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2023 Breakout Candidate : Rhamondre Stevenson

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

As the 2023 Fantasy Football season is approaching, we are witnessing a changing of the guard at the running back position. Derrick Henry is pushing 30 years old, Nick Chubb isn’t getting any younger. Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon may not be on the field this year due to legal issues and Dalvin Cook may be bought out by the Vikings. Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette are yet to sign with an NFL team. One of those new names that could rise to the next tier of Elite running back is Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson has the size (6’0’ 230lbs) and skill set that can handle the rigors of a full time NFL bell-cow. Stevenson was extremely efficient in 2022, rushing for 4.95 YPC and amassed an eye popping 69 catches on 88 targets, which is the type of target volume required to be an elite, RB1 type of running back in Fantasy Football.

Stevenson had a tremendous season for New England last year, finishing 14thin non PPR and 7th in PPR, which mostly went under the radar due to the age-old fear of PRUBB; “Patriots Running backs Under Bill Belichek”. These fears have been blown out of proportion for a long, long time.

Sure 90 targets and 70 catches are most likely an outlier; however, Damien Harris is gone to Buffalo and the only other real competition in the Patriots backfield at the moment is Pierre Strong. Even if Coach Bill wanted to turn to another player to lighten Stevenson’s load, he’ll quickly realize that there is no one even close to the talent that is Stevenson.

The Patriots rotated through the likes of Sony Michel, Damien Harris and Dion Lewis recently simply due to the fact that the Patriots didn’t choose to have anyone better on the roster. Rex Burkhead and James White were excellent pass catchers and special teams' players, which will definitely put you on Bill’s good side. They weren’t however eating into the lions’ share of carries. Dating back to 2015, Bill’s RB1 has had at least 200 touches in five of the seven years, not including the pace LeGarrette Blount was on in 2015 which would have put him at 220 carries. And this is the NFL in 2023; teams no longer burden one back with the lions’ share of the carries. Only eight players saw more than 250 carries last season, so this is not “just” a Belichek-ian approach; a lot teams are lightening the load on their star running backs.

Additionally, the Patriots have erased former play called Matt Patricia, and brought in former Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien has reportedly been given the keys to the offensive play calling which could see their running back touches split up in ways we are not accustomed to seeing in New England. Although some skill players have changed teams, the overall play calling should get Rhamondre into the endzone more frequently. Jakobi Meyers signed with the Raiders, and the Patriots brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster from Kansas City which is a zero-sum game for all parties involved. Jonnu Smith is out and Mike Gesicki is in to fill the role of ‘getting cardio’ and enjoying 35-40 targets. If the Patriots want to be competitive in a high-flying AFC East, controlling the clock and pounding the rock with Stevenson and keeping opposing offenses on the sidelines.

Rhamondre’s ADP on Sleeper is currently 44th overall, and RB13, behind of the likes of Travis Etienne and Najee Harris. Stevenson has far less competition for touches than Etienne does, and doesn’t have to share as many looks in his own offense as Harris does. In the ever-evolving NFL landscape, we could be looking at Rhamondre Stevenson a year from now in the elite tier of Fantasy Football running backs.

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