Mac Jones - no Rushing Upside?

Looking at his college stats, Mac Jones doesn’t seem to use his legs at all. So are we indeed to expect little to no rushing upside from him?

I wouldn’t, not when they have another Alabama guy who is really good at running the ball.

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Expect to see more running from the RB’s in this offense, along with more play-action. That said, Jones displays more accuracy than most QB’s. Keep an eye on the Pats this year. They will be competitive.

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I have to admit, I did not expect Jones to take over that early in the season, so I had my entire Pats projection based on Cam. Adjusted them now:
Mac Jones = QB29
Damien Harris = RB28
Jonnu Smith = TE8
Hunter Henry = TE18
Jakobi Meyers = WR46
Nelson Agholor = WR66

Can’t really get myself to push them much higher. I don’t think Jones, with all his talent, will be able to throw for more than 4,000 yards in his first season. If he does, then obviously all pass catchers are ranked too low, though.


So I guess you are projecting Harris to only play 8 games?


So I guess you’re not expecting Damien Harris to be a top 20 RB?


Suppose that’s the slang version of “I politely disagree”? Sorry for asking, English isn’t my first language.

Harris’ rank did not change with the QB switch. Yes, he will get more carries now, including a few goal line carries. But the Patriots offense will look more like under Brady in 2019 than under Cam last year.

Passing: 3,961 yds / 25 TDs
Rushing: 1,703 yds / 17 TDs

Passing: 2,890 yds / 12 TDs
Rushing: 2,346 yds / 20 TDs

With Mac Jones, the offense will look more like 2019, and less like 2020. With Cam out of the way, Harris’ slice of the pie got bigger, but the overall pie got smaller. Final result is the same.

Harris so far hasn’t been involved in the passing game at all. In 2020, he saw a whooping 0.5 catches per game.

Unless that changes, he’d need 1,400+ yards on the ground, or 10+ TD to finish top 20. Don’t see that. I have him down for some 1,100 yards and 6 TDs. Adds up to RB28 in half-PPR.

For more, he’ll need more targets and/or more goal line carries. I certainly wouldn’t mind, got him on my roster. But I don’t see it.

As for Jonnu, if I dial him back by just 10 FFP for the season, he’d be TE14, which is where I had him before adjusting the passing volume for the Patriots. TE7 or TE17 hardly makes a big difference in terms of FFP, so if you wanna rank him in the double digits, fine.

Axually it did, and not by a little.

Patriots carries within the 5 yard line last year:
Cam Newton - 22
Rex Burkhead - 4
Damien Harris - 3
Sony Michel - 2
James White - 1

So those will go up by about 20.

And while you’re seeing last year as an aberration, you should be seeing it as the new trend. This is not your father’s Patriots any more. The Patriots passed for 1500 fewer yards last season than they averaged in the previous decade under Brady, and rushed for 500 yards more than their average for the previous decade. This is no longer a pass-oriented team. They are a ground-based team, and they will win with defense and a ball-control offense. That’s the kind of QB that Mac Jones is, at least at this point in his career, a game manager. He fed Najee Harris enough to make him the all-time leading rusher at Alabama, so it’s not like Jones is allergic to handing off.

Think back to the Patriots’ last 1000 yard rusher–another big bruising back who rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 TDs in 2016, named LeGarrette Blount. That would have been good for RB9 last season in PPR scoring, despite having just 7 receptions for 38 yards and 0 TDs. So your yardage projection for Harris looks about right (although I’m not sure you factored in an extra game)–but you’re not expecting the Patriots to reach the red zone very often, it appears.

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I see what you did there.

I bumped Harris up in RZ carries and TDs. I also bumped up the overall number of yards and TDs for the Patriots. I did shift the run-pass ratio more towards the passing side, though. Not back to Brady levels, I agree, those times are gone. As I said: the 2021 Patriots will look more like the 2019 ones, not “exactly like”.

The key question to me is indeed: will Damien Harris get involved in the passing game? If yes, then I agree, I ranked him too low, and Jonnu Smith too high. But the Patriots staff seems rather dedicated to involve the TEs a lot more, otherwise they wouldn’t have invested so heavily into that position.

That Jones isn’t allergic to handing the ball off is a given, and it’s not like I projected Harris with pedestrian numbers in terms of rushing production. But that alone won’t make him a high-end fantasy RB in PPR formats.

Don’t underestimate Smith. he’s a YAC beast with high red zone potential The Pats paid him a lot of money in free agency, and Belichick doesn’t pay for TE’s to just block (see Rob Gronkowski). Smith could easily lead this team in catches and receiving TD’s, with an outside shot at receiving yards too.

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That was my thinking, too. Meyers and Smith are the top pass receivers in my projection. And if the Pats will indeed involve the RBs in the passing game, the question is who will be the pass catching back? Harris, which would then push him towards a true bell cow role? Or Rhamondre Stevenson, who caught a few passes in college last year?

Rob Gronkowski played for the Patriots when they were a passing team. Jonnu Smith plays for the Patriots while they are a running team. Different TEs for different roles. It’s probly just a coincidence that they brought in the TE who blocked for the league’s rushing champion last year.

I see Stevenson initially assuming a goal-line/short yardage role, with Harris taking most of the rest.

Exactly what has changed? They added a young QB who is very Brady-like in his pocket style. They may start running a bit more at the beginning of the season, but don’t expect that to last. And how many free agent TE’s get signed to big contracts so they can become run-blockers?

I don’t often literally LOL, but I literally LOLed.

Well, for starters, the greatest passer that the game has ever seen is no longer with the team, and a rookie will be starting instead.

So like nothing much…

Thanks for agreeing.

Actually, looking back a few years, the Patriots have always been pretty good at running the ball.

Looking at pass attempts / passing yards / passing TDs vs. rushes / rushing yards / rushing TDs, their team rankings in the NFL were:

2018: 11 / 8 / 11 (passing) vs. 3 / 5 / 4 (rushing)
2019: 5 / 8 / 16 (passing) vs. 9 / 18 / 10 (rushing)
2020: 31 / 30 / 31 (passing) vs. 3 / 4 / 6 (rushing)

So 2020 was not really a new trend, but rather a repeat of the 2018 rushing performance, combined with Cam failing horribly at passing the ball.

Their passing game will improve. Not necessarily to 2019 levels, but at least back towards the middle of the NFL ranking. A little better, if Jones pulls off a Herbert’esque rookie season; a little worse, if he shows more of a “great talent, but still a rookie QB” type of performance. Which, if we are honest, we cannot rule out entirely. Also since his receiving corps isn’t exactly overwhelming. And this comes from someone who has a huge football crush on Jakobi Meyers ever since I saw him during the 2019 preseason and immediately drafted him in every dynasty league.

But their o-line doesn’t look worse than it did in 2020. Their backfield should be better, with the addition of Stevenson and with moving on from Michel. I do not doubt that Harris is a fantastic RB, traded for him last year for a reason.

So yeah, upon review, I have to agree that I ranked the Patriots rushing offense too low. Their passing game will be a lot better than in 2020, but that does not necessarily mean their rushing game will regress a lot. I moved them back up the ladder, and now have Harris as RB20.

But without more involvement in the passing game, I really can’t see a better fantasy ranking for him. Let’s not forget James White is also still there, and he handled the majority of backfield catches last year. He will lose a few targets, but he will lose them Stevenson, not Harris.

This is pretty reasonable, and about what I expect as well. His floor can’t be much below RB25, barring injury, but I think his upside comes from blowing up the goalline potential, a la Blount’s 18 rushing TDs in 2016–not any increased involvement in the passing game.

Blount had 7 receptions for 38 yards that season, and he was the RB9 in PPR scoring.

Newton, Burkhead and Michel vacated 28 carries inside the 5 in 2020… Just sayin’…

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True. But they also only had 12 passing TDs last year. Newton’s inside-the-5 carries won’t fall to another RB, they’ll mostly be converted into passing TDs.

Anyway - you were completely right when you said earlier:

Indeed, I didn’t. And indeed, that was incorrect. I’m much more confident with my Patriots projections now. Appreciate the input!