In August, we will ask our staff a single question on a variety of topics ranging from a huge news event to a tough fantasy decision or player evaluation.
Here's the question we asked our staff.
And here's the quick answer for each player's average running back rankings:
A clear preference for Stevenson as a borderline starter, while Elliott checks in as a backup.
Check out the full answers to see where these backs should be drafted in your league.
Jason Wood: Rhamondre Stevenson slots in at RB9 in 0.5 PPR scoring, and Elliott moves up to RB37. Stevenson remains a rock-solid second-round option, and if the Elliott signing drops his ADP to the third round, he becomes a priority target. Elliott should come off the board in the 8th or 9th round in a 12-team league; he's part of the tier with other high-volume No. 2s, including Jamaal Williams, Antonio Gibson, and A.J. Dillon. When I wrote the Stevenson Player Spotlight, I addressed the possibility of New England adding a veteran to the stable. At the time, I opined that Dalvin Cook would be a big red flag, while the likes of Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson would be non-factors. Elliott fits somewhere in the middle. He's being paid like a backup (1-year, $4mm deal plus incentives), but it's hard to imagine the Patriots won't use him liberally, particularly in short yardage. Stevenson's upside is now capped, but given his massive target volume as a receiver, his floor is intact.
Ben Cummins: I barely downgraded Stevenson. He's now my RB7. Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott has now moved up to my RB56. Rhamondre Stevenson is one of the most talented dual-threat RBs in the NFL. The depth chart was significantly lacking behind Stevenson so it's no surprise to see the Patriots bring in a veteran like Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott will handle a decent workload, which will allow Stevenson to remain fresh and keep making plays, especially in the passing game. Elliott's best chance at fantasy relevancy is to handle a goal line role, which is now something Stevenson drafters must weigh. Elliott doesn't have much left in the tank but he is still a capable converter in short yardage and goal to go situations.
Jeff Haseley: I agree that the Patriots weren't happy with how the running back depth chart was looking behind Stevenson. I don't see that much of a drop in his ranking other than a few spots. I have him RB9 just behind Josh Jacobs and ahead of Joe Mixon. He may vacate a few touchdowns but he makes up for it with an abundance of action as a receiver. I would recommend selecting Stevenson in the mid-third round or later. I have Ezekiel Elliott ranked RB35, which is in the D'Andre Swift, Antonio Gibson, and Dalvin Cook range. I would be comfortable selecting Elliott after the aforementioned players are off the board.
Phil Alexander: I dropped Stevenson from RB9 to RB11. Elliott goes from practically undraftable to around RB50. That would put Stevenson in Round 3 and Elliott in Round 12 or 13. We have to shave rushing touchdowns off Stevenson's projection, but he still finished at RB11 in half-PPR leagues last year despite scoring only five times on the ground. Elliott should earn enough carries, especially near the goal line, to exceed my ranking. But I don't see much of a weekly ceiling in a low-yield offense where Stevenson will share the rushing load and dominate targets. If you're looking at running backs where Elliott will now get drafted, younger players like Tank Bigsby, Roschon Johnson, and Jaylen Warren offer league-flipping potential Elliott no longer can.
Ryan Weisse: Stevenson comes in as my RB10, with Elliott at RB48. The move doesn't change much for Stevenson, but I did adjust my projections to give two of his rushing touchdowns to Elliott. That bumped him down from a top-5 running back for me. He is still worth a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Elliott is interesting because Damien Harris was the RB48 in just 13 games for New England last year. His pace would have made him a top-40 back in 17 games. Once you hit the double-digit rounds and you're adding your 4th or 5th running back, Elliott has a safer floor than most of the guys he's being drafted around but a severe lack of upside.
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