Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden Fantasy Outlook After Damien Harris Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 17:  New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) hands off to New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) during the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys on October 17, 2021 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.    (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots announced running back Damien Harris has been ruled out of Sunday's Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts because of a hamstring injury.

That leaves fantasy players to contemplate options like Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden for their playoff matchups. J.J. Taylor was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in late November, and there have been no updates about his availability.

Stevenson is the player most likely to take on Harris' role going forward amid a solid rookie campaign. He's rushed for 429 yards on 100 carries (4.3 YPC) with three touchdowns across nine appearances.

Bolden would seemingly be in line to take over as the third-down back, but Taylor is eligible for activation from the COVID-19 list at any time, which could carve into that reserve playing time.

The greater point here is that it could be difficult to trust New England's running backs, no matter who is in the backfield. James White, for instance, had just five weeks with double-digit fantasy points and seven weeks when he finished with fewer than seven points last season. He's on injured reserve with a hip subluxation this year.

Obviously, some of that came down to downgrading from Tom Brady to Cam Newton in 2020. But White at least was a proven fantasy player who you knew would hover around flex relevance in New England's backfield, but the snaps often fluctuate from week to week for the Pats.

It creates a level of uncertainty around Stevenson and, if activated, Taylor. They're talented, no doubt, but they might also find themselves in a pretty equal platoon, negating the fantasy value of each. Add in Bolden, who seemingly will reprise the White role in the offense, and who knows if any of these players will have much fantasy upside with Harris sidelined.

In fact, Bolden might be the safest bet in PPR leagues, given he's largely served as the team's top receiving option out of the backfield. See how murky all of this is, though?

Seasoned fantasy folks have been burnt by Patriots' backs more than once. Stevenson is the best bet, but there are no guarantees in New England.