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Breaking down the New England Patriots' backfield for fantasy football

Every season, the New England Patriots are one of the most difficult backfields to unravel and break down for fantasy football. The unpredictability of head coach Bill Belichick and his running back by committee approach has reached such a degree that the safest move is to just take whichever Patriots running back is being overlooked the most.

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Over the past two seasons, Sony Michel has been the first Patriots running back drafted, but James White has been the superior fantasy asset, averaging RB13 fantasy production over that time. In 2017, Dion Lewis was the fourth Patriots running back drafted and finished as the RB15 overall. In 2016, the forgotten LeGarrette Blount was a late-round darling after scoring a league-high 18 touchdowns.

As I noted in my piece breaking down the Washington backfield, the best way to extract value from the running back position is to target teams with ambiguous backfields. With fantasy owners unsure of whom to target in the Patriots’ backfield, their ADPs present values ready for savvy fantasy owners to jump on.  

James White | ADP: RB32

Pass-catching specialist James White has seen almost no movement in his ADP this summer despite a new, veteran quarterback (Cam Newton) being added to the offense. Newton’s recent history of success with Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is being factored into White's ADP. 

Before the Panthers drafted McCaffrey, Newton had been targeting the running back position on less than 13% of his attempts. Once the dynamic pass-catching back showed up, that rate nearly doubled (25.3%).

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