Sony Michel turned 25 years old in February. He was born in Orlando, Florida, after his parents immigrated from Haiti. Michel went to American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida, and started for their football team in the eighth grade. In his senior year he rushed for 1,833 yards and 24 touchdowns. Over the three years, Michel accumulated 4,758 yards and 63 touchdowns.
In addition to football, he was also a star in running track. His brother Marken is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. Michel was considered a five-star recruit coming out of high school, ranked as the 3rd best running back in the country, and he committed to the University of Georgia.
As a true freshman, he played in eight games but managed to miss several secondary to fracturing his shoulder blade. He earned more playing time in his sophomore season after Nick Chubb was injured. In his junior year, he rushed 152 times for 840 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
In his senior season, the Bulldogs turned to true freshman Jake Fromm at quarterback and relied heavily on both Chubb and Michel. Over 14 games, Michel rushed 156 times for 1,227 yards and an impressive 7.9 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns.
He also caught nine passes for 96 yards and another touchdown. Michel was named the Rose Bowl offensive MVP after defeating Oklahoma in Georgia’s first-ever College Football Playoff game. On only 11 carries, Michael ran for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns. Interestingly while at Georgia Chubb and Michel combined for 8,259 combined career rushing yards, surpassing Eric Dickerson and Craig James’ FBS record.
Measuring 5’ 10 ?” and weighing 214 pounds, running a 4.5 40-yard dash. The New England Patriots chose Michel at the end of the first round as the third running back selected off the board. In his rookie season, Michel suffered a knee injury in training camp, causing him to miss the entire preseason as well as the season opener.
As a rookie in 2018, Sony Michel had several impressive performances when he wasn’t injured. Rushing 209 times for 931 yards and 6 touchdowns. He went over 100 yards four times, not including a 98-yard performance. Michel did not catch many passes (7).
He made up for the lack of goal-line plunges with six during the Patriots Super Bowl run. Michel also had two 100 yard contests and a 94-yard gainer against the Rams. His future looked bright.
Unfortunately, Michel’s 2019 season was disastrous. Outside of playing all 16 contests, he didn’t manage going over the century mark in one of them. A 96-yard game against Buffalo was the best he could do. It wasn’t that New England didn’t get Michel involved, as he had 247 carries, T-9th in the NFL.
Michel only averaged just 3.69 (40th) yards per carry. Again, Michel was not serviceable in the passing game. He only had 20 targets and caught 12 balls. Michel did rebound in the scoring department. He had 7 touchdowns, which put him 14th among all running backs. Overall most viewed him as a fantasy bust.
Let’s talk about Michel‘s injury history, which is quite extensive. In his sophomore year of high school, he tore his ACL. Then in his rookie season at Georgia, he fractured his shoulder blade, causing him to miss four games, and then an ankle injury cost him another.
In the off-season of his junior season, Michel fractured his left forearm in an ATV accident. In his senior year at Georgia, he suffered another minor ankle injury, as well as a left knee sprain, but this did not cost him any games.Michel must have tweaked his knee ramping up for training camp in his rookie season as he had to have fluid drained from his knee. There is a chance he also suffered a meniscal tear at this time, although this is not confirmed. The injury cost him the season opener. Less than two months later, Michel again injured his left knee, and he missed two games, likely suffering a knee sprain, but the details are limited.
Helping to address his chronic knee issues, Michel had a knee scope entering the 2019 season. During this procedure, the surgeon often goes in and trims out any loose meniscus that may be causing issues and recurrent swelling.
It is unclear if the knee bothered him throughout the season, but he did not miss any time in the 2019 season. One of the main reasons why he likely struggled was the fact that the Patriots usually depend on a fullback to open the gap. However, both of the fullbacks on the roster suffered season-ending injuries during the season.
Recent rumblings in early June 2020 stated that Michel was recovering from a May foot surgery. It sounds like the procedure was more maintenance to relieve some discomfort. There are several possibilities of what he had done, including bunion surgery, turf toe, neuroma extraction, among several other options.
There are some rumors that Michel will be more involved in the passing game, but that wouldn’t be an overwhelming change from someone who has only caught 19 passes on 31 targets in 22 games. Michel might get more carries. Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay, and it will be difficult for either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer to be taken seriously by defensive coordinators. Stacking the box for a plodding running back (Michel) doesn’t seem exciting for production.
The good news is that Michel may receive more volume. He has seen 37% of the snaps and 54% of the carries in his 29 regular-season games. The amount of work has allowed him to hit two top-20 fantasy weeks in 2019. However, with James White, Rex Burkhead, and Damien Harris in the stable, getting that volume will be difficult.
The offensive line will be better but could lead to more struggles from Michel. Jeff Thuney did make the All-Pro second team. With Shaq Mason at the right guard, the tandem uses a gap-power blocking unit. All five starters do return. Therefore, cohesion will be there.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Michel has a 55.4% chance of injury heading into 2020. They project him to miss just over two games.
My injury score for Michel is 6 out of 10, on the moderate side. He struggles with recurrent left knee injuries. Remember that this is the same knee he tore the ACL in 2011 in high school, and the same knee he struggled with in college, as well as in his rookie NFL season.
It is important to note that once someone suffers a torn ACL, often, the amount of damage to the local cartilage and meniscus can be permanent. Some athletes get lucky and can return without issues, like Adrian Peterson. However, other athletes struggle with similar or different knee injuries, like new meniscal tears in terms of Derrius Guice, recurrent knee swelling like Michel’s or early-onset arthritis-like Todd Gurley. Overall this is a concerning trend for Michel.
He could turn the corner in 2020, but the odds are not in his favor. With the return of a healthy fullback (Dan Vitale), it is unclear how much his left knee is hindering him. With Damien Harris lurking, who has a similar pedigree but also struggled.
The Patriots are one of the most successful rushing teams annually, and with Brady now in Tampa and Stidham taking over, I don’t expect that to change. While I expect Michel to be the primary running back, he is not alone on the roster. He still has to battle Harris, James White, and Rex Burkhead.
Currently, Michel is the RB34 in PPR leagues, if Sony can manage to play all 16 games again, get his average yards per run over 4.4, and fall into the endzone 8-10 times he will be a great value at that price.
As the lead running back in an annual playoff contender who traditionally scores a lot of points, you could do worse than an RB2/flex option in Non-PPR leagues.
Injury Risk: Moderate, 6/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Sep 30, 2020||Leg Quad Strain||Michel was sidelined for 6 games due to a quadriceps injury|
|May 15, 2020||Pedal Foot||Michel underwent foot surgery to alleviate discomfort in his foot|
|Oct 21, 2018||Knee Strain Grade 1||Michel missed 2 games with a left knee injury.|
|Aug 4, 2018||Knee Strain Grade 1||Michel had a procedure in early August to have fluid drained from his knee. He returned on August 27 but missed the season opener.|
|Dec 2, 2017||Knee Strain Grade 1||Michel injured his left knee in the SEC championship but was able to play in the National Semifinal a month later.|
|Sep 9, 2017||Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Michel missed 1 game with an ankle injury.|
|Jul 4, 2016||Arm Forearm Fracture||Michel fractured his left forearm in an ATV accident.|
|Nov 8, 2014||Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Michel missed 1 game with an ankle injury.|
|Sep 27, 2014||Shoulder Scapula Fracture||Michel missed 4 games with a broken shoulder blade.|
|Aug 30, 2011||Knee ACL Tear Grade 3||Michel suffered a torn ACL as a high school sophomore in 2011.|