Should You Start Rhamondre Stevenson or Ezekiel Elliott in Fantasy Football Week 8?

Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott have been getting hot the last two weeks. Which of the Patriots RBs is the better start in Week 8?

We’re diving into the outlooks for Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott in fantasy football for Week 8. Who is the better player to start this week? Can you play both New England Patriots RBs? Let’s dive in.

Rhamondre Stevenson’s Fantasy Outlook This Week

There’s nothing to call the start of Stevenson’s 2023 season besides a massive disappointment. Many will point to the late addition of Ezekiel Elliott as the reason why. Maybe that the Patriots rested their star RB early and often throughout training camp. His last two weeks have shown signs of life, though. What’s his Week 8 outlook?

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Over the last two weeks, Stevenson has been more involved with the Patriots offense. After trending down for five weeks, Stevenson’s playing time has gone up in the last two. Over those games, he’s seen 9.5 carries per game as well as an additional six targets in each game. He’s posted two top-20 performances in that span as well.

The Patriots weirdly went away from one of Stevenson’s best attributes: his receiving game.

With that back, they’ve unlocked the key to his success. The Patriots also appear to have corrected many of the offensive line issues from earlier in the year, as Stevenson has been his most efficient on the ground over the past two weeks, too.

The Dolphins matchup is not favorable for either Patriots RB, as they’ve allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to RBs over the last month despite allowing the seventh-most carries to RBs over that span and three rushing TDs. This doesn’t point to an ideal Stevenson matchup, and neither does their ability to slow the passing game.

RBs have seen just 10 targets against Miami over the last month, the second-fewest among all teams. Interestingly, all 10 were completed for 9.5 yards per catch. So it might be an instance of teams abandoning it or just not using their RBs in that way. Which way this goes likely leads to which RB is the better start.

Ezekiel Elliott’s Fantasy Outlook This Week

Ezekiel Elliott has been a useful second option so far for the Patriots, and his last two weeks have been top-24 finishes at RB. This has mainly been on the back of his role as the Patriots’ hammer back, as he’s scored short TDs each week.

For Elliott to keep up his successful ways, he’ll likely need another rushing TD in Week 8. The Dolphins matchup likely has two factors to consider with regards to rushing TDs for Elliott.

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The first is their ability to slow the run. As mentioned above, the Dolphins have allowed three rushing scores over the last month. This is on 11 red-zone carries and five carries with a goal-to-go situation. Both of those are among the 10th-fewest among all NFL teams, so teams are simply trying to pass in the red zone more against Miami.

The other piece is the game script. Miami has blown teams out at times and then struggled against others. Which way does this game go? Vegas has the spread at -9.5 in Miami, so they think the Dolphins will bounce back. With a 47-point over/under, that gives the Patriots an implied 19 points.

Which of the Patriots’ RBs Should You Start?

The Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer says that Stevenson is the player to start. His projected 9.0 points include 37.3 rushing yards, 3.5 receptions, 21.3 receiving yards, and 0.2 TDs. That doesn’t seem like a big stat line, but it outperforms the consensus projection for Elliott (6.0 points).

My rankings for the two Patriots running backs align with the consensus because the game figures to see the Patriots trailing and, therefore, passing more. That type of game, as discussed above, leans toward Stevenson. While Miami hasn’t seen many passes to RBs, I think that’s more about opponents, as what they have has been successful.

Stevenson is likely a good RB2 candidate who’ll put up four to five catches and decent yardage. Elliott, on the other hand, needs to find the end zone. Of those two options, I’ll take Stevenson, especially since both RBs have two TDs on the ground this year, so Elliott isn’t even the clear goal-line RB.

Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

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