Damien Harris has frustrated fantasy football coaches in recent weeks with injuries and illnesses limiting his playing time. Heading into the New England Patriots’ Thanksgiving game against the Minnesota Vikings, can fantasy managers trust Harris to bounce back this week?
Damien Harris Fantasy Outlook for Week 12
It was a roller coaster for harris and their fantasy owners in recent weeks. He started the first five games of the season, seeing double-digit touches in the first four games before going down with an injury in Week 5.
Harris subsequently missed Week 6 before returning on a limited basis on Monday Night Football in Week 7. He returned to his normal role in Week 8 before missing Week 9 with illness.
After the bye, the idea was that Harris would go straight back to his normal wear, but that was not the case. Harris played just 24% of the offensive snaps, carrying the ball eight times for 65 yards. He added two receptions from both of his targets for 28 yards. Despite reduced usage, he finished with 93 total yards and two receptions for 10.3 fantasy points on PPR media.
This is what makes Harris such a difficult player to judge on a weekly basis. In the first four weeks, he averaged 38% or more of offensive snaps, scoring double-digit fantasy points on three of those four. All three required Harris to find the end zone, despite averaging 14.7 rushing attempts and two targets per game.
Throughout the season, Rhamondre Stevenson continues to establish himself as the leader in New England’s backfield. He has played over 60% of the offensive snaps in every game since Week 2. Also, even in the games Harris was playing in, Stevenson averaged 12.3 rushing attempts per game and 4.5 targets per game.
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Even with Harris seemingly back to full health last week, Stevenson played 78% of the offensive snaps. He carried the ball 15 times and added six goals. Stevenson outscored Harris nearly three to one and had twice as many touches as the fourth-year running back.
Harris’ role this week is extremely uncertain. The disparity in bunting from Stevenson to Harris may have been driven by circumstance, as Stevenson tends to be a more frequent choice at third and long. Also, the pairing tends to rotate by advance, so if the Patriots have some lengthy drives with Harris in the game, the pairing could end up almost splitting time.
This week’s matchup for the Patriots is intriguing. Last week, the Cowboys’ RBs wreaked havoc on the Vikings’ defense, totaling 55.6 fantasy points between them. While Harris and Stevenson don’t have the combined pedigree and dynamism we see in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, they are two punches capable of causing trouble for the Vikings.
Overall this season, the Vikings defense has allowed the ninth-highest fantasy point to opposing RBs this season (21.3). However, in the last five games, they have allowed 10 or fewer fantasy points in three of them. The defense has struggled a bit more in the past two weeks, but it’s certainly not a sure thing that the Patriots’ backs will have a great day.
Should fantasy managers start Harris in week 12?
There is so much uncertainty about Harris this week in terms of usage. Last week was the first time he’d scored double-digit fantasy points in half PPR without finding the end zone. Therein lies part of the problem: New England’s defense hasn’t been terribly impressive in recent weeks.
In Week 11, the offense chipped in with three points, though Nick Folk missed two field goal attempts. In Week 9, they scored just one touchdown, relying on four field goals (three of which were 40+ yards) and one interception return for a touchdown to help provide value. This offense has scored just four touchdowns in the last four games and just two in the last 14 quarters of action.
With the offense inconsistently scoring points and no guarantees of what their use will look like, fantasy managers should have some trepidation. In a week without teams bye, it’s hard to see Harris as an ideal 12-team starting consideration. He ranks as RB39 in week 12 of Tommy Garrett. RB Fantasy Rankingwhich puts him firmly in the 14-team range, but outside of serious 12-team consideration.
Harris is an intriguing choice in underdog fantasy The best baseball leagues this week. We’ve seen the Patriots use both running backs around the goal line, but when he was healthy, Harris had the lead. Therefore, he may actually possess the higher ceiling of the two if the Patriots can get multiple goal-line opportunities in this game.