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Fantasy Football: Time to handcuff Devonta Freeman

If you have Devonta Freeman on your fantasy football team you probably couldn’t be happier as you likely are at the top or at least near the top of your fantasy league’s standings, thanks to the early season work of the second-year Atlanta Falcons running back. Freeman has accumulated 100 offensive yards or more in five straight games and has scored 10 touchdowns so far this season on his way to being the top fantasy scorer through Week 7 of NFL action.

Although he is the season’s biggest fantasy surprise, at this point in the season you likely have become very reliant on his production and because of that it is time to protect your investment in the Falcons’ ball carrier. It is time to pick up Atlanta’s No. 2 runner in Tevin Coleman, who is owned in only 62% of all NFL.com fantasy leagues, to serve as your handcuff for Freeman.

There is no guarantee that Freeman will break down this season, but in the violent sport of football it certainly is a realistic possibility as injuries are very common. Especially when you take a look at the running back’s current workload. Consider the fact that in 40 college games at Florida State University, Freeman never had more than 23 rushing attempts in a game, yet this season he already has three such workloads in just seven contests.

While his heavy volume certainly is paying off for you in the short time with high fantasy point totals on a weekly basis, the enormous amount of touches certainly should have you concerned that he will wear down as the season progresses with the possibility that he also could totally break down and be forced to sit out a few games.

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If he does have to miss time because of an injury, you will need to be protected, as losing Freeman will leave a gaping hole in your fantasy lineup where he is averaging almost 22 fantasy points per game this season. If you fail to pick up Coleman while he is currently available, you will be left scrambling for a solid replacement for the running back in what is already a very thin free-agent market for ball carriers.

So why is Tevin Coleman the answer? While the Atlanta offensive coaches are riding the hot hand, remember that the only reason that Freeman got the opportunity to shine in the first place was that Coleman got injured during the Falcons’ second game this season, as he was the team’s starter out of the preseason. So the Atlanta coaching staff certainly saw something in the rookie running back this summer that impressed them.

Which is not surprising considering that he did rush for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns in his junior season at Indiana University. And that coaches’ believe is somewhat validated by the fact that in limited duty this season, Coleman is averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

But the biggest reason to believe that Coleman would be able to step up and help fill the fantasy football shoes of an injured Devonta Freeman is the play of the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line. According to footballoutsiders.com, the big fellas up front for Atlanta have been among the best in the business in run blocking this season.

According to their offensive line rankings, Atlanta owns the third-highest Adjusted Line Yards but are 17th-ranked in Opened Field Yards, meaning that the Falcons’ running attack is more reliant on the offensive line to make the run game work rather than the running back itself. So the idea here is that the successful Atlanta rushing offense should continue to thrive regardless of who the running back is.

So if Coleman would need to enter the starting lineup because of a Freeman injury, the run game itself would not flounder, making Coleman the perfect insurance plan for Devonta Freeman and your fantasy football team. So whether it is through a trade or a waiver claim, now is the time, especially if you have Devonta Freeman on your roster, to add Tevin Coleman to your fantasy football roster.


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