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What to do with James White, Sony Michel in Week 8 fantasy football

James White almost scored two touchdowns last week. Sony Michel scored three. How will the Patriots’ backfield play out in a matchup with the Browns?

New England Patriots running back James White dives for the end zone and is forced out of bounds at the one yard line by New York Jets linebacker Tarell Basham during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

You know how sometimes it just feels like someone is due to score a touchdown? This is my sentiment towards James White as we approach Week 8. Some of this is contingent on Rex Burkhead’s continued absence, but White’s been a volume maven the past four weeks with remarkably little to show for it. I’m not even just talking about ample volume for a running back, I mean in comparison to every other skill-position player in football. Going back to the beginning of Week 4, only Michael Thomas has more receptions than White and no RB has more target’s than the veteran back’s 34. He’s been getting high-leverage looks, too. In fact, White has seven red zone touches the past two weeks, with an eighth opportunity - that resulted in a rushing touchdown - called back due to penalty.

Of course, that’s the frustration when dealing with Patriots running backs. You know you’re in for a headache. When that aforementioned White TD was negated against the Jets, it eventually resulted in a Sony Michel one-yard score. When White was tripped up an inch short of the goal line later in that same contest, it eventually resulted in another Michel one-yard score. That’s what keeps us having to go back to the sophomore. Despite Michel being in an obviously bad matchup on paper versus the league’s third-stingiest run defense by adjusted line yards, he happened to game flow and sequence his way into three end zone visits. Still, it should be noted that Cleveland - at 4.63 adjusted line yards per carry allowed - is a far more inviting spot for the Georgia product.

Fantasy Football Analysis, New England Patriots RBs James White and Sony Michel

Its not ideal, but clearly White and Michel can co-exist due to the benefits of playing for New England. The Patriots lead the NFL in points per game (31.9) and red zone drives per game (4.3), having mustered an insane 16 of the latter the past three weeks. Michel’s set-in-stone volume and touchdown expectancy make him virtually a must-play each and every week, while I do believe in White’s ability to be a mid-tier RB2 in Week 8. Aside from some touchdown normalization, the Browns have conceded 7.2 yards per target to opposing backfields so far in 2019 - the fifth-highest mark in football. White will take advantage.

Start/Sit Recommendation

Start White. Start Michel.