Most Underrated Player: New England Patriots
Updated: Jul 11
Published by Michael Garrity
As we approach the 2020 football season, there are always those “gems” in fantasy drafts that people pass on maybe because of injury history, or a poor performance from last year. In the Patriots case, many of their players are overlooked. They don’t have a single offensive player that is a reliable starter every game. However, that could change this year. After a disappointing sophomore season, I expect this player to bounce back and be crucial to the Patriots success this year. That man is Sony Michel.
After a fantastic rookie season, and a phenomenal postseason run, it is safe to say that expectations were high for Michel last season. As a Michel owner in 2019-20, I was very frustrated. In Week one against Pittsburgh, Michel had one of the worst performances you’ll see for a running back, fourteen yards on fifteen carries. He scored a career low 1.4 fantasy points. That would not be the last time he posted a one point performance, as he did it again in Week fourteen against Kansas City. He would end up running for eight yards on five carries, and score 1.9 fantasy points. Michel would finish the season with nine single digit fantasy games, which was one more than his rookie season.
He ended the season nineteen yards short of his rookie season, and scored one more rushing touchdown with seven. Michel’s 3.7 YPC ranked 18th out of 20 running backs with at least 200 rushing attempts. His 4.0 YPC also ranks second to last among backs with 400+ carries over the last two seasons. I get it, I’ve highlighted how bad Michel was last season. Here is the good news, he can only go up from here.
There are a few things I would like to see Michel improve on from last season. One of which is being more involved in the passing game. Michel will never be James White in regards to being active in the air game, but he can get better. In his first two seasons in the league, Michel has nineteen receptions for 144 yards and zero touchdowns. 70% of his offensive snaps are run plays, which is very predictable. Josh McDaniels, the Patriots OC, will need to switch it up or teams will simply stack the box against Michel. This will prevent him from getting any positive yardage. Another aspect of Michel’s game that I would like to see improve is his run power. If you are a Patriots fan, then you know what I am talking about. Michel’s run style was different last year, it wasn’t fearless. It was more on the side of running not to get injured. He needs to get a mean attitude and I feel his numbers will go up dramatically if he achieves that.
Like I said in the first paragraph, certain players will drop in this year's draft from either injury history or a poor performance from last season. In Michel’s case, it will be from the second option. His current ADP is 72, which is late in the sixth round. By that time, you should have two backs, two receivers, and possibly a QB. Michel could be used as a nice flex play, provided you have solid RB1 and 2.
As it stands today, Michel is the clear starter for the Patriots this season. The running back room is not crowded, as the Patriots didn’t take a single back in the draft. The only threat to Michel’s playing time is Damien Harris, who was drafted last year and played in only one game. Michel and Harris could play out as a nice one-two punch combo in the coming years. As for this season, expect Michel to have an improved year. With a revamped O-line, and an increased production in the pass game, Michel could very well be a week-to-week starter.