• Sony Michel

  • RB
  • , New England Patriots
  • 26
  • 215 lbs
  • 5' 11"
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Scouting report

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.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 11 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 11 at Philadephia Eagles
Sony Michel faced a difficult matchup against the Ravens in Week 9 and matched his lowest snap share of the season at 22%. New England passed on 74% of its offensive plays, the third-highest rate among all teams in Week 9, which was a result of some combination of offensive game-planning and Baltimore taking a quick and early lead. Michel saw just two targets along with his four rushing attempts and finished the week as the RB43, dropping his overall standing to RB26 through Week 10.

Michel returns from his Week 10 bye to a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles that's even less friendly than the Ravens were in Week 9. Philadelphia is allowing just 21.6 aFPA to running backs, 9th-lowest among all teams. Only one running back has rushed for over 65 yards against the Eagles in 2019, and that was Ezekiel Elliott in Week 7. Philadelphia has actually been middle-of-the-pack against receiving running backs, allowing the 14th-most receptions and 16th-most receiving yardage to the position, which stands to benefit James White and Rex Burkhead more than Michel. Additionally, this matchup screams for a pass-heavy game script by Josh McDaniels, as the Eagles 26th-ranked 38.5 aFPA to wide receivers stands in stark contrast to their running back aFPA. Starting Michel as anything more than an RB3 is a heavily touchdown-dependent plan that I'd look to avoid.

by Andrew Fleischer

NE RB Sony Michel - Week 9 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 9 at Baltimore Ravens
Sony Michel was presented with a high-scoring opportunity in Week 8 against a Browns defense allowing 26.4 aFPA to running backs, but managed only an RB33 finish. The RB21 through eight games, Michel continues to see heavy volume with 140 total attempts, sixth-most in the NFL. Michel has been one of the least-elusive running backs among all starters, and he continues to be a relative non-factor as a receiver.

The Patriots travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, and it's not a great spot for Michel. Baltimore has allowed 22.9 aFPA to running backs, ninth-fewest, while they been middle-of-the-road against recievers and quarterbacks, which suggests a pass-heavy approach by New England with more of a reliance on James White and Rex Burkhead. Volume is what makes Michel fantasy-viable and without 20 projected carries or more, Michel becomes more of a touchdown-dependent low-end RB2 for Week 9.

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