Need Fantasy Football lineup advice? Talk to CBS Sports on your Google Assistant to get insights on the best sleepers and to help decide between players. Just start with, "Hey Google, talk to CBS Sports."
All NFL teams must deal with injuries but it's hard to remember a team hit as hard as the Atlanta Falcons have been the first half of this season. Their problems grew worse Tuesday when they placed Devonta Freeman on Injured Reserve so he can have groin surgery. While it is possible Freeman could return for the last few weeks of the season, his Fantasy season is essentially over. Let's take a look at what this means in Fantasy.
The best place to start is what the Falcons have done so far in the four games Freeman has been out. Tevin Coleman has been the lead back, but Atlanta has stuck with the committee approach. Coleman has averaged 13.7 carries and three targets per game. His counterpart, Ito Smith has averaged 7.3 carries and 2.5 targets. For what it's worth, in Week 6 Coleman saw his lowest snap total (38) and Smith saw his highest (31). In other words, this looks a lot like what it did with Freeman and Coleman, except both running backs are below 4 yards per carry.
Smith has rushed for a touchdown each of the past three weeks, but Coleman has more snaps in the red zone and inside the 10, so that may just be noise. I wouldn't say one is particularly more likely to score than the other, even with what we've seen from Smith as of late.
The biggest difference for this team is the state of the defense. The Falcons have been a much more balanced offense the past two seasons, but with half of their defense hurt, they've leaned heavily on Matt Ryan. They have passed on 60 percent of their offensive plays this year, and the prior two years that number was just 55 percent. Most of the important injuries are long-term issues, so we shouldn't expect that to change. Because of this, Ryan will remain a top-five quarterback most weeks, but this isn't great for the backs.
I would expect a near split that slightly favors Coleman. He'll be a low-end No. 2 running back or a high-end flex. Smith should become a popular waiver add this week, but more of a low-end flex on a week-to-week basis. He would benefit if Coleman suffered an injury, so he has more upside than his weekly projection will suggest. if we see more evidence Smith is the red zone back, he'll gain additional value.
The bottom line is this is a true committee approach on a team with a bad defense. The Falcons also haven't run the ball particularly well when they've tried. You're probably starting Coleman through the byes, and you should add Smith if you're desperate for running backs, but don't go crazy.
If you're looking for Devonta Freeman replacements, Jamey Eisenberg has them in .
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking QB could win you Week 7? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 5 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.