When it comes to life, there are certainties like death and taxes. A close third is the unpredictability of running backs in a Bill Belichick offense. When the preseason started, the New England Patriots had Rhamondre Stevenson, Damien Harris, James White and Ty Montgomery. Notice a similarity in these players? They are all talented runners with a pass-catching upside. Cue the muddled backfield we are used to.
White decided to retire during training camp, which prompted Montgomery to be moved from wide receiver back to his usual position of running back. Stevenson and Harris figure to be a two-headed monster that Belichick deploys this season. Harris was the fantasy-relevant back from a season ago, finishing as the overall RB13 in half-PPR scoring. Stevenson wasn’t too far behind at RB40, playing in 12 games. As we head into the 2022 season, who should you put your faith in?
Update, August 15 — It’s worth noting that Stevenson is assuming the James White role in the Pats offense during training camp.
Patriots starters finished practice with some 2 minute work.— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) August 15, 2022
Rhamondre Stevenson was repping in the James White role.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
New England drafted Stevenson in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He played in 12 games his rookie year and ran the ball 133 times for 606 yards and five touchdowns. Stevenson caught 14 of his 18 targets for an additional 123 yards and finished with 107.9 fantasy points. He has been noted as being a camp standout so far this preseason and is rumored to legitimately be challenging Harris for the overall top spot on the depth chart.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots
Harris is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. He had a slow rookie season and started heating up in 2020. Harris caught fire last season when he played in 15 games and had 202 carries for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ranked second in the entire league with rushing touchdowns which makes it hard to see him eliminated from usage in the offense. Harris also caught 18 of 21 passes for an additional 132 yards. With limited receiving work, it is even more impressive that he finished as the overall RB13 in half-PPR scoring a season ago.
Fantasy football verdict
Unsurprisingly this is going to be a messy backfield. Harris’ proclivity for finding the end zone will keep him on the field. Stevenson is looking like he is taking a step forward heading into his second season, so he will also be a factor here. This will be a split backfield, but you should roster Harris if you're picking one of these backs because of the touchdown advantage.
As an additional note, keep an eye on Montgomery’s usage. If he assumes the White role, he would be an interesting late round draft pick, or you could get him off waivers.