We are officially now in the hype season, or as we call it, NFL training camp. This is a time where you will hear plenty of praise for players from coaches, teammates and beat reporters. Maybe it’s a simple as someone slimming down and adding muscle or a receiver got contact lenses finally or last season a player’s shoes were too tight, but now they’re nice and comfy. Whatever the hype, as fantasy players, we hear it as affirmation about a player we like or hollow praise about a player we don’t like.
Throughout camp we’ll keep an eye out for the hyped player of the day and see if the praise is something we should take notice of or disregard. For today, that player is Patriots running back Damien Harris.
Damien Harris was drafted in the third round in 2019 and appeared to be next in line to take over for Sony Michel, who has left the door open for competition. But, Harris was red-shirted his rookie year, only playing in two games. Sony Michel is now recovering from yet another surgery, so Harris is currently getting a chance to lead the way in training camp. The reports so far have been positive.
RB Damien Harris made a one-handed catch of a Cam Newton throw late in practice. LB Josh Uche was closest in coverage. If Harris can become a contributor as a pass-catcher, it could give him an edge in competition for early-down reps.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 18, 2020
Damien Harris continues to stack good days together and might be New England’s best skill player through two days. He made a nasty jump-cut in the hole to get away from Josh Uche early in practice, and then capped things off with a one-handed snag on an angle route during goal-line work. Harris’s vision between the tackles to set up blocks and make cuts into space continues to garner praise from running backs coach Ivan Fears. Plus, he was heavily involved as a receiver in the first two days of pads. Harris is making the most of his opportunities with Michel and Miller on the sideline. . — Evan Lazar, CLNS Media Network
Is the hype real?
It’s always hard to tell how well beat reporters are judging the abilities of a player while watching from a distance, but they can tell who is getting work with the first team and who isn’t. And with Michel out, Harris is getting a ton of work. Does that mean he has the inside scoop on the starting job? Of course not. Michel could return tomorrow and get all the first team reps and start 16 games while Harris is inactive on game day once again. But, Michel’s 2019 was worse than his 2018 and his injuries are piling up on his knees. Harris legitimately has a shot at lead back duties.
Is the hype too much?
The question is, will Harris be a strong fantasy back if he wins the lead role or will Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead along with the absence of Tom Brady, hurt his upside? Yes, those factors very well could knock him down. There are still many questions in this backfield that two days of good work in training camp just can’t answer. But, the good news is that Harris is still relatively cheap in fantasy. He’s currently going off the board at the 56th running back and 198th player overall. And, if he can win some passing targets to go along with the lead back role, there is genuine upside for him this year.