With all of the media attention surrounding Cam Newton testing positive for COVID-19 and the shaky New England Patriots’ quarterback situation in their game Monday night, another key development flew somewhat under the radar. New England placed disgruntled running back Sony Michel on injured reserve. After a strong Week 4 performance, Damien Harris’ fantasy stock is on the rise as the new Patriots starting back, and he is among the hottest fantasy football waiver wire pickups of the week.
Those who are attuned with the annual fantasy football scene know very well the struggle of trying to rely on a Patriots running back for consistent value. While James White and Rex Burkhead will continue to be the featured backs in passing down situations, Monday night’s performance in prime time did wonders for Damien Harris and his Fantasy outlook going forward.
Damien Harris Fantasy Performance
In essence, Damien Harris and Sony Michel ultimately traded places on Monday. Michel now occupies the IR spot that Harris has held down for the first three weeks while Harris jumps into the lead role for the Patriots at RB. He did not disappoint in his third ever NFL game and first as a starter.
Harris led all Patriots ball carriers with 17 rush attempts for 100 yards exactly in Monday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. His line yielded an average of 5.9 yards per carry and 10.0 Fantasy points. A touchdown is pretty much the only thing that could’ve made the 23-year-olds coming out party better. The fact that Harris amassed the rushing yardage he did in the absence of quality QB play Monday has to only heighten optimism for when Cam Newton returns to the lineup.
Drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft by the Patriots (No. 87 overall), Harris rushed for over 3000 yards in his college career at Alabama. He hit the 1000-yard mark rushing in both his sophomore and junior seasons while totaling over 1000 total scrimmage yards in each of his final three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Damien Harris Fantasy Outlook
Only owned in 15.4% of ESPN leagues following Week 4, it’s safe to say that there will be a lot of fantasy football managers rushing to add Harris off the waiver wire this week. But the real question is whether or not we can trust him? Will he be a reliable Fantasy contributor? Or is he destined to be nothing more than the next Sony Michel?
Harris possesses all of the physicality and speed necessary to be a starting running back in the NFL. James White and Rex Burkhead are both skilled pass-catching backs, but neither have the between-the-tackles rushing ability that Harris brings to the table. Even with Cam Newton, New England would prefer to run the football. Look for Harris and White to emerge as the primary tandem in this backfield going forward.
Fantasy managers are foolish not to put in a waiver claim for Harris. With all the injuries at the running back position and bye weeks looming, Harris will almost certainly be more than a bench stash going forward.