by Andrew Brennan
8/28/2016
Fantasy Life App Username: Andrew9
Email: apb4424@gmail.com
Andrew Brennan is a guest writer for us at The County Fantasy Sports.  Please do not hesitate to contact him with questions, comments, or opportunities you may have.

Andrew's 180 on Devonta Freeman

I was on the record of being way down on Freeman earlier this year in previous articles, but recently my thoughts have drastically changed, as now I love Freemans value in the middle of the 2nd round. So I thought I should go through my thoughts on him and I will take it point by point. I will go through three major reasons that I had when I thought he would be a bust, and talk about them, then briefly talk about a few interesting points for him in my opinion….Here we go.

                                                                                    Arguments Against

          1. "Oh my god, Tevin Coleman is going to take so many carries away!!!"-  Settle down, past me, okay? While this is probably true to some extent, it is not the end of the world upon examination. Freeman got a very substantial 264 carries, along with a whopping 73 receptions despite essentially missing weeks 11 and 12 and playing second fiddle to Coleman the first two weeks of the year (22 caries between the two weeks). So that means that Freeman's carries could regress a good amount due to Coleman’s increased involvement, and Freeman can still provide plenty of value. So, the Falcons ran the ball with their RB’s 382 times, Freeman receiving nearly 70%, Coleman taking about 22% and Terron Ward getting the other 8%. The average primary RB in the NFL receives about 63% of the carries, so if we bring Freemans rushing attempts down 10% (a little lower than average), he still would have racked up 229 carries, which would rank in the top 10 in the NFL. If we decrease his total carries by 7% (Which would be the league average) it would result in him losing about 19 total carries. If Freeman loses 15% of his carries which is a massive number, he would still have 210 carries, which would be 12th in the league last season. Atlanta clearly likes to run the ball a lot and Atlanta has been on the record of saying they love Freeman's work ethic and that he is always coming in early and staying late. Freeman was an outstanding player last year and Tevin Coleman, while talented, gave no reason last year that he deserves to take a majority of the RB carries. Freeman also can make up for a slight lack of carries, with his elite receiving skills. So basically, we can accept that he will lose some Carries to Coleman, and he will still get enough carries to be plenty productive.

            2.  There is no way Freeman can be as good as he was last year, he HAS TO regress-  Devonta Freeman was the #1 scoring fantasy back last season in both PPR and Standard leagues. Freeman now will certainly be drafted behind Gurley, Lamar Miller, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, AP probably Jamaal Charles and quite possibly guys like Eddie Lacy and Mark Ingram. So that's the RB 7-8 in drafts, so it's not like he HAS to be as good as he was last season. He can regress down 5-6 RB slots, and still be a nice buy. As I have said in previous articles, when evaluating good or bad draft values, you have to look at both what the players production/regression will be, and at what cost it takes to acquire the player.  So it is really easy to just say that Freeman will regress from where he was last season, and end the discussion, but at what point will that regression come down to? If he regresses from the #1 back, he can still easily finish as the RB5, people seem to forget when talking about regression, that last season he was the #1 freakin back in fantasy, and is never even going in the first round of drafts. Regression is already built in to the draft price, kids!!!

           3.  Freeman tailed off big time last year, and will pick up where he left off- This one could look like a cause for concern for sure. Devonta got a concussion week 11 after just 3 carries, and missed all of week 12. Weeks 13 and 14 he received 26 carries combined gaining only 87 yards. He did catch 10 balls in week 13, but definitely did struggle in those two weeks for sure. However, the bright side of that is that in the last 3 games of the season he received 25, 22 and 25 carries, and scoring a TD in each one of those three games, directly after struggling for a few games and with a fully healthy Tevin Coleman ready to go. Thats a big vote of confidence from the coaching staff, signalling that they trust Freeman. Even after struggling the coaches still went back to him. You have to remember that this is the same coaching staff from last year, the same RB’s in the backfield as last year and the same QB as last year, so the confidence placed in Freeman at the end of the year has to carry a decent amount of significance into the upcoming year.

                                                                Some Quick Interesting Points to Consider

  • Think back to the last time the top fantasy RB in both formats, that had his coaches, QB, and line all be the same as the previous year, not be a first round pick.

  • Atlanta has a short passing tree with not much behind Julio (Sanu and Hardy are nothing special) so Freeman could repeat his 73 catch season, which raises his floor significantly in PPR formats.

  • Even players people see as elite RB’s will most likely lose carries to a backup RB, Minnesota has said that they want to use Mckinnon in the pass game and like Asiata more than Peterson in Pass Protection, Arizona has left the door open to Chris Johnson taking 10 or so carries from DJ and plenty of other backs have there competiton. Admittedly, Coleman is more equipped to take over a full time role than these others, but I see zero reasons for Coleman to dethrone Freeman from the lead dog role, Atlanta has been outspoken about loving Freeman's work ethic and leadership.

  • Atlanta will most likely be bad team in 2016, but why does everyone claim that Coleman is definitely the back of the future, Coleman is 23 and Freeman is only 24.

  • If Freeman’s 4 week burst came at the end of the season, is this guy the #1 RB in fantasy now?

  • I would take Freeman over Adrian Peterson in a PPR league, just for the record.