Why Patriots' Damien Harris is worth drafting in your fantasy football league

Nick Goss
NBC Sports Boston

Running back is the most important position in fantasy football, and having enough depth at the position is critical to winning your league.

One way to build depth is selecting a rookie running back in the later rounds of your draft. A name to keep an eye on and strongly consider drafting is Damien Harris of the New England Patriots.

Harris was a third-round pick of the Patriots in April and played well in Saturday's preseason win over the Tennessee Titans. The Alabama product ran for 80 yards on just 14 carries, including this powerful in the first quarter.

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Harris doesn't have blazing speed, but he's certainly got plenty of toughness. He averaged 3.16 yards after contact per rushing attempt for the Crimson Tide last season, per Pro Football Focus. He ran for 876 yards and nine touchdowns at Alabama in 2018 despite splitting carries with Josh Jacobs, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the first round.

The Patriots have a crowded backfield and they do a great job keeping opponents guessing when it comes to which running back will be the focus of the offense each week. What we do know is Sony Michel is the lead rusher. The Georgia product had a fantastic first season in New England and set a rookie record with six rushing touchdowns in the playoffs. He did, however, miss three games due to injury, and he battled injuries in college as well. Michel started training camp on the PUP list. 

Harris, who stayed healthy at Alabama, figures to be the next man up if Michel is unable to stay healthy. James White is the top receiving option in the Patriots backfield, but Harris should get quite a few carries in games where Michel is unavailable (and even when Michel does play). Some of those carries could come at the goal line, where his 5-foot-11, 213-pound frame is not easy to tackle. Harris also was a capable receiver in college and tallied 48 receptions over his final three seasons at Alabama. 

Another angle to factor in is the Patriots' offensive line, which is one of the best units in the league. New England transformed into a power running team in the playoffs and it worked out beautifully, culminating in another Super Bowl championship. The Patriots also ranked fifth in rushing yards per game during the 2018 regular season. 

You shouldn't bank on Harris being a consistent fantasy scorer this season, but he's definitely worth taking a chance on. It's hard to imagine Bill Belichick using a valuable third-round draft pick on Harris if the Patriots coach didn't believe the Alabama star could contribute in a meaningful way as a rookie. 

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Why Patriots' Damien Harris is worth drafting in your fantasy football league originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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