Rhamondre Stevenson 2021 Fantasy Sleeper as the Patriots' Next LaGarrette Blount - Roto Street Journal
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Rhamondre Stevenson 2021 Fantasy Sleeper as the Patriots’ Next LaGarrette Blount

Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson wasted no time and made an immediate impact on the Patriots’ offense during the team’s first preseason game. Stevenson was third in the early-down pecking order Thursday, but he scored a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that capped five straight runs by the Oklahoma rookie. Then, with just over a minute left in the game, Stevenson took a pitch and outran the entire Washington Football Team defense for a 91-yard game-sealing touchdown run.

Most of Stevenson’s 127 yards came on that one carry, but Bill Belichick might have unearthed a gem in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Currently situated in a loaded backfield that features Damien Harris, James WhiteSony Michel, and JJ Taylor, Stevenson has his work cut out for him. But if he can utilize his 5-foot-11, 231 lb body to provide a physical spark to the backfield, the rookie could rise up the depth chart and make a 2021 fantasy impact.

DYNAMIC SKILL-SET FOR A BIG MAN

Displaying shades of former Patriots’ legend LeGarrette Blount, Stevenson is nimble for his size and possesses quickness at the line of scrimmage and straight-line speed to hit big plays.

“Big back,” Josh McDaniels said of Stevenson. “Certainly, good vision, displayed quick feet, ability to break tackles, make yards with the ball in his hands.”

He showed off his list of elite traits on this one dynamic run against Florida last season.

 

Stevenson is a big, physical back who can play the role of a tone-setting, goal-line back. In the mold of Gus Edwards or a bigger Zack Moss, Stevenson is a no-nonsense north-south running back who can play in a committee, as he did at Oklahoma, or even be the early-down guy.

The former Sooner didn’t clock a fast 40-yard dash (4.63), but as he’s shown already, he has game speed. He also has limited tread on his tires with only 165 collegiate carries (1,180 rushing yards) after sitting out a year and then spending another two years at the JUCO ranks before flourishing in Lincoln Riley’s zone run scheme.

“Overall, Stevenson has a track record of inconsistency, but he is built for the pro game with the smooth footwork to collect, cut and accelerate,” wrote The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. “He projects best as a one-cut runner with pass-catching promise.”

PATRIOTS ROLE

Although Stevenson shined during the preseason opener, the Patriots’ backfield still belongs to Harris. The third-year running back strictly ran with Cam Newton and the first-team. He secured all eight early-down snaps with the starters and only came off the field on obvious passing situations for PPR monster James White. Meanwhile, Michel didn’t play a single snap with Newton and Stevenson didn’t play until the second half.

With Michel being a prime cut candidate in a deep Patriots’ backfield, the rookie could make noise on the goal-line and short-yardage situations.

With a full off-season under Harris’ belt, he is working to become a three-down back. However, he’s had a string of injuries throughout his two-year career, meaning Stevenson would be the next man up if Belichick parts ways with Michel.

Either way, Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss, told SiriusXM Fantasy last month, “I see Harris as the RB1, and it’s pretty decisive.”

An improved surrounding cast, highlighted by Nelson AgholorKendrick BourneJonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry, should lighten the box for the Patriots’ running backs this season. It would also help the backfield’s fantasy outlook if Mac Jones takes over the starting job from Newton, who stole 137 rushing attempts and 12 touchdowns from Harris and the Patriots’ running backs last season.

It’s a significant training camp and preseason on the horizon for the Patriots’ new-look offense. We’ll learn a lot about the loaded running back depth chart, the quarterback battle, and the reloaded offensive line that re-inserted Trent Brown after losing Joe Thuney in free agency.

SUMMARY

Stevenson will be one of those running backs that’ll sit at the end of your fantasy bench, similar to Gus Edwards in the past, but could win random weeks as a spot starter down the line.

“I think Stevenson’s best football is in front of him,” Belichick offered in his post-draft video conference. “He’s big. He can run. He can catch. He’s certainly going to need a lot of work on some of the other finer points. That’s what we’re here for. I’m sure he’ll be ready to get to work and do it.”

His 2021 fantasy outlook is based on Michel’s roster spot, but both Harris and Michel have lengthy injury histories, which could speed up his trajectory.

The Wolf is still low on Stevenson, ranking the rookie RB83 (-12 vs the ECR) on his 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings. Meanwhile, he’s right in line with the experts on Harris at RB28.

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