Injuries are an unfortunate part of football, and for fantasy managers, having a good plan around them is key.
Running backs tend to be the victims of such injuries and handcuffing your starting back — drafting their back-up — can prove to be a viable strategy in your league.
Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke released his running back handcuff fantasy rankings in a tiered format. Tony Pollard and A.J. Dillon took the first tier titled under “the proven elite handcuffs.”
As for the Patriots backfield, Jahnke listed Damien Harris as a starter, and the 25-year-old is drafted as such, getting selected, on average, with the 61st pick in Yahoo drafts (half PPR), according to Fantasy Pros. For his handcuff, Jahnke ranked Rhamondre Stevenson fourth in tier two titled under “the top-10 potential.”
“These players have had limited opportunities to start over the past few seasons but have more often than not found fantasy success,” Jahnke wrote to explain the tier. “Unlike players in the next few tiers, they have RB5 upside in their range of outcomes.”
In his analysis of Stevenson, Jahnke added, “Rhamondre Stevenson is attempting to take over as the lead rusher in New England. In his first game without Damien Harris in 2021, he ran 20 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. In his one other opportunity, he was off to a slow start before getting hurt. The Patriots like to use a committee backfield, including one player specifically for passing downs. This hurts Stevenson’s upside a little, but he is talented enough to remain in this tier.”
As for Stevenson’s average draft position, the 24-year-old is being picked with the 100th pick in Yahoo leagues — a considerable gap in ADP, considering the risks Harris comes with and the potential Stevenson has in his second year.
As Jahnke noted, the Patriots do tend to use a committee approach to the backfield, and rookie Pierre Strong has impressed in training camp. With a solid preseason, the fourth-round pick could make things complicated for fantasy managers.
But at his current ADP, Stevenson would be a massive steal if he gains a larger role in the New England offense and could be a vital asset to a potential fantasy championship team.