Patriots

Why Patriots' Damien Harris is worth drafting in your fantasy football league

Why Patriots' Damien Harris is worth drafting in your fantasy football league

Running back is the most important position in fantasy football, and having enough depth at the position is critical to winning your league.

One way to build depth is selecting a rookie running back in the later rounds of your draft. A name to keep an eye on and strongly consider drafting is Damien Harris of the New England Patriots.

Harris was a third-round pick of the Patriots in April and played well in Saturday's preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. The Alabama product ran for 80 yards on just 14 carries, including this powerful in the first quarter.

Harris doesn't have blazing speed, but he's certainly got plenty of toughness. He averaged 3.16 yards after contact per rushing attempt for the Crimson Tide last season, per Pro Football Focus. He ran for 876 yards and nine touchdowns at Alabama in 2018 despite splitting carries with Josh Jacobs, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the first round.

The Patriots have a crowded backfield and they do a great job keeping opponents guessing when it comes to which running back will be the focus of the offense each week. What we do know is Sony Michel is the lead rusher. The Georgia product had a fantastic first season in New England and set a rookie record with six rushing touchdowns in the playoffs. He did, however, miss three games due to injury, and he battled injuries in college as well. Michel started training camp on the PUP list. 

Harris, who stayed healthy at Alabama, figures to be the next man up if Michel is unable to stay healthy. James White is the top receiving option in the Patriots backfield, but Harris should get quite a few carries in games where Michel is unavailable (and even when Michel does play). Some of those carries could come at the goal line, where his 5-foot-11, 213-pound frame is not easy to tackle. Harris also was a capable receiver in college and tallied 48 receptions over his final three seasons at Alabama. 

Another angle to factor in is the Patriots' offensive line, which is one of the best units in the league. New England transformed into a power running team in the playoffs and it worked out beautifully, culminating in another Super Bowl championship. The Patriots also ranked fifth in rushing yards per game during the 2018 regular season. 

You shouldn't bank on Harris being a consistent fantasy scorer this season, but he's definitely worth taking a chance on. It's hard to imagine Bill Belichick using a valuable third-round draft pick on Harris if the Patriots coach didn't believe the Alabama star could contribute in a meaningful way as a rookie. 

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Patriots' point differential among best in NFL history through 3 games

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Patriots' point differential among best in NFL history through 3 games

Over the two decades of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era in Foxboro, the Patriots have gotten used to setting records. And late in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Jets, it looked like they were well on their way to another.

Following a season-opening 33-3 win over the Steelers and a 43-0 shutout of the Dolphins, the Pats had rolled to a 30-0 lead, giving them a +103 point differential on the season, which would have been the best in NFL history through three games.

And despite late New York touchdowns on both special teams and defense, New England still has a +89 point differential this season. While it's not a record, it's still the third-highest for any NFL team since 1940.

The previous best point differential for a Patriots team through three games was +79 in their undefeated season of 2007.

And while those two late Jets scored ruined the Pats' chances at setting the NFL record for the fewest points allowed in the first three games of the season, they still set a new franchise-record in that department by a healthy margin.

New England's 17 points allowed through three games shattered the team's previous best mark — 33 points allowed through the first three games of the 1979 season.

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Jets RB Le'Veon Bell 'embraces the hate' in strange tweet following loss to Patriots

Jets RB Le'Veon Bell 'embraces the hate' in strange tweet following loss to Patriots

The New England Patriots cruised to their third victory of the 2019 NFL season with a 30-14 win over the New York Jets. But despite the loss, Le'Veon Bell isn't down on the potential of the Jets.

After the game, Bell unleashed a strange tweet addressed to his "haters" and encouraged them to not "go casper" once the Jets turn things around.

This is quite a lot to digest, and the use of the phrase "go casper" is entertaining. But the timing of this message is certainly strange. Sure, the Jets are 0-3 and could bounce-back from a slow start. But at the moment, things aren't looking great for them on offense and they were just completely shut down by the Patriots. 

The Jets haven't been able to score much this season. They only have a total of 33 points through three games. They're also on their third-string quarterback, Luke Falk, after Sam Darnold's mono diagnosis and Trevor Siemian's season-ending ankle injury.

And Bell himself, the Jets' best offensive weapon, hasn't played well either. The Patriots held him to just 35 yards on 18 carries while he added 28 receiving yards to the mix. So far this season, he is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and hasn't had as big of an impact as the Jets were likely hoping when they signed him.

While the Jets still have time to get things turned around as Bell noted, they are already three games back of the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East race. And with Darnold still out for the foreseeable future, it doesn't seem like their offense is going to get much better moving forward.

We'll see if Bell can help to motivate his team and create a better situation for the Jets by the next time they next take on the Patriots (Week 7). But for the time being, this team certainly shouldn't worry New England much as they seek to wrap up this decade as the only winner of the AFC East.

Julian Edelman exits Patriots win with chest injury>>>

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