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What to do with James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead in Week 12 fantasy football

Although Rex Burkhead might feature on ocassion, the Patriots are splitting the receiving and rushing work mostly between James White and Sony Michel. We take a look at the Patriots backfield value entering Week 12.

James White of the New England Patriots smiles before the game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 17, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

The Patriots have plenty of options to use in their backfield, and they rank middle-of-pack in the passing/rushing split this season, throwing the ball 60.7% of the time. Tom Brady isn’t doing much, nor are their rushers, but it all has been enough to have New England with a 9-1 record through 11 weeks. How surprising. Before I keep going, I must say that I don’t consider Rex Burkhead too much of a factor in New England’s backfield. The roles are very well defined between James White (mostly receiving) and Sony Michel (mostly rushing) as to think of Burkhead as a solid weekly contributor (his usage, touches, and productivity are miles away from the other two’s).

So taking on James White first, he’s been one of the most stable players all season all in—fantasy or not—football. White scored between 11.9 and 13.8 fantasy points in his first seven games, and only in his last two did he get a little wild by scoring 16.4 (ceiling) and 9.6 (floor). With only two touchdowns on the season, White is producing fantasy value thanks to his rushing and mostly receiving. He’s a lock to end every week with at least four receptions, and he’s averaging 46.7 yards through the air.

Michel, on the other hand, is the one using his legs the most, but he’s having quite a disappointing season. Other than a three-game streak of getting 21-13-22 fantasy points, he’s failed to reach 15 points in any other match he’s played. This was supposed to be a year in which he built upon his good rookie season, but that hasn’t been the case. He had six rushing touchdowns in the first seven games of the year, but he hasn’t crossed the goal line in his last three averaging a measly 41.7 rushing yards on 35 attempts.

Fantasy Football Analysis, New England Patriots RBs James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead

The Cowboys have a below-average defense when it comes to stopping rushers. They rank 21st in points per game allowed to the position in the ten games they’ve played, and the 25.1 points they’re giving up pretty much align with the points that White (13.9) and Michel (10.4) combine for on average. In their last two games, the Cowboys have let both Minnesota and Detroit score a touchdown each and rack up to 237 and 114 yards from scrimmage, respectively.

New England enters the game as a 6.5-point favorite but can easily see a tight game all the way. That should give both Michel and White chances, and Dallas has been vulnerable on the ground and in the passing game (four or more receptions and 40-plus yards receiving given up in each of their last three games) against running backs. At the end of the day, I still think the Patriots will rely on their quarterback and favor the passing game once again. That, combined with Michel’s run of bad performances, should be enough to sit him. White, on the other hand, should benefit from the pass-laden strategy and score his usual 12 points with upside for more if he finds the end zone.

Start/Sit Recommendation

Start White (RB3/Flex).

Sit Michel.

Sit Burkhead.