Rhamondre Stevenson Fantasy | Studs and Duds

by Aaron St. Denis · Studs and Duds

Going into the 2022 season there was a growing list of running backs who were projected to see a larger role in their teams offense. Because of this, many fantasy analysts projected these running backs to take the next step into fantasy stardom. Rhamondre Stevenson and Chase Edmonds were two of the running backs on that list. Both running backs looked primed to have a breakout season.

Today, we will take a look back at the two running backs to better understand the process of how they were projected so highly and what went wrong or right. Stevenson will represent our Stud. Edmonds will represent our dud.

When 2022 fantasy drafts rolled around Edmonds was available consistently at the tail end of the fifth round. He checked in with an ADP of 71 at RB28. Stevenson on the other hand was available in at the beginning of the seventh round. He consistently went at pick 86 as RB36. This brings us to our first observation. Just because one running back was drafted two rounds ahead of another does not guarantee he will be the better of the two.

Stud: Rhamondre Stevenson

The 2022 season started off slowly for Stevenson. He finished as RB56 and RB43 in the first two weeks of the season as Damien Harris was seeing the bulk of the work in New England. Harris saw a bulk of the work after an early season fumble landed Stevenson in the doghouse. As Harris began to battle injuries early on in the season, Stevenson started to see his touches increase. Thus began an epic streak. Starting in Week 3 he finished as a top 12 running back in eight of his next 12 games before cooling off late in the season as he struggled with his own injuries.

During his 12 game hot streak he averaged 70.2 rushing yards, 31.3 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdowns. This proved good for 17.6 fantasy points per game.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

Although he functioned as a backup for the majority of his rookie season, he showed the ability to rack up impressive games when given the chance. This includes two games of over 20 fantasy points in the final two months of the campaign. Heading into the 2022 off-season it was no secret that the Patriots were looking to give him a larger role in the offense.

Despite the expansion of his role being widely rumored, his ADP never sky rocketed the way it should have. Early on in draft season (pre NFL draft), I was routinely getting him in the 10th round or later. Even after the rumors of his role expansion were confirmed by the Patriots coaching staff, his ADP only went up by two to three rounds.

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Rhamondre Stevenson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

In 2022 drafts, I frequently employed the Hero-RB strategy. In any league where I made it to round seven with only one running back, I quickly snapped him up. He was the potential league winner a Hero-RB manager needed to hit on. Hit is exactly what he did.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

Sometimes we over-complicate fantasy football. A running back available in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts who is being projected to see a major boost in opportunities is an easy wager to make. It can be difficult to discern what preseason coach speak is real and which is just smoke and mirrors. With that in mind, Stevenson was far from a sure thing. However, at his price, the upside was far too enticing.

I had no specific allure to his talent or profile specifically. By all accounts he was regarded as a superior running back to Harris. However, it wasn’t by such a wide margin that I considered him to be the locked in Week 1 starter. Ultimately, he wasn’t the Week 1 starter and required an early season injury to Harris to get his first big chance at being the lead back.

Bill Belichick has a history or splitting touches between multiple running backs and is well known for proclivity to show little loyalty to the incumbent starter. Therefore, going into 2022 the Patriots back field was a true wild card with a wide range of outcomes. Stevenson just happened to hit on his best case scenario.

What Did You Learn?

Hero-RB can be an excellent strategy to a seasoned fantasy manager. However, that will also require you to hit on multiple late round running back targets. Rarely is anyone lucky enough to draft two late round running backs and hit on both. Rather it becomes a war of attrition, you must draft a handful of them with your late picks in hopes of finding one or two that can be serviceable starters.

A prime target for this war of attrition is to target the cheaper running back in an unstable back field.  Harris was going roughly one round ahead of Stevenson and in a back field with no guarantees. It turned out drafting the cheaper of the two proved to be a solid value. The strategy of drafting running backs in muddied back fields doesn’t always work out though as we will see later with Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds. However, it gives fantasy gamers a chance to hit on a massively undervalued player that won’t cost you much draft capital.

Where Do You Feel Comfortable Drafting Him in 2023?

I will likely not have many shares of him in 2023. Value is King for me. His current 1QB ADP is at the back end of Round 3. That’s a price I am unlikely to pay up for. Harris has since moved on and the talent and opportunity should be there for Stevenson to produce another solid season. However, drafting him in Round 3 is likely drafting him at his ceiling.

Another potential issue is the Patriots desire to draft a plethora or rookie running backs each season. Their coaching staff specifically coached pass catching running backs at the Senior Bowl. This leads to speculation they could be in the market to draft a rookie with pass catching chops. Even if they don’t draft another running back, they still have Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong from the 2022 rookie class on the roster. Both are more than capable of stealing touches from Stevenson.

Patriots Yearly Rushing Leaders

Patriots Yearly Rushing Leaders by footballdb.com

A more concerning trend among the Patriots is that Stevenson appears to be near the ceiling for rushing yards by a Patriots running back. Since 2006 no Patriot rusher has surpassed 1,300 yards. This puts a fairly mediocre cap on fantasy output. The Patriots running backs that have been truly elite have all come on the backs of outlier touchdown production that should be considered fluky at best.

Dud: Chase Edmonds

The 2022 season was supposed to be the big breakout season for Chase Edmonds. He spent the past four seasons in the shadow of aging superstar James Conner. While he never received a featured role, he exploded when given the chance to start over the oft-injured Conner. Heading into the 2022 season he moved onto the Miami Dolphins. The only thing that stood between Edmonds and a monster breakout was journeyman running back Raheem Mostert. Mostert missed the entire 2021 season to an ACL injury suffered on the first play of the year.

With little more than an aging and injured journeymen in his way, his ADP quickly began to rise as most analysts assumed a breakout was imminent and the starting job was surely his. This is where coach speak once again proved truthful. Heading into the preseason Mike McDaniel made numerous remarks that Mostert was healthy and was going to be the Week 1 starter despite the Dolphins recently giving Edmonds a hefty contract. Fantasy managers didn’t buy into this statement and continued to draft Edmonds as the presumed starter.

Edmonds would go on to total 245 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He proved to be a bust of epic proportions. Mostert racked up 891 rushing yards and five touchdowns despite battling injuries all season long. To make matters worse, the Dolphins eventually brought in 49ers running back Jeff Wilson who also outproduced Edmonds significantly. Wilson totaled 860 yards and six touchdowns. Eventually the Dolphins gave playing time to depth players such as Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. They all but relegated Edmonds to inactivity before he was ultimately traded to the Broncos in the Bradley Chubb deal.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

Edmonds was my guy from the second he signed with Miami. He signed a 2 year/$12 million deal and was easily considered to be the starter in a back field that featured the most injury plagued running back in NFL history. He showed many glimpses of being an elite talent when given the opportunity in Arizona. I assumed Edmonds would step into his new found starting role and accel from day one.

Chase Edmonds Advanced Stats & Metrics

He came into the 2022 season as one of the most efficient running backs that consistently produced on limited touches. But, as is common, with a huge rise in opportunities comes a huge decrease in efficiency.  Edmonds quickly became an unplayable asset. He went from being drafted as a RB2 into the range of being dropped outright onto waivers in most leagues.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

As I’ve stated before, opportunity is key for running backs. I will take a mediocre running back that will receive 20 touches per game over a talented running back that will be functioning primarily as a tandem. Take the case of Najee Harris vs Michael Carter in their rookie seasons. Opportunity is what matters most. Opportunity is what Edmonds figured to get. The contract he received was a solid indication the Dolphins saw him as their starter. Mostert being his only competition for touches appeared to be the perfect combination to produce a high end fantasy asset. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Mike McDaniel turned Miami into the AFC version of the San Francisco 49ers. This back field quickly became a committee type nightmare to avoid in fantasy league.

What Did You Learn?

I learned there is no such things as a guarantee in fantasy football, whether a first round running back gets injured or a later round dart throws busts there are no sure things. Due to this uncertainty, I also learned it is more important to trust the process in fantasy football projections rather than to be deterred by the results.

In the two cases in this article we see the same process involved in both. One was a home run swing while the other was an epic bust. This, as I mentioned earlier is the primary reason fantasy gamers must draft a large volume of running backs late in drafts when attempting the Hero-RB strategy. Some are going to hit and some are going to miss. It comes down to a numbers game in the end.

Where Do You Feel Comfortable Drafting Him in 2023?

I’ve learned my lesson with regards to Edmonds. What appeared to be a prime opportunity quickly saw him fall off the face of the fantasy football earth. He has since moved on and signed a one year prove it deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This will likely be his last chance to see a sizable role in an NFL offense. I don’t see him as anything more than a late round dart throw and a potential injury handcuff for second year starter Rachaad White. I will not be actively targeting him on any of my rosters. In the event of an injury, he certainly has his share of upside. If given the starting job, he could succeed where he failed in Miami, but it’s not worth anything more than a late flier.

A Tale of Two Players

One strategy, two players and two extremely different outcomes. While the process was the same on both players, ultimately, one was a huge hit and one was a big miss. The main takeaway here should be that in many circumstances, when attempting the Hero-RB strategy the later round targets can pay off just as easily as the mid round targets. It’s a numbers game. Draft running backs in ambivalent back fields and hopefully you will be lucky enough to come away with a few that can lead you to a fantasy championship.