Dynasty Football Rankings | Tony Pollard vs Rhamondre Stevenson vs Najee Harris

by Shervon Fakhimi · Draft Strategy

We’ve all been there. You’re on the clock. Precious seconds are ticking away. You’re debating between a portion of players. Tony Pollard, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Najee Harris are all going at roughly the same spot in Dynasty Startup drafts right now. They’re separated by 12 spots in PlayerProfiler’s Dynasty Football Rankings. Who is the optimal pick in Dynasty? Let’s figure it out together.

Mythbusting Tony Pollard

The Dallas Cowboys never gave Pollard a workhorse role despite him being more efficient than Ezekiel Elliott for multiple seasons. Yes, every team wants to keep their star running back fresh to get him through the grind that is the regular season. However, not only did Dallas feel compelled to play Elliott through his bloated contract, they internally had the belief that Pollard would not be as effective towards the end of games with a higher workload to start. Of course, there is evidence to the contrary.

That’s from the perspective of snaps in a game. What about workload? I gathered every game Pollard has registered at least 15 opportunities (carries + targets) in his NFL career. Unfortunately, there are only 16 of those out of a possible 62. The Cowboys seem to think that Pollard won’t be the great running back he is with an enhanced workload. The data would suggest otherwise.

It turns out that Tony Pollard is incredibly good and efficient at football. He’s been that way for his entire career. You find any stat on PlayerProfiler and Pollard is excellent at it. If there’s one area of the game that has held Pollard back, it is pass protection. However, he improved greatly in pass protection last season. Per PFF via Nick Penticoff on Twitter, Pollard ranked No. 3 in PFF’s pass blocking grade among running backs. You can’t take him off the field for pass protection anymore! And if Pollard is on the field for more pass plays, that means more fantasy points.

The Guy

Someone will take some carries off his shoulders but make no mistake about: Tony Pollard is the guy. He will lead this backfield. When he does, there will be plenty of room for Pollard’s workload and fantasy value to grow compared to 2022. Ezekiel Elliott averaged 18 opportunities per game during Pollard’s second-half breakout when both running backs played. Pollard averaged 18.67 opportunities.

Elliott had 40 red zone touches in 2022. This ranked No. 13 among running backs. 13 of those came at the goal line. Pollard had just 27 red zone touches and six goal-line touches. Again, with Elliott not back in the fold, it feels safe to assume those touches will go to Pollard. Any regression that could come Pollard’s way (he did score six more touchdowns than a replacement-level player would’ve with his touches in 2022) should get staved off by an increase in not just volume but also volume near the end zone. 

It’s great to see that Pollard can put together an outlier type of season while splitting a backfield. He shouldn’t have to rely on that in 2023. Pollard has averaged just over 20 PPR points per game in the games he’s seen at least 15 opportunities. That’s the type of upside Pollard has. He should see that type of volume in Dallas in 2023. If he doesn’t, odds are that Dallas doesn’t retain him and he goes somewhere that will.

Belitricks Up His Sleeve?

I didn’t realize how great a season Rhamondre Stevenson had last season until I started digging into research for this article. Stevenson was No. 14 among running backs in yards per route run in 2022 (1.35). He was No. 17 in yards per touch (5.2). Stevenson was No. 13 in breakaway run rate (7.1-percent). He ranked No. 6 in yards created per touch (3.43) and No. 3 in juke rate (40.5-percent). But that only amounted to being the RB11 in PPR points per game. Why? Touchdowns. Stevenson had just six touchdowns in 17 games on 279 touches last season. To put that in context, Tony Pollard had 12 touchdowns in 16 games on 232 touches.

Stevenson made the most of an anemic offense. The Patriots’ offense should be better in 2023 because it’s hard to be much worse. Bill O’Brien is in charge now. Jakobi Meyers was lost in free agency to Patriots West (the Las Vegas Raiders), but JuJu Smith-Schuster will replace him. Still, there isn’t a ton of talent on this offense.

Patriots Running Backs

It’s also worth wondering if the Patriots will look to include more running backs in their rotation next season. They shouldn’t make a major change. Stevenson is clearly capable of being a three-down workhorse with his size (5-11 231-pounds) and skillset. But we are talking about the Patriots after all. They’ve proven time and time again you can’t expect anything with them. Case in point is Ty Montgomery. Did you know he ran seven more routes (11-4) and registered two more targets (4-2) than Stevenson back in Week 1 before Montgomery was injured and Stevenson broke out?

Reports are already circulating that Ty Montgomery could be the leader to be the Patriots’ third down back. I’m certainly not going to argue Montgomery should overtake Stevenson here, but we have to be prepared for the scenario that Montgomery eats into Stevenson’s receiving work. If that happens and Montgomery saps roughly 20-30 targets away from Stevenson, is Stevenson’s workload going to be enough to keep him above water as an RB1?

Montgomery might not be the only one who could snatch work away from Stevenson either. You might not remember it, but the Patriots did draft two talented running backs last year: Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. They reportedly wanted to add a ‘blue-chip’ running back in this year’s draft too and visited with TCU running back Kendre Miller before the 2023 NFL draft. Strong was a fourth rounder with a similar build to Elijah Mitchell but with a better-receiving profile.

Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris could’ve been a Day 2 pick had he not played through a back injury. He fell to the sixth round instead. Neither Strong nor Harris did much as a rookie outside of Strong dropping a 5-70-1 and 2-2-20 performance on Monday Night Football in Week 14 filling in for an injured Stevenson. That’s by design, though. The Patriots hardly ever use rookie running backs.

Bill Belichick typically eases rookies in, but that pattern has long been borne with running backs. Only Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson himself have registered over 500 yards of offense as a rookie running back for the Patriots since 2011. But of the eight rookie running backs the Patriots have drafted since 2011, only Sony Michel saw his workload and production decrease in his second season.

I don’t think we can rule out one of Pierre Strong, Kevin Harris, or Ty Montgomery becoming a thorn in Stevenson’s side in 2023. Someone is going to have to replace Damien Harris’s work from last year, and I’m not banking on Stevenson to take all of it. Harris missed six games in 2022. Excluding the Week 14 game Stevenson left early, Stevenson averaged 16.4 PPR points per game in the games Harris missed compared to 14.8 points per game with Harris. Stevenson had a 59-percent rush share in games Harris played and finished and a 78-percent share without him. He also had a 17-percent target share with Harris and a 21-percent target share without him.

Fading Stevenson?

This may sound like I’m saying to fade Rhamondre Stevenson. I’m not by any means. The shares with Damien Harris available were still very good! Don’t fade good players. I think his No. 57-overall placement in PlayerProfiler’s Superflex Dynasty rankings feels about right. Stevenson is undoubtedly very good at the game. He should be an RB1 in fantasy yet again this season. I have a hard time thinking with certainty he will crack into the top five among fantasy running backs in points per game. I feel much better about Tony Pollard doing so. 

Steelin’ Work

Najee Harris isn’t in that tier, but perhaps you could make the case he should be. Things broke the complete opposite way for Najee Harris in 2022 compared to Rhamondre Stevenson. A Lisfranc injury suffered in training camp sapped Harris’ efficiency during the first half of the 2022 season. A poor offensive line and a quarterback room of Mitchell Trubisky and a rookie Kenny Pickett didn’t help matters either. However, the Steelers were better after their bye. The Steelers eclipsed 20 points as a team just three times in their first eight games. They hit that mark five times in their last nine games. 

Jaylen Warren

That, in turn, helped Najee Harris. A rising tide lifts all boats. After averaging 10.8 PPR points per game from Weeks 1-8, Harris bumped his average up to 15 PPR points per game from Week 9 onward. Harris also had a plate removed from his foot before the second half of the season. Harris underwhelmed in 2022. However, despite a terrible Steelers offense, the emergence of Jaylen Warren as a legit backup and breather back, and an injury to Harris’ foot, Harris still finished as the RB14 in PPR scoring. However, he was the RB19 in points per game.

Harris should improve in 2023 though. We already saw the Steelers’ offense improve as the season went on in 2022. A year under the belt for Pickett should signal improvement from here on out. The Steelers also acquired major improvements along their offensive line in the offseason. Not only did they sign Isaac Seumalo away from the Philadelphia Eagles, but they also leapfrogged the New York Jets to draft Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones in the NFL Draft. Don’t forget about the selection of Georgia tight end Darnell Washington either. Washington had a PFF run block grade of 81.5. That’s great.

Adding Key Pieces

These additions should work wonders for Harris who had a run-blocking rating of 47.2. This ranked No. 55 among running backs. Despite that, Harris registered a 32.3-percent juke rate, which ranked No. 10 among running backs. The problem wasn’t making defenders miss for Harris last year. It was that he had to do it so frequently.

So is that enough for Najee Harris to jump into the Tony Pollard, Breece Hall, and Rhamondre Stevenson tier? I don’t think so. If Warren weren’t around, then yes. But Warren solidifying a role for himself in Pittsburgh’s offense caps Harris’s ceiling. Not only was there a bigger receiving pie for the Steelers’ offense in Harris’s rookie season, but there also wasn’t any competition out of the backfield. Harris had an 86.4-percent opportunity share in 2022. That number fell to 69.9-percent in 2023. Harris ran 424 routes in 2022, had a route participation of 64-percent, a target share of 14.5-percent, and 94 total targets. Here are those numbers in 2023 in the same order: 249 routes run, 43.6-percent route participation, 9.7-percent target share, and 53 total targets. 

Those usage numbers dropped and for good reason. Jaylen Warren is good. He ranked No. 12 among running backs in true yards per carry (4.7). His yards per touch was No. 11 at the position (5.6). He also was No. 5 in juke rate (40-percent) and yards created per touch (3.82). Warren and Harris’s target shares combine to just over Harris’s 14.5-percent in 2022. But it goes to show how sharing not even a big piece of the pie can shift the fantasy value of a player compared to them having the pie all to themself.


The duel of Tony Pollard vs Rhamondre Stevenson vs Najee Harris comes down to usage. All three are among the best at making defenders miss. All of them have three down skillsets. We know Najee Harris will be sharing work with Jaylen Warren. Rhamondre Stevenson might split work with someone. This might be Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong, maybe both. We know Tony Pollard should have most of Dallas’ backfield to himself and can make the most out of a split as drastic as last year’s was with Ezekiel Elliott that won’t be the case this year.

Though Pollard is older and isn’t on a rookie contract anymore, he isn’t even a year older than either Stevenson or Harris. Guys like Pierre Strong and Jaylen Warren should be around for the majority of Stevenson and Harris’s rookie contracts too. Those areas along with Dallas’ offense being far superior gives Tony Pollard the edge in every format for me. Then comes Stevenson, and Harris rounding out the rear.