• Sony Michel

  • RB
  • , New England Patriots
  • 25
  • 215 lbs
  • 5' 11"
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Scouting report

by Spencer Babbitt

NE RB Sony Michel - 2020 Fantasy Football Outlook

Fantasy Upside
Sony Michel’s role is no mystery. He is a between-the-tackles power runner who provides almost nothing in the passing game. This role carries some value in New England. Michel should receive enough volume to be a viable fantasy starter in games where New England experiences a positive game script. Michel’s 247 carries last season was good for ninth among running backs and his 45 red-zone touches also cracked the top 10. The addition of Cam Newton is great for Michel’s fantasy prospects as it should bring greater offensive efficiency to the Patriots’ offense as a whole, meaning additional red zone and goal-line carries. Michel will have RB2 upside in games where the Patriots are favored or adopt a run-heavy game plan.

Fantasy Downside
Michel’s fantasy upside is limited by injury and game script concerns. Michel had offseason surgery for a fractured foot and only shed his walking boot earlier this month. Michel also missed time due to a knee issue in 2018. It is too early to tell whether Michel will be 100% for training camp, let alone Week 1. Michel also has significant game script concerns. He offers nothing in the passing game and only had a 38.2% snap share last season, meaning he comes off the field on every third down and even more frequently when New England is trailing. Michel will be a glaring hole in your lineup in any game the Patriots fall behind and favor James White on the field as their designated receiving back. Finally, Newton will almost certainly get goal line carries that would normally go to Michel now that he will be under center for the Patriots.

2020 Bottom Line
Michel is a situational fantasy play due to his lack of versatility. He should rack up enough carries, yards and touchdowns to be a viable flex play, but his floor is very low and fantasy drafters will almost surely be frustrated with him some weeks. Michel should be drafted as a RB3 that gets a small bump in standard leagues.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 17 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 17 vs Miami Dolphins
Sony Michel hasn't been terribly elusive through most of 2019, ranking 35th in PFF's elusive rating among 47 running backs with at least 100 attempts. Michel looked like a new man last week against the Bills, posting the 2nd-highest elusive rating among 27 running backs with at least 10 attempts. Fantasy owners who were hopeful that Michel's touchdown upside on a high-scoring offense would overcome his inefficiency must be disappointed with his two total fantasy RB1 weeks and his RB28 overall ranking through Week 16. Michel's touch rate has been above 70% for the last two games, while he's maintained a healthy 42% snap share, encouraging signs for him this week and in the playoffs.

The Patriots' Week 17 opponents the Miami Dolphins rank 24th in aFPA to running backs, and given Miami's overall defensive struggles, the Patriots should score fast and early. If the Patriots defense with its second-ranked aFPA to quarterbacks continues its season-long effectiveness, a lopsided score in New England's favor appears to be a likely outcome. That would bode well for Michel's fantasy output, making him a good bet for an RB2 finish, and his DFS pricing ($4,900 on Draftkings, $6,400 on FanDuel) make him an attractive & inexpensive option.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 16 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 16 vs Buffalo Bills
The Patriots had run the ball on over 50% of their offensive snaps in just one game this season before their Week 15 matchup with the Bengals, a game in which they handed the ball to a running back on 54% of their snaps. Sony Michel was the primary beneficiary of the run-heavy attack, and his touch rate of 74.1% was his second-highest of the year. That usage translated to an RB23 finish for the week, despite the fact that the Bengals' ninth-ranked aFPA to running backs is far better than their aFPA to quarterbacks (22nd) and wide receivers (20th).

Michel now goes up against a Bills defense that ranks sixth in quarterback aFPA, but 16th in aFPA to both running backs and wide receivers. The Bills have scored 17 total points in each of their last two games, and both were against excellent defenses. The Patriots defense presents an even greater challenge than the Ravens or Steelers, and New England held the Bills to 10 points in their first matchup. Attacking Buffalo's (relative) weakness would mean utilizing the running game, and a projected low-scoring matchup shouldn't force them to abandon that plan. Michel is low-end RB2 start this week.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 15 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 15 at Cincinnati Bengals
Sony Michel took a Week 14 opportunity against a Chiefs rushing defense that projected to be excellent and punted it into the stands. He finished as the RB71 for the week, though to be fair, it's hard to have fantasy relevance on five total carries and one target. Michel has played in under 20% of the offensive snaps in each of the past two games, and he's only ranked as RB1 for the week in two games in 2019.

Michel matches up with a Bengals defense that's 12th in aFPA against running backs, 27th in quarterback aFPA, and 21st in wide receiver aFPA, and these defensive strengths and weaknesses that don't bode well for Michel. The larger issue is that Michel simply hasn't been efficient, and ranks 26th in elusive rating among 27 running backs in with at least 130 carries (per PFF). Touch volume can overcome inefficiency, but since that's no longer a sure thing, Michel becomes a risky start even if your expectation is for high-upside RB3 numbers.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 14 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 14 vs Kansas City Chiefs
Sony Michel took a backseat to James White against the Texans in Week 13 and saw a season-low 17% snap share. After an opening drive in which Michel ran for 33 yards on five attempts, he saw just five more attempts for the remainder of the game. Fantasy owners who stuck with him should be rewarded, as he faces some soft run defenses over the next few weeks.

Kansas City travels to New England in Week 14 with a run defense that ranks 31st in aFPA to running backs. Given the work-in-progress nature of the Patriots receiving corps, New England is likely to rely on its running backs. If the Patriots defense can slow down the Chiefs' offense effectively, Michel should be in for a heavy workload. Even if Kansas City manages to overcome this defensive matchup, Michel should still be a significant part of the offensive attack and maintain his heavy red zone usage. Michel has an RB3 floor and an RB1 ceiling within his range of outcomes this week.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 13 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 13 at Houston Texans
Sony Michel turned a matchup with a strong Cowboys defense into the RB22 performance for Week 12, rushing for 85 yards on 20 attempts. Like a running back who doesn't get targeted very often, Michel still ranks just outside the top 12 in total touches at the position, and his touch rate of 58.1% is the highest among starting running backs. Preseason expectations for Michel as an inexpensive RB1 haven't been met, as he's returned low-end RB2 value through 11 games.

Michel draws a Week 13 matchup with the Texans that shouldn't give you a reason to stay away, as their aFPA to running backs ranks 19th out of 32 teams. Vegas projects the outcome as a close game with above-average scoring, favoring the Patriots by 3.5 points, which should equate to red-zone opportunities and a steady reliance on the running game throughout by the Patriots. Michel has had relatively poor touchdown production despite being among the top eight running backs in red zone attempts, but his continued high snap share keeps him in the RB2 conversation for this week and moving forward.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 12 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 12 vs Dallas Cowboys
Sony Michel had his second-worst fantasy week of the season in Week 11 against the Eagles, finishing as the RB45 with just 44 yards from scrimmage. Michel finished as the RB43 in Week 9 before New England's Week 10 bye, and he's now the RB27 overall through Week 11. Michel continues to see heavy red zone usage, ranking eighth among all running backs with 29 red zone attempts.

While it would be understandable to have soured on Michel as a fantasy asset over his past few performances, now is not the time to let him go. Dallas has allowed a 14th-highest 25.4 aFPA to running backs, while they've limited opposing wide receivers to a seventh-lowest 29.6 aFPA. While they do lead the NFL in yards per game, the Patriots defense has allowed the fewest yards per game, making an offensive explosion somewhat unlikely. If the game remains somewhat close, New England could lean more heavily on the run game. Michel also should benefit from the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn, whose presence should improve the run-blocking effectiveness of the Patriots' offensive line. Michel is a start ideally as a low-end RB2, but his red-zone usage gives him a decent ceiling.

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