It’s Always Sony in New England

#FantasyFootball
Dan Gorski
@TheDanGorski

Just like the TV show, The New England Patriots running back corp over the last 5 years has always been nothing short of entertaining in the world of fantasy football. At any given day, any one of the Pats 5 RBs could be the lead dog. The Patriots over the years have somehow found a way to have a running back for every given situation. Whether it be short yardage, first and ten, 3rd and long passing situation, or goal line, the Pats have always had running backs with situational skill sets to turn to.

Bold Prediction

My bold prediction for the 2018 Fantasy Football season is that the New England Patriots FINALLY stick to one lead back. A first down to third down workhorse and pass catching back. A leader in the backfield from which the Patriots can pace their offense through while using 3 other featured change of pace backs and situational backs occasionally. This back I speak of is non-other than the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sony Michel.

Now, let’s break down the reasoning, and what it is about Sony Michel that made the Patriots select him over many other talented collegiate players and most interestingly, over viable backup options for Tom Brady. The Patriots had glaring needs all over the board while drafting in the first round, yet they still took Sony Michel. Let’s take a look at the why.

College Production

If Sony Michel’s collegiate football career was a fantasy football player, it would be at the top of my sleeper list! Sony’s amazing ability and knack for the end zone was highly overshadowed due to him being a backup to newly drafted Cleveland Brown’s RB, Nick Chubb. By the end of his collegiate career, Sony Michel’s 4-year stat line looked like this:

Sony Michel’s College Stats

Attempts: 590
Yards: 3,613
Avg: 6.1
TD: 33

Now let me blow your mind for a minute, and quickly get to the punch line of this article and pull you onto the Sony Michel bandwagon! Let’s now take a look at the collegiate career stats of one of the best running backs in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott’s College Stats

Attempts: 592
Yards: 3,961
Avg: 6.7
TD: 43

Surprised? You should be, those are extremely comparable numbers! These stats highly point to just why the Patriots struck on Sony when they did.

The Other Guys

You may be thinking, “Ok I believe in Sony and his ability, but what about James White, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, and the newly acquired Jeremy Hill?” Well, what I say to that is what I said earlier. The Patriots like to have a back for every situation. For those 4 other backs though, the situation is not first and ten or second and short.

Rex Burkhead is a hard running, situational receiving back. Mike Gillislee is a goal-line bruiser. James White is, of course, Tom Brady’s go-to receiving back. However, I do think that is bound to change with the arrival of Sony Michel. Michel is a playmaker over all else, over being a lead back or being a workhorse, he is over all things simply, a playmaker. That is something Tom Brady is going to learn very quickly and exploit against other teams every week at a high volume.

2018 Workload

Sony Michel’s workload will remind many Patriots fans of one of their former RBs, Corey Dillon. It has been over a decade since the Patriots committed to a lead running back, and I’m telling you, the time has arrived and this is the year THAT changes! Looking ahead to this 2018 season, Sony Michel stands to eat up the 180 Rushing attempts from former Patriot RB Dion Lewis, as well as 30-40 receptions in his place. Keep in mind Deon Lewis ranked in the top 12 of fantasy RB’s last year (standard scoring). Not to mention what will happen when Brady and Belichick fall in love with Sony and start scheming around him.

I will boldly say here what no one has said thus far about any RB this year. Sony Michel could be the closest thing we see this year to Alvin Kamara in 2017. I see a sneaky, highly productive, and maybe even surprising season to most for Sony Michel. He is the kind of back that makes the most of every opportunity he gets, and in New England, the opportunity is what’s for dinner. I’m taking Sony Michel over Kenyan Drake, Devonta Freeman, Derrius Guice, Jay Ajayi, and Christian McCaffrey. I believe the following RBs will exceed their expected production as well: Saquon Barkley, Rashad Penny, Dalvin Cook, Jordan Howard, and Ronald Jones II. Sony Michel will eat in 2018.

2018 Prediction

Rushing Yards: 1125
Rush TDs: 5
Receptions: 31
Receiving Yards: 335

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