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Saturday, September 17, 2016

FANTASY FOOTBALL CRISIS POINT: DEVONTA FREEMAN RB ATLANTA FALCONS

Sometimes you can spot trouble a mile away or at early in the summer before training camps even open.  Such was the case for yours truly when it came to evaluating the 2016 fantasy football prospects of Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.  In fact I had no reservations putting Freeman squarely into the BUST column both in the Draft Guide and all over the site leading up to Week 1.  There were a few key reasons for the this which I will rehash and which so far have been born out after one game.  Let's get right to it on this growing disturbing story for all Freeman owners. 

For starters, Freeman's late first round price tag was grossly inflated coming into the season.  On the surface though I can sort of understand why that happened as Freeman was a monster last September in taking over for the injured Tevin Coleman as the clear number 1 back for the Falcons.  Freeman was the talk of fantasy football in September and into October as he rushed for over 100 yards in four out of five games in that span and also caught a ton of passes to make him immediate PPR gold.  Alas the good times would soon end and as Freeman failed to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in his last EIGHT games of the year.  To make matters worse, Freeman finished the season with a poor 4.0 yards per carry average that doesn't cut it.  On the positive side, 73 receptions was big and in PPR his value for the 2016 skyrocketed.  Alas I took the opportunity to remind you in the summer about how poorly Freeman ran for most of the 2015 season and for the fact that a returning Coleman would be a big part of the running plans for the Falcons. 

In talking about Coleman, his presence was a big problem for Freeman in that the Atlanta front office and coaching staff drafted him and thus put their lot into his prospects.  So in essence, Coleman was going to be force fed into the offense no matter what.  And as we saw in Week 1, Coleman has skills as he outplayed Freeman in rushing for 22 yards on 8 carries while catching 5 balls for a wide receiver-like 95 additional yards.  Freeman on the other hand picked up just 20 yards on 11 carries and caught 4 passes for 20 yards.  Both guys are doing the PPR thing in the running and receiving game but the current plan is to continue splitting work between them 50/50.  That is a huge problem for Freeman owners as the first or second round price you paid for Freeman made it imperative he got a heavy dose of the work and that is not happening by any means.  In fact if Coleman continues to outplay Freeman, he may even dip under 50 percent of the work. 

So when you put it all together, my assessment of Freeman as a big risk for 2016 fantasy football was spot on, just like it was for Jamaal Charles.  Sometimes it is that easy. 

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