The Fantasy Football Friday FLEX is where we name our FLEX Play of the Week. And for Week 5 the FLEX Play of the Week is…
FLEX Play of the Week: Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots.
They stir up emotions in people that many didn’t know they had. You either love or hate the Patriots; there is no in-between with them. Guessing what the New England game plan will be is even more difficult because Bill Belichick puts together a team that can come out in a 3 WR set or a 3 TE set and will be efficient in either set. The one thing we know is that every week The Hoodie will feature a RB. While James White is a lock to handle all passing work from the RB position who will take the snaps?
Enter Damien Harris.
I know, I know, you’re thinking: “Dude, it was one game and both Burkhead and White saw double-digit touches.” But hear me out.
Damien Harris made his first career start against Kansas City and handled 17 carries to lead the Patriots backfield in carries. Sony Michel is now on IR and should be there until Week 8-ish. This allows Harris the chance to cement himself as the Patriots RB1. The Patriots will face Denver in Week 5, Bye Week 6, Week 7 they face San Francisco and in Week 8 they take on the Buffalo Bills. While the schedule seems daunting on paper it isn’t as scary in real life.
This week against Denver, the Patriots will face a team that is playing with a reserve QB that should struggle to put up points meaning the Patriots won’t find themselves in a negative game script. Additionally, we saw the Patriots QBs struggle against Kansas City without Cam Newton. With Newton, possibly, expected to be out again this week we will see some combination of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham meaning the run game will be the primary philosophy once again this week.
So far this season the Denver Broncos Defense has allowed the following to RBs this season:
- Derrick Henry/ Tennessee Titans: 31 carries for 116 yards and 0 TD, 3 catches for 15 yards and 0 TD
- James Conner/ Pittsburgh Steelers: 16 carries for 106 yards and 1 TD, 2 catches for 15 yards and 0 TD
- Ronald Jones/ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 13 carries for 53 yards and 0 TD, 2 catches for 20 yards and 0 TD
- Frank Gore/ NY Jets: 13 carries for 30 yards and 0 TD, 1 catch for 6 yards and 0 TD
So while the Denver defense has rebounded over the last 2 weeks it is important to consider game script and game flow. Denver was down 23-10 at halftime after 3 Tom Brady touchdown passes in the first half. The Jets struggled offensively despite posting 28 points against Denver. The Broncos did allow Sam Darnold to post a 46-yard TD run.
So what does this mean?
It means Belichick and his staff will go back and look at what was successful for Tennessee and Pittsburgh in the running game and implement it themselves. Harris is the between-the-tackles RB on this roster and has a lot of upside with or without Cam Newton. There are rumblings that Cam Newton might play against Denver depending on his test results, so monitor that. Either way, with or without Newton, Harris will be the focal point of the run game this upcoming week. Another strong showing and we might have a clear RB1 for New England.
Production Prediction: 21 carries for 97 yards and 1 TD, 1 catch for 4 yards and 0 TD