As many fantasy football owners are well aware, investing in a New England Patriots running back is a buyer-beware proposition. Because of the way the Patriots liberally rotate their running backs, and switch their offensive game plan on a weekly basis to attack an opponent's weakness, the production of their running backs can be especially volatile. Perhaps the most notable example came in Week 2 of the 2015 season when top power back LeGarrette Blount played just seven offensive snaps in a pass-happy plan against the Bills.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: 440 yards, 3 TDs; 65 receptions, 2.4 TDs
Over or under: I'm going over on the rushing yards and receptions because I'm projecting Lewis to make it through the season healthy, which is a risk in and of itself based on his history. I think he's clearly the team's most dynamic back and the club is taking a very cautious approach to make sure he'll be ready for the long haul of the season (he remains on the PUP list at this time and has yet to practice in camp). That could include limiting his playing time compared to last year's totals (he was on the field for 66 percent of the snaps before his first injury), but I don't see that cutting into his production in a big way.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: 859 yards, 6.1 TDs
Over or under: I'm going under based on what we saw in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. While Blount is currently the team's top power back, part of my feeling for going under is the belief that Blount still could face competition for snaps from someone who isn't currently on the roster (perhaps a trade acquisition or a waiver claim). As we saw with Jonas Gray's surprising emergence a few seasons back, the Patriots often are unpredictable at this spot.
Who else could see time: This is a position where the Patriots still could acquire a player from another team who might be a factor for them, as it might be the thinnest spot on the roster. Third-year player James White is the top backup to Lewis and has excelled as a pass-catcher, but he isn't likely to have a major fantasy impact.