Damien Harris Fantasy Outlook & Injury Update 2022 (Watch Out for New England's Split Backfield)
Damien Harris showed flashes of greatness in 2020 when he rushed for 691 yards across 10 games. The New England running back put it all together in 2021, scoring 15 touchdowns and racking up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage to finish as the No. 14 RB in PPR-scoring fantasy football leagues.
With that being the case, fantasy managers are still worried about Harris failing to find the same level of success in 2022. His average draft position (ADP) has him going as the 27th running back off the board and as an early sixth-round selection.
Damien Harris Fantasy Football Outlook
There's a clear and obvious reason why Harris is not getting the same level of respect he was toward the end of his last campaign. Head coach Bill Belichick has shown over the years that he likes to switch things up in the backfield rather than relying on a workhorse rusher. That is a scary thought considering Rhamondre Stevenson is on the roster. The 2021 fourth-round pick racked up 729 yards from scrimmage as a rookie despite playing in only 34% of the offensive snaps across 12 games.
Keep in mind Harris wasn't exactly a workhorse to begin with, anyways. His snap count checked in at 42% in 2021 and his production was built upon red zone touches. Harris saw 36 rush attempts inside the 15-yard line and it resulted in 12 touchdowns. That number is likely going to drop this time around due to the fact that Stevenson logged 5 touchdowns on 16 rush attempts from inside the 15-yard line. Both players present a ground-and-pound stye of rushing that can keep defenses on their toes.
In the six games Harris and Stevenson played together in 2021, it was the latter that led in expected fantasy points per game (9.3 vs. 8.9). Harris' lack of impact in the passing attack greatly limits his ceiling as well. That is veteran James White's department, as showcased by Harris' underwhelming stat line through the air last year (18 receptions, 132 yards). While he's playing on the final year of his current contract, Harris is going to have a hard time outperforming his 2021 production.
Damien Harris Injury Update
It wasn't even mentioned that Harris missed two games during the regular season. The 25-year-old was on the sideline in Week 10 due to a head injury and was not active in Week 15 due to a hamstring issue. Back in 2020, Harris missed a total of six games because of lingering finger and ankle injuries.
The good news is that Harris is seeing no lasting effects from his past injuries in training camp this summer. He hasn't taken on all of the first-team snaps, though. Stevenson has been jumping in from time to time, which makes the competition between those two one to keep an eye on moving forward.
Damien Harris Projections
Projections from the NFL odds on FanDuel Sportsbook do expect Harris to replicate his success from last year. He's 10th to lead the NFL in rushing yards (+2000), which is exactly where he finished the 2021 season at with 929 yards on the ground. He's also 11th to lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns (+2500). That is where he thrived most in 2021, tying with James Conner for second place by reaching the end zone 15 times. When taking Harris' averages over the last two seasons into account (14.5 touches per game, 5.0-yard average), a 1,000-yard from scrimmage season seems to be the floor if Harris can stay healthy for all 17 games.
Is Damien Harris a Good Fantasy Football Pick?
When it comes down to it, is Harris someone to target in the middle rounds? Yes, but his downside greatly outweighs his upside here. He's the No. 27 running back in The Duel's PPR fantasy football rankings, and is a suitable target for managers prioritizing WR depth over RB depth.
It's important to note that a split backfield would not mean Harris is going to be a bust this fall. It simply means that managers drafting him should not expect a near RB1 finish again. Reaching for Stevenson in the later rounds to pair with Harris is the best move.
If you've drafted Harris this year, or you're a Patriots fan, make sure to check out the best New England Patriots fantasy football team names for your squad.
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Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.