If you're willing to overlook the injury risk the 27-year-old Freeman carries, he's got the kind of potential that makes his top-40 price tag seem like a bargain. Freeman was a Fantasy hero in 2015 and 2016, but injuries hampered his 2017, forcing him out of 16 games. Freeman participated in offseason workouts and should be just fine for training camp. With Tevin Coleman gone, the only threats to his playing time are Ito Smith and rookie Qadree Ollison, neither of whom offer the same kind of versatility. Freeman's got a shot to be very good in the Falcons' souped-up offense.
Freeman is participating in OTAs, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports. Freeman -- who dealt with various injury issues last season -- couldn't quite make it back from injured reserve in December, but he at least seems to have returned to full strength before the start of Atlanta's offseason program. The team brings back all its Week 1 starters from last season at the skill positions, while longtime backfield mate Tevin Coleman is now with the 49ers. Dirk Koetter is replacing Steve Sarkisian as the team's offensive coordinator, hoping to establish a better rushing attack with the help of two first-round picks on the offensive line (Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary). While his recent track record with running games isn't encouraging, Koetter hasn't had much backfield talent to work with since Doug Martin had a big year for the Bucs in 2015. It could be more of the same if Freeman struggles with injuries, as the backup situation doesn't inspire much confidence, featuring Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill and Kenjon Barber. Freeman should stay busy whenever he's healthy.
Freeman will be "full go" for training camp in mid-July, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, especially since Freeman did not require offseason knee surgery, as the Falcons let valuable backup Tevin Coleman go to the 49ers during the offseason without so much of a whimper. Still it's encouraging to hear that Freeman -- who was limited to two games in 2018 thanks to knee, foot and groin injuries -- will be able to carry the load behind an offensive line that should be improved thanks to two 2019 first-round picks.
Freeman (groin) is the Falcons' unquestioned No. 1 running back following the free-agent departure of Tevin Coleman, Tim Weaver of USA Today reports. Freeman won't be able to replace Coleman's speed component, but as he returns from an injury-plagued season, the former is slated to retain a substantial share of the Falcons' backfield reps. Among Freeman's competition is 2018 fourth-round pick Ito Smith, who managed 467 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns as Coleman's complement as a rookie. Beyond Smith, Brian Hill and Kenjon Barner round out the depth chart. As long as he avoids the injury bug in 2019, Freeman may draw a large workload like he did from 2015 through 2017, when he averaged 283.7 touches for 1,452.3 yards from scrimmage and 11.7 touchdowns per campaign.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank mentioned Freeman (groin), Matt Ryan and Julio Jones as franchise cornerstones to lead a 2019 rebound, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Limited to two games this past season, Freeman seemed to be making progress late in the year and might've had a shot to play if the Falcons had reached the playoffs. Alas, they fell out of the hunt around Week 14/15, removing any chance for the running back to return from injured reserve after he had groin surgery in mid-October. With Tevin Coleman expected to find a new home in free agency, Freeman is locked in for the lead role under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who held the same position in Atlanta during Freeman's 2014 rookie campaign. Freeman will turn 27 in March and should be back to full strength for the start of the Falcons' offseason program in mid-April. He has four seasons remaining on a five-year, $41.25 million extension, though the structure of the deal could make him vulnerable next offseason if he disappoints in 2019.
Coach Dan Quinn confirmed Wednesday that Freeman (groin) wouldn't be activated from injured reserve ahead of either of the Falcons' final two games of 2018, Will McFadden of the team's official site reports. With the 5-9 Falcons officially eliminated from playoff contention, there wouldn't be much upside to bringing Freeman back from an extended absence after he required surgery in mid-October to address a core-muscle injury. Freeman, who had also been dealing with a foot injury prior to being shut down, will likely be back at full strength for OTAs and should have a clear path to reclaiming a leading role in 2019 with impending free agent Tevin Coleman unlikely to be retained. Coleman should at least dominate the backfield snaps for the Falcons' last two games after the team elected to place his top complement, rookie Ito Smith (knee), on IR earlier this week.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/20||Los Angeles Rams||14||17.26|
|10||11/10||@New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
|12||11/24||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||21.25|
|13||11/29||New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
|15||12/15||@San Francisco 49ers||20||19.00|
|17||12/29||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||21.25|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||146||671||6||32||267||1||133|