10/24/21 Update: At 11:00am, Rhamondre Stevenson was declared inactive for today’s game. He remains a strong long-term play as a potential bell-cow-in-waiting.
When fantasy football managers were drafting this year, Rhamondre Stevenson was not a popular selection. In fact, his RB50 ADP suggests he might have been waiver fodder for many of you. But Stevenson has always been a potential breakout candidate if the right dominoes fell. Heading into Week 7, if he plays, he’s poised for a repeat of Week 6 and possibly more. Is he worth an add on the waiver wire?
Rhamondre Stevenson’s background
The Patriots drafted Stevenson in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. In his first preseason game, the rookie amassed 127 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 rushing attempts. In the following preseason contest, he rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, adding a reception for 8 yards.
However, Stevenson also lost a fumble. Then in Week 1, he lost another fumble. And on a Bill Belichick-led team, fumbles don’t fly. Damien Harris and James White dominated backfield touches from that point forward, and Stevenson did not touch the ball again in Weeks 2-4.
However, White’s injury and a Harris fumble opened the door for Stevenson. In Week 5, he earned 11 touches, and then last weekend, he put together an impressive showing (62 total yards and a score) on 8 touches. His performance will likely earn him more engagement as the weeks go on, as long as he maintains ball security.
Why Stevenson is a terrific waiver add
As shared earlier this week, when I’m examining potential sleepers, I like projecting game flow. Will one team’s dominance allow them to feature a player who normally doesn’t get many touches? For example, this weekend, Stevenson will face a Jets team that has given up almost twice as many points as it’s scored. This has all the makings of another comfortable Patriot victory, meaning Stevenson should see 10+ touches and is a decent bet for another score.
But beyond this week, it’s hard to imagine Belichick phasing out his talented rookie. The 2-4 Patriots are a longshot to reach the postseason this year, and de facto starting RB Harris is only signed through next season. Belichick has been known to trade assets to improve his team’s future prospects. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives Stevenson more run this year to see if he could handle a bell-cow role in 2022.
The stat that jumped out at me in Week 6 was Stevenson’s 3 catches for 39 yards. That’s a difference-maker for fantasy managers. How many times have we witnessed running backs rush for 80-100 yards on 20 carries … with 0 catches and 0 TDs? That’s no way to lead a team to a title. Maybe in the NFL. But not in fantasy.
And here, we’re interested in fantasy. If Stevenson is indeed a more complete back than Harris (who has only 13 receptions in 16 NFL starts), then he has the potential to outperform Harris even if they’re splitting touches.
That’s what we want in a Week 7 matchup with the Jets if he plays. And that’s what we want in a midseason waiver period screaming for upside potential.