Like many teams, the New England Patriots featured a two man backfield last season. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson led the way, and both flashed their strengths and weaknesses throughout the season. Although Harris is the projected starter, we’ll be focusing on Rhamondre Stevenson’s fantasy outlook for the upcoming season. His status as the RB2 will allow him to fly under the radar, but there’s certainly some upside to touch on.
Stevenson had 729 total scrimmage yards as a second string back in 2021. He was surprisingly productive despite Damien Harris seeing a majority of the snaps. He averaged 4.6 yards on the ground and 8.8 yards through the air while posting 5 combined touchdowns.
When looking back at 2021, it’s important to consider how both the Patriots’ runningbacks compare to each other. We know that New England will likely stick to a 2-man back field, but there’s a little uncertainty regarding the usage rates.
Damien Harris had 15 touchdowns in comparison to Rhamondre Stevenson’s five. This seems notable on paper, but it’s worth mentioning that Harris is the goal-line back, thus it makes sense for him to see most of the TD looks. Harris also saw 69 more rushing attempts than Stevenson, but only managed to record 323 additional yards.
Both RBs averaged the same yards per carry with 4.6. Stevenson has a slight edge on Harris in terms of receiving – the two average 8.8 and 7.3 yards per catch respectively. The former was more of a receiving back while the latter carried the ball more. Considering their success in their respective roles, we can use this information to speculate outcomes in 2022.
Best and Worst Case Scenario
There’s no telling what Bill Belichick and the Patriots have cooking for this season. They might stick to the same backfield they employed last season, but we have to be ready for a curveball too. Below we’ve outlined a best and worst case scenario for New England’s pass catching back.
Rhamondre Stevenson remains the featured pass catching back on the Patriots and sees more production due to a promising 2021 season. The best case scenario includes at least a 50/50 share of total snaps or more for Stevenson. If he maintains his 8.8 yards per reception, he has the potential to post 1,000+ total scrimmage yards.
We’ll see the best case scenario if he stays healthy the entire season. Stevenson only played in 12 games last season, so we didn’t see his full potential. Assuming he plays in all 17 games, we might be in store for a breakout year. Note that Damien Harris played in three more games than Rhamondre which falsely makes his production look a lot better.
The worst case scenario would feature the Patriots changing their offensive scheme and shying away from a two-man backfield. If this were to happen, Harris would see the majority of the rush and pass attempts. Although this is unlikely, it’s worth watching to see what the usage rates end up being to start the season.
Another bad outcome would be Rhamondre Stevenson suffering a bad injury. We know that he missed a handful of games last season, and quite frankly this dampers his production drastically. He needs to stay healthy if we want to see what he’s truly capable of offensively.
It’s likely that Rhamondre Stevenson will continue to share the workload with Damien Harris. Stevenson was more productive as a receiving back last season, and it’s likely he’ll be used for the same purposes in 2022. There’s a chance he can see more usage on the receiving side of things this season.
Assuming he stays healthy, expect Stevenson to improve on his solid 2021 campaign. We previously mentioned that he only played 12 games last year, so we really didn’t see a full season worth of data. He could see a notable increase in production if he manages to play the other five games.
Fantasy managers must remain interested in Rhamondre Stevenson despite his role as the RB2. If Damien Harris suffers an injury, he’s immediately filling the starting role and seeing an uptick in production. Injuries aside, we know that the Patriots were successful with a two-back scheme last season, and they’re likely to spread the wealth amongst the two featured backs.
Overall, expect Rhamondre Stevenson to have similar if not better fantasy numbers in 2022 compared to 2021. He’s in a situation where one injury puts him in the starting role, and his receiving upside gives him a higher ceiling in regards to fantasy points.
Rhamondre Stevenson’s fantasy outlook is garnering a lot of interest, and rightfully so. He had great numbers across 12 games in 2021, thus giving a lot of fantasy managers hope for what a full season sample size will bring. He’s certainly worth keeping an eye on in both daily fantasy football and season long fantasy leagues.