2018 NFL Draft Fantasy Reaction: Patriots replace Dion Lewis with Sony Michel
Jamey Eisenberg breaks down the Patriots drafting Sony Michel at No. 31 overall in the first round, and he should replace the departed Dion Lewis.
Michel might have to share the ball again in the NFL.
The Patriots drafted Michel at No. 31 overall in the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft. And New England, despite losing Dion Lewis in free agency to Tennessee, definitely has a crowded backfield.
Rex Burkhead got a contract extension, and Jeremy Hill was added as a free agent this offseason. Mike Gillislee and James White remain on the roster, and we know coach Bill Belichick isn't afraid to use multiple backs.
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But Michel should be the No. 1 running back for the Patriots this year, and he's the best option to replace Lewis, who just had more than 1,000 total yards and scored nine touchdowns in 2017. Most likely, Burkhead and White will steal touches from Michel, especially on passing downs, and we'll see if Hill or Gillislee make the final roster.
Michel was a star for the Bulldogs last year. He had 156 carries for 1,227 yards (7.9-yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns and nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He had 48 combined catches in 2015-16, so he's not a total dud as a receiver out of the backfield, but the Patriots don't need him in that capacity with Burkhead and White.
Since Lewis led the team with 180 carries last year, that's a fair projection for Michel in 2018, and he could approach 200 total touches for the season. He will likely be around 1,100 total yards if he stays healthy, and he should be a candidate for about eight total touchdowns.
He's in the mix as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in all leagues, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 6 in standard leagues and Round 8 in PPR. His auction value will likely be about $5-$8 depending on your budget.
There was a report this week that he could have a bone-on-bone situation with his knee, but that clearly didn't impact his draft stock. And as long as he plays in 2018, his re-draft value should be fine.
Jay Ajayi had similar concerns in the 2015 NFL Draft, but so far his knee hasn't been an issue. Hopefully the same thing happens with Michel.
In dynasty leagues, we'll see where Michel stacks up to the rest of the running back draft class, but only Saquon Barkley (Giants) and Rashaad Penny (Seahawks) were taken in the first round with Michel. He will likely be drafted with a late first-round pick in rookie-only drafts, but he could fall to the second round.
As for the rest of New England's backfield, Burkhead now falls to a late-round pick in all leagues, and White is only worth drafting in PPR. Michel should be the lead running back of this committee, and that's something he's used to from his days in college.
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