NFL Draft Blind Comparisons: Sony Michel (Fantasy Football)

by Mitchell Renz | @mitchellrenz365 | Featured Writer
Feb 27, 2018

It’s time to wake up NFL Draft and fantasy football community and quit sleeping on Georgia running back Sony Michel. The running back sleeper of the 2018 NFL Draft class for fantasy football is Michel. We slept on Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt in 2017 and they went on to have incredible seasons. Well, I say not again.

During his time at Georgia, Michel was overshadowed by teammate Nick Chubb. In their final season at Georgia, Chubb carried the ball 223 times compared to Michel’s 156. Michel and Chubb were a thunder and lighting combo and just like we see lightning before we hear thunder, expect to see Michel drafted first in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his final year, Michel ran for 1,227 yards (7.9 YPC) and 16 touchdowns. If you’re looking at the Bulldog backfield, Michel is the diamond in the “ruff.”

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Since rookie running backs have been taking the league by storm the past two seasons, I’ve been asked a lot on Twitter (@MitchellRenz365) “what’s a good NFL comparison for [insert player name]?” This is a great question considering how elite rookie running backs have been and the uncertainty of how college players will translate into the NFL. This is why I wanted to write NFL Draft blind comparison articles. To read my others click the links below:

To avoid the trolls of the internet when comparing players to current or past NFL players, I use blind comparisons. I’m an advocate of blind comparisons because it’s an effective method to ensure impartiality and avoid bias.

Below is a tweet from my personal account of three running backs. One is Michel, the other two are current NFL running backs.

Player B is Michel, as you can see in terms of build he is very similar to running back A and C. In terms of a player comparison, I think Michel is a mix of the two other players sharing similar strengths and weaknesses.

For strengths, Michel is a well-built running back with the body to be able to withstand a workload in the NFL despite not getting more than 16 carries in a single game in college. His acceleration is impressive and it’s a major reason why he breaks off big plays because once he gets going nobody is going to catch him. He can run inside zone and seeks gaps effectively. Perhaps his best trait coming out of college is his ability to pick up blitzes and protect the quarterback with stellar blocking.

For weaknesses, Michel lacks the agility to make guys miss in the open field. If the running lane he was expecting to be open isn’t, he has a tendency to lower his head and plow forward resulting in plays ending perhaps too early. He is a decent pass catcher, but he doesn’t catch the ball smoothly on a consistent basis.

Back to the question, “What’s a good NFL comparison for Sony Michel?” I think he is a mix of Player A and C. Player A shares the ability to get to 0-100 with the flip of a switch with excellent acceleration and Player C with his no-nonsense running style between the tackles. His overall on the field play is similar to Player A, but he shares similar weaknesses as Player C.

Player A is Alvin Kamara, and personally, I think Michel is a lesser version of Kamara, but they share similar traits. Kamara was overlooked in the NFL Draft and fantasy football as he went on to have a stellar season racking up 1,554 yards and 14 total touchdowns. Kamara is a better pass catcher than Michel, however, between the tackles, I think Michel has the advantage. Kamara was a team leader at Tennessee and Michel shares the leader gene. Kamara has better balance and is more agile on his feet than Michel, but Michel is a better blocker than Kamara coming out of college.

Player C is was also a rookie in 2017, Kareem Hunt. Another running back who was overlooked, once Hunt got his chance to shine he didn’t disappoint, leading the NFL in rushing his rookie season with 1,327 yards. Hunt has better vision and is a better runner between tackles than Michel, however, Michel is a superior athlete. Hunt is a quick learner and got up to speed with the NFL fast. However, once the NFL realized what Hunt and the Chiefs wanted to do on offense, he showed frustration and lowered his head running into the backs of his lineman. This trait reminds me of Michel because when things didn’t go according to plan he wasn’t the best at making his own plays.

So Kamara’s acceleration and play style + Hunt’s mental weaknesses and pass catching = Sony Michel. I’m no Sheldon Cooper and this isn’t me trying to refine physics theories, but the qualities of these two players morphed together into one is what I see in Michel.

Michel is a player to watch at the combine. He may not light up the combine, but this guy on a football field is special. How special? He was recorded running 22.5 mph this past season at Georgia. In comparison, only one player in the NFL ran over 22 mph in 2017. I’ll take a running back who showcases elite speed on the football field over the combine any day.

I’m a believer Michel has the skill set to be successful right away no matter what scheme the team that calls his name on draft day runs. Michel is a terrific running back who deserves to be in the conversation as the second-best running back in this year’s class and a top-three pick in dynasty fantasy football leagues. It’s time for the NFL and fantasy football community to throw this Bulldog a bone.

Mitchell Renz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mitchell, check out his archive and follow him @mitchellrenz365.

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