Patriots

Here’s what fantasy experts are saying about Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson

A recent comment from Bill Belichick hinted at a possible expansion of Stevenson's role in 2022.

Rhamondre Stevenson
Rhamondre Stevenson prior to the Giants-Patriots preseason game. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is one of the more intriguing players for fantasy football players to consider in an upcoming draft.

Stevenson, 23, is entering his second season with New England. As a rookie, the 2021 fourth-round pick finished with 606 rushing yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Currently, he sits second on the Patriots’ unofficial depth chart behind Damien Harris.

In fantasy terms, Stevenson holds an average draft position (ADP) in the mid-90s (depending on format).

Recently, Bill Belichick praised Stevenson’s growth in the passing game, which could be great news for fantasy players looking for value. Stevenson, despite showcasing an effective and physical running style a year ago, only caught 14 passes and was mostly relegated to the bench for third downs.

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According to Belichick, that could change.

“[Rhamondre’s] done a really good job improving his pass game skills, starting with blitz pickup and protection,” Belichick told reporters after Patriots practice on Aug. 16. “Route running — he’s got good hands, catching the ball’s never really been an issue. It’s setting up defenders, recognizing coverages, when to sit down, when to break, depending on what the rest of the pattern is, how to maximize the distribution on the pattern. The back’s always kind of the last person in the pattern for flare control. So, whatever the rest of the players are running, the back is generally responsible for filling in — being in the right spot so the quarterback has an outlet.”

“He’s way better than he was last year and he understands that’s an important part of his game,” Belichick added. “It’s not just carrying the ball, it’s all things that go with the passing game.”

Given the recent news of James White retiring (as well as the offseason departure of Brandon Bolden), New England has an opening in the backfield for a player who can pass-block and catch passes.

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And while Stevenson isn’t projected to start, he’s seen as a more coveted fantasy option by some.

“Stevenson is the more complete running back with a better chance of being a three-down running back,” said NBC fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry during an episode of the “Next Pats” podcast with Phil Perry.

“If you’re asking me which of these guys has a chance to emerge as a true three-down back, as a true fantasy superstar, Stevenson to me has the most upside,” Berry added.

Examining some of Stevenson’s advanced stats from a year ago support Berry’s assertion.

“He was [Pro Football Focus’s] third-highest graded running back (84.2). Stevenson also ranked 13th in rushing yards and in yards per route run (1.41),” wrote Andrew Erickson of Fantasy Pros. “For fantasy, the rookie running back was the RB25 in total points scored, eight spots behind his backfield teammate Harris.”

Another factor to consider is the possibility that Harris — a free agent after this season — could be traded by the Patriots.

Asked about the potential of New England dealing Harris before the season, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer acknowledged that it could happen. One of the reasons for Harris’s potential departure, he explained, was that Stevenson “has established himself as a starting-level player.”

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Still, the excitement around Stevenson isn’t universal. As DraftKings fantasy analyst Teddy Ricketson noted, “This is going to be a messy backfield.”

“Harris’ proclivity for finding the end zone will keep him on the field,” he added. “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.”

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