Running backs aren’t sought after as much as they once were. Whenever one asks for a new contract in the eight-figure a year range, most of the media laughs and says that running backs aren’t worth that. Recent holdouts by Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Gordon didn’t net them the contracts that they were looking for even by their new teams. Of course, there are running backs around the league who have been paid those eight-figure contracts who haven’t lived up to those contracts due to conflicts with the coaching staff or injuries. Devonta Freeman falls into that category.
Following two consecutive seasons in 2015 and 2016 where he posted over 1,000 yards and totaled 11 touchdowns in each season, Freeman has missed 18 games in the last three years including 14 in 2018. Last year, he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry as the offensive line for Atlanta struggled behind two rookies on the right side. He was hampered by injuries once again only really had three good games against Indianapolis in week three, Arizona in week six, and Carolina in week 14. He didn’t record a 100-yard outing last year.
Freeman was released after the season to free up some cap space and hasn’t found a home yet. He has been linked to the Buccaneers, Eagles, and Seahawks recently. Seattle signed Carlos Hyde after the draft while Tampa Bay signed LeSean McCoy earlier this week. While Philadelphia has been listed as interested, that isn’t the greatest fit for fantasy purposes as Miles Sanders is set to break out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three teams that could certainly use Freeman’s help.
The Jaguars are in a complete rebuild though they still have some special players. Leonard Fournette is not in the team’s plans and they have tried trading him. If Fournette gets traded or even cut before the beginning of the regular season, that leaves Jacksonville with Chris Thompson, Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, and James Robinson as their stable of backs. Thompson has missed 17 games the last two years but was brought in to reunite with Jay Gruden who was his head coach in Washington. If Freeman is added, it gives Gardner Minshew a safety valve out of the backfield. The only issue is that the offensive line in Jacksonville isn’t great and the team is expected to be chasing points very often this season.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are relying on a hot hand approach behind Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and John Kelly. The trio of Brown, Henderson, and Kelly have a combined 266 attempts in their careers while Freeman has 951. He would be a great fit in the outside zone scheme that the Rams as it’s similar to the system he had run during his time in Atlanta. Since Todd Gurley has had injury problems of his own after his insane seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Rams have been looking for another do-it-all back. Much like with Jacksonville, the Rams’ offensive line is a concern and given all the young backs on the roster, Freeman’s volume will be limited.
New England Patriots
Any veteran player has to be linked to New England somehow. Weirdly enough, this fit makes a ton of sense. No matter who is at quarterback, the Patriots are expected to be a run-heavy team this season. Brandon Bolden has opted out for this season and Sony Michel has a long list of injuries, opening the door for Freeman to step in as the early-down back. The only thing that will hurt Freeman’s fantasy value in New England is James White‘s locked in role as the third-down back. However, Freeman is a great fit for the Patriots as he has a similar playing style to Michel but more upside.
With Freeman being 28, his career could potentially be at a crossroads. Despite those worries though, he is serious about playing football this year as he has signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus in an attempt to sign somewhere before the NFL season kicks off. Freeman could potentially play a key role for a team attempting to make a title run and hopefully, that fit works out for fantasy players as well.
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