It’s been two weeks since the Patriots were last in action, and the star of that game was easily running back Damien Harris. The second-year pro carried the ball 17 times, a season-high for the team, and rolled up 100 yards on the ground. But don’t get too excited about the potential for a bona fide No. 1 back in New England, Harris is likely headed back to fantasy irrelevance this week in their rescheduled game against the Broncos.
The Sit: Patriots RB Damien Harris
There are a few things working against Harris this week. First, there’s the matchup. Denver’s defense is hurting, but the Broncos are the top unit in fantasy football when it comes to limiting the damage from opposing running backs. There’s also the usual shuffle in New England’s backfield. Sure, Sony Michel is out, but they still have Rex Burkhead and James White who will eat up snaps, especially in the passing game.
Finally, Cam Newton could return this week. He was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list and returned to practice on Thursday. Naturally, Bill Belichick is being cagey about whether or not Newton will play, but if he does—and there’s a good chance he will—the ground game will revolve around him, not Harris.
The Starts: Myles Gaskin, Adrian Peterson, Tony Pollard
Gaskin has emerged as a steady RB2 in most fantasy lineups over the last three weeks. During that stretch, he’s averaged 16 carries and 54 yards per game. He’s also getting a lot of work in the passing game, averaging five targets each week this season. This week he gets to the face the Jets, which should mean even more touches as the Dolphins grind out the clock with a healthy lead.
The Lions have now written Peterson’s name in ink at the top of their running back depth chart. And while he’s not always a reliable weekly starter, Detroit has a favorable outing against a Jaguars defense that’s been one of the league’s worst at giving up points to opposing runners.
Pollard saw his workload expand last week against the Giants. He had six carries for 30 yards and another two receptions, which isn’t insignificant when you’re the understudy to Zeke Elliott. He wouldn’t normally be a starting option in fantasy, but this week against the Cardinals he should see more work as a complementary piece.