching staff has noticed the dip in confidence and it has apparently led to a decrease in aggressiveness.
Patriots RB Coach Ivan Fears Calls Out Rhamondre Stevenson
According to Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, who had found himself in Bill Belichick’s doghouse for a fumble in Week 1, was “too cautious” early in his Week 5 appearance.
CLNS’ Evan Lazar agreed with Fears’ notion and tweeted Fears’ quote:
“Rhamondre started out too cautious. He was almost very nervous to carry the ball. We can’t play that way. He turned it loose at the end.”
Running scared doesn’t work in the NFL. Running backs have to find the right balance between aggressiveness and protecting the football. Leaning too hard in either direction can lead to over-conservative results or turnovers. Both are negatives and Fears clearly isn’t a fan.
Fantasy Football Experts Don’t See Rhamondre Stevenson Having a Big Game vs. The Cowboys
Will the Week 6 matchup at home against the Dallas Cowboys turn into Stevenson’s regular-season coming-out party? Fantasy football experts don’t seem to think so.
Pro Football Network’s Jason Katz isn’t high on Stevenson’s chances of making a major fantasy impact, which could mean he’s ineffective in general for the Patriots.
There is no need to bury the lede here — Stevenson is not someone you need to aggressively pursue on the Week 6 waiver wire. Although I do not believe Stevenson is a priority waiver wire pickup, it’s important for fantasy managers to have the full picture as to why he’s even a consideration. In Week 5, Damien Harris played 33% of the snaps while Stevenson played 34%. That may seem insignificant, but Harris was coming off a week where he played 61% of the snaps. The reason for the increase in Stevenson’s usage was Harris’ second-quarter fumble at the goal line. Harris did not touch the ball the entire third quarter. The absolute ceiling for Stevenson is essentially replacing Harris as the primary early-down back. Mac Jones has targeted Brandon Bolden 10 times in the past two weeks. Thus, Bolden is clearly James White’s replacement in the passing game, leaving no possible hope for Stevenson to see any relevant receiving work.
The Patriots don’t care a whole bunch about your fantasy team, but the team could stand to give Stevenson a few more looks than Katz’s spiel implies are on the rookie running back’s way.
Stevenson is one of a few playmakers on the Patriots’ offense. He has to take care of the football, but he also has to be free to show what gives him the potential to be a special back.
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