Sony Michel was the forgotten man in New England, until his recent trade to the LA Rams, here we look at the fantasy fallout of that move. After the Achilles injury which ruled Cam Akers out for the season, the Los Angeles Rams have made a move to sign New England Patriots’ running back Sony Michel for a 5th and a 6th. This will become a conditional 4th if they get one, which seems likely to be the case from the Browns’ deal for safety John Johnson III.
My thoughts on the deal as a Rams fan aside (we have a troubled history with running backs out of Georgia with knee injuries), we have to deal with the fantasy fallout of this move. This is catered more towards dynasty. As some of the lesser-known players will have been targeted in the offseason after the Akers injury.
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The first person to talk about is, of course, Sony himself. Sony was concerned a cut candidate for the Patriots. With Damien Harris, James White, and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson locking up their ever-confusing backfield. He is a player whose value has dwindled in the past few years, going from someone seen as an RB2, to off draft boards completely.
Now, Michel has some value again. Not much, but some. We have to consider that Darrell Henderson (we’ll come onto him in a moment) is still the RB1 on the Rams. But Michel has the opportunity to step into that role for a very high-powered offense with a solid ground game. Sean McVay’s love of play action for deep threats off an outside zone-based run scheme is one that Michel should fit right into. Especially considering that the Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown was Michel’s coach at Georgia in 2015. It might not start prettily, but Henderson’s injury history might give Michel the potential to be the starter in LA.
Upgrade – Low end RB2 with upside
Henderson is likely the biggest casualty of this move. Whilst he should still be the presumed starter in the horns, any fantasy player hoping for a bell-cow role for Henderson has now seen that out of the window. More damning for Henderson is what this move says about the Rams’ opinion of him as a player. There isn’t the trust there that Henderson has a three-down skill set. Or perhaps they don’t trust his ability to stay healthy. Either way, the Rams have signaled their intentions by bringing in Michel to compete for the RB1 job.
However, it’s worth noting that Henderson would likely still be the player I would target in the Rams backfield if I were forced to. The more likely case is that I would not dip into this backfield. To me, this move signals the Rams looking to run through a committee. You might get some good weeks of Henderson, you might get some good weeks of Michel. You might get some games where Robert Woods or Tutu Atwell see a chunk of work in jet sweeps and end arounds. Either way, the cost of Henderson’s ADP is now too high for me. Although I’m expecting him to drop from where he’s risen to in the offseason, which is around the late 4th round.
Downgrade – Low end RB2 with upside
New England Patriots RBs
I’m going to cover the three-headed monster of Damien Harris, James White, and Rhamondre Stevenson in one swoop here. I like these three players individually. I think their skillsets are interesting and complimentary. White out of the backfield, Harris for your early-down work, and Stevenson for your goal-line work. However, I’m still not interested in drafting any of these players. The removal of Michel sends them a tick upwards in my rankings, but doesn’t move the needle enough for me to be interested in them.
The Patriots have had a murky backfield for fantasy for as long as I can remember. That isn’t changing just because there are now only three names to be confused about, as opposed to four.
Jake Funk and Xavier Jones
Look, Jake Funk has a really fun name. And Xavier Jones has hung around as a UDFA for a couple of years. If that’s enough for you to hang on to the players you spent all that FAAB on earlier in the offseason in the hope they’d be the RB2 in blue and yellow, then that’s fine. But you can cut these players now.
One of them will make the roster and the other will likely hang around on the practice squad (my money’s on Funk making the 53 after an impressive showing against the Raiders). But without an injury making things interesting, these aren’t players you need to be rostering.
Downgrade – irrelevant
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Image Credit: Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports