Assessing the impact of Damien Harris' reported hamstring injury

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The New England Patriots entered the season with a wealth of running back depth. It's safe to say that's changed.

Damien Harris is "likely" to miss multiple games due to a hamstring injury he suffered in Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday.

With Ty Montgomery on injured reserve, rookie Pierre Strong Jr. inactive and J.J. Taylor and Kevin Harris on the practice squad, Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson were the Patriots' only active running backs Sunday. Stevenson took on a huge workload following Harris' injury, setting career highs in carries (24) and rushing yards (161).

On-field impact of Harris' injury

Head coach Bill Belichick said he doesn't expect Montgomery to practice this week, so the Patriots' only in-house options for Week 6 are two rookies (Strong and Harris) and Taylor, who averaged just 1.9 yards per carry in five games for New England last season.

Considering Strong has played just three offensive snaps this year (in Week 2 at Pittsburgh), New England should pursue the free-agent market for a backup to Stevenson, at least for Week 6.

Curran: Belichick's Patriots starting to prove they're no bottom-feeder

If the team is confident that Harris won't miss extended time, that might be the extent of its moves. But if they're concerned about Harris' long-term health, they could explore the running back trade market ahead of the Nov. 1 NFL trade deadline. Our Phil Perry noted Monday that Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey is a name at least worth considering.

Fantasy impact of Harris' injury

Fantasy managers have to be concerned after watching Stevenson deliver the best game of his career with Harris sidelined. Harris had been a reliable RB2 prior to his injury, with rushing touchdowns  in three consecutive games in New England's run-heavy attack.

If Harris only misses two or three weeks, it's worth keeping him on your roster in the injured reserve spot, as he and Stevenson have proved they can both produce in New England's backfield. That said, Harris' stock certainly takes a hit with this injury.

If Stevenson has another big game next week against the Cleveland Browns' porous rushing attack, or if the Patriots add a prominent running back in the coming weeks, those will be signs that Harris may be more of a RB3/4 than a steady starter.

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