Heading into Week 15, both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris are injury concerns for the New England Patriots and fantasy football managers. With the Patriots’ backfield in flux for this week, what are the latest injury updates, and what does it all mean from a fantasy perspective?
Update: Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris were both listed as questionable after practice on Friday. However, Harris was downgraded to out on Saturday.
Injury Updates for Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris
There was mixed injury news with Stevenson and Harris on Wednesday. Stevenson was absent from practice, while Harris was at least able to be limited. That leaves things delicately balanced as we look forward to Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Stevenson left the game on Monday against the Arizona Cardinals with an ankle issue. While he briefly returned to the game, he was ruled out shortly afterward. The fact he was able to return, albeit briefly, should be a good sign with the injury. While it may not mean he can play in Week 15, hopefully, the absence will not be a long one.
Meanwhile, Harris has missed the last two games with a thigh issue in what has been a tough season for the fourth-year RB. However, with starting the week questionable, the hope is that Harris is on track to return this week. If Stevenson is out, then that might push the Patriots to bring Harris back, even if he isn’t 100%.
What Is the Fantasy Outlook for Stevenson, Damien Harris, Kevin Harris, and Pierre Strong Jr.?
The situation in the New England backfield is intriguing for fantasy managers with the injuries for Stevenson and Damien Harris. When both of them have been active, they’ve had a tendency to make each other somewhat unreliable from a fantasy perspective. The Patriots had been largely rotating drives, with Stevenson seeing extra work on third downs.
Stevenson had been a more reliable contributor for fantasy managers. From Weeks 3 to 13, he scored double-digit fantasy points in every game. Last week ended that streak, but that was due to injury, as opposed to poor performance on his behalf. If Stevenson can get to a point where he isn’t limited this week, then he would be a tough fantasy option not to start.
In contrast, it’s been tough sledding if you drafted Harris this year. While he scored double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR formats in three of the first four weeks, Harris has only done so once since then. Part of the reason is that he’s only played in nine of the Patriots’ 13 games this year. Harris has battled illness and injury, causing him to either miss games or be heavily limited.
If Stevenson were to miss the game, Harris’ value would depend on his status entering this week. If he heads into the game limited, then he could be on a snap count, which would make his value hard to trust. But if Harris can get cleared from the injury report on Friday and Stevenson is ruled out, he’ll be intriguing.
The other element to consider is if both Stevenson and Harris are ruled out. In that event, it would bring the two rookie running backs — Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. — into play. Both found the end zone last week against the Cardinals and looked good.
The Raiders have been an above-average matchup for opposing RBs in the last four weeks. So if we have a clear picture entering Sunday, there could be intriguing value to be found here.
Unfortunately, if Damien Harris and/or Stevenson are game-time decisions, this could be a situation where only Best Ball formats, such as Underdog Fantasy, are places where the Patriots’ backfield will have significant value this week.