Fantasy owners have a tendency to latch onto the flashy player. The player who can jump out of the gym, run faster than everyone on the field or has the strength of an ox.
While those players can sometimes provide good value and help you win your leagues, there’s something to be said about the NFL player that’s defined as “solid”. A player who you know what you’re going to get every single time he steps on the field, but isn’t going to provide any plays that necessarily end up on the SportsCenter highlight reel for 5 consecutive weeks…
Damien Harris is one of those players. A reliable, well-rounded running back who will do whatever you need from him.
NFL Scouting Combine Overview
|Height/Weight||40 Yard Dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump|
|5'10"/216 Pounds||4.57 Seconds||16 Reps||37 Inches||121 Inches|
These numbers indicate what shows up on tape. A solid athlete, but not someone who boasts insane top-end speed, Hulk-like strength, etc.
Harris’ game is predicated upon power and good vision in between the tackles. He excels in pass protection and has underrated hands coming out of the backfield.
Damien Harris showed he could be a physical runner like Bo Scarbrough. Ran through this dude on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/8ujJUTlDEU
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) September 11, 2017
Harris also demonstrates great contact balance and shiftiness. When he sees his lane, he’s going to turn on the jets and explode through the opening in the defense. All these traits have proven to be successful at the next level and they certainly proved to be successful during his time at Alabama.
|Year||Rushing Yards||Yard Per Carry Average||Rushing TD's||Receptions/Receiving Yards||Receiving TD's|
Harris put up great numbers during his time at Alabama, while often sharing the backfield with other future NFL stars. While he was never given the opportunity to handle a 250+ carry workload in college, there’s nothing to point to the fact that he can’t do that if called upon. The backfield was simply too crowded to receive the touches his talent may have called for, but he delivered when the ball was put in his hands.
Above all though, Harris is a fierce competitor who will lay it all out on the field for his team. He’ll do whatever’s asked of him and he has an edge that may help him get onto the field quicker than any other rookie…he’s amazing in pass protection.
This is why you should like Alabama RB Damien Harris…… pic.twitter.com/POkSz9M4RS
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) November 14, 2017
Coaches are hesitant to put running backs on the field unless they can block in pass protection. Otherwise, the opposing defenses know what you’re going to do before the ball is even snapped or they know what weakness to attack. Harris doesn’t present that liability and NFL coaches are going to put players like that on the field.
This is the first Rookie Profile that has been written up post NFL Draft. If you’re reading this, you know that Damien Harris was selected with the #87 overall pick to the New England Patriots.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 27, 2019
Harris now slides into a backfield led by Sony Michel and James White, but one that also has Rex Burkhead to complicate matters for fantasy football. It’s been said before, but Bill Belichick does not care about your fantasy team…he’s going to put the players out on the field that fit best for certain matchups and he loves running backs who are versatile weapons.
As stated before in this profile, Harris is just that. He’s a well-rounded running back who fits exactly what the Patriots want. His stock takes a huge hit in this landing spot for fantasy though due to the limited touches he’s most likely going to see. Michel is going to command the majority of the work on the ground with Harris coming in and giving Michel some rest. White will continue to be a pass catching specialist, while Burkhead will most likely be relegated to special teams if he sticks on the roster.
Continue to monitor this backfield though because of Michel’s injury history. If Michel goes down again this season, Harris could be the biggest beneficiary and contribute in a big way for fantasy. However, unless that situation takes place you’re most likely going to be disappointed with the amount of touches that Harris will be receiving.
Dynasty Rookie Draft: For your rookie drafts, it’s going to be tough to justify spending higher than a late 2nd rounder on Harris. I am personally unlikely to grab him until the late 3rd round due to usage and the way that Patriots utilize their running backs.