Last season, Devonta Freeman followed up his dominant 2015 campaign by finishing sixth among RBs with 1079 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 54 receptions for 462 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He has cemented his place as an elite RB in the NFL and is being drafted as one with a current ADP of 11 overall and RB6. Not many are questioning the loss of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. The Falcons offense that made a run to the Super Bowl last season had little turnover. The Falcons have brought in new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, and the team is taking a “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality.
But the question remains, what would happen if Devonta Freeman was to suffer a season ending injury?
Tevin Coleman, WR – Tevin Coleman’s touches have increased in each of his first two seasons from 89 in 2015 to 149 touches in 2016. While that number is a fraction of Devonta Freeman’s 281 touches in 2016, there would be a significant opportunity if he should be called upon to carry the load. Coleman has only played one game in which Freeman did not dress, 2015 Week 12 vs. the Minnesota Vikings. In that game Coleman had 18 rushes for 110 yards. If Freeman is lost for the season, Coleman’s status will vault up to a mid RB1. The Falcons offense will continue to produce, and Coleman will be given an opportunity to shine.
Julio Jones, WR- Julio Jones has battled through injuries but continues to post high-end results. In 14 games last season, Jones finished with 83 receptions for 1409 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jones will see a small uptick in touchdowns if Devonta Freeman is lost for the season.
Mohamed Sanu WR and Taylor Gabriel, WR – Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel would see a significant bump in value if Julio Jones were to suffer a significant injury. However, there value does not drastically change with the projected loss of Devonta Freeman.
Matt Ryan, QB – Matt Ryan had a career year in 2016 passing for 4944 yards and 38 touchdowns. He finished as the third-best quarterback in fantasy. Congrats if you drafted him last season. Ryan has nowhere to go but down this season. However, if Devonta Freeman is lost for the season, the offense will not drastically change as Ryan will continue to lean on Julio Jones and Tevin Coleman.
Brian Hill, RB and Terron Ward, RB – Brian Hill was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft out of the University of Wyoming. Over three collegiate Mountain West seasons, Hill amassed 4,287 rushing yards with 403 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns. The bulk of those scores (22) came during the 2016 season. Hill projects to be a developmental prospect but his timeframe will be advanced if Devonta Freeman suffers a serious injury. Terron Ward has been on the Falcons roster for the past couple of seasons as a reserve. Over 18 games, he has a combined 70 touches for 330 yards and 1 touchdown. Both Hill and Ward should be on your radar as waiver wire adds if Freeman is out for the season.