Royce Freeman will be the No. 3 running back in Denver this season if he remains with the Broncos, and he's not worth drafting in most leagues. Freeman was bumped down the depth chart in Denver when the Broncos added Melvin Gordon to go with Phillip Lindsay. There's a chance the Broncos could move on from Freeman, and hopefully he could earn a better role with a new team. But if he stays as the No. 3 running back behind Gordon and Lindsay, his touches will be limited, barring an injury. Freeman could end up as a waiver-wire addition during the season, but he should be ignored in most formats on Draft Day.
Freeman may need to fend off competition for the Broncos' No. 3 running back job, Ryan O'Halloran of The Denver Post reports. A third-round pick two years ago, Freeman has been thoroughly unimpressive to this point in his pro career, averaging 3.9 yards on 262 carries and 5.8 yards on 57 receptions. The Broncos gave a vote of no confidence to Freeman when they added Melvin Gordon to a backfield that already had Phillip Lindsay, potentially leaving the Oregon product to duke it out with Khalfani Muhammad and undrafted rookie LeVante Bellamy for the third spot on the depth chart. The team kept three running backs on its 53-man roster last season, with No. 3 man Devontae Booker playing 26 snaps on offense and 195 snaps on special teams.
The acquisition of Melvin Gordon leaves Freeman on the outside looking in at Denver's 1-2 punch of Gordon and Phillip Lindsay, Sean Keeler of The Denver Post reports. There were whispers that Denver was looking for an upgrade over Freeman in free agency, but the investment in Gordon is even more than expected. Freeman hasn't lived up to his billing as a big, savvy bell-cow back, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry in two seasons. His uber-efficient 2018 season aside, Gordon has averaged just 3.80 yards per carry during his career, but he's a more dynamic receiver and has at least shown the ability to be a big-time runner in spurts. Gordon's contract leaves little hope for Freeman to win back the RB2 role in camp, and it wouldn't be a total shock to see Freeman traded if Denver adds another back in the draft.
Freeman finished the 2019 campaign with 496 yards and three touchdowns on 132 carries and 43 catches on 50 targets for 256 yards and a touchdown. Freeman's 2019 output was similar to that of his rookie season. He averaged 47.0 yards per game as compared to 42.4 as a rookie and 4.3 yards per touch in 2019 as compared to 4.2 in 2018. What changed was how he was gaining yards. Freeman averaged 2.7 catches per game in 2019, up from 1.0 as a rookie. His 43 receptions placed him behind only Courtland Sutton for the team lead. He tallied four or more catches seven times during the season, though five of those were with Joe Flacco under center. Freeman doesn't look much like a pass-catching back, but given the fact that receiving is one of the weaker aspects of Phillip Lindsay's game, it's a role Freeman slid into, as he made some clutch plays in the passing game during the season. With veteran Devontae Booker likely headed out of town, it'll be interesting to see who emerges as RB3 in Denver. If it isn't a shifty scatback type, Freeman could expand on his role as a pass catcher in 2020.
Freeman ran for 28 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and caught both of his targets for nine receiving yards during Sunday's 27-17 win against the Lions. The record-setting back out of Oregon has eclipsed 35 rushing yards just once since Week 5, but Sunday he broke a skid of six consecutive games without a rushing TD. Freeman was much more involved over the first half of the year in comparison to his current role, as he racked up 11 carries and 3.3 receptions per game between Weeks 1 and 8. Since Week 9, however, the 23-year-old Freeman has been afforded just 9.8 offensive touches per game while failing to exceed 14 receiving yards in any outing. He'll continue to serve as a secondary option to Phillip Lindsay in Denver's regular-season finale against Oakland's top-15 rush defense.
Freeman ran for 12 yards on five carries and added 14 yards on four catches during Sunday's 23-3 loss in Kansas City. Freeman, and the Denver ground game more generally, were extremely limited during Sunday's loss. Head coach Vic Fangio told reporters Monday that the poor production was the result of poor blocking, some missed opportunities by the backs, and the Broncos digging themselves into an early hole. It was more of the same for Freeman, who has been held under 30 yards in four of his last six contests. He scored just once during that span. He's a hard back on which to rely, but his receiving ability should be on full display Sunday against Detroit's 31st-ranked pass defense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||10.63|
|4||10/02||@New York Jets||9||14.50|
|5||10/11||@New England Patriots||2||11.94|
|7||10/25||Kansas City Chiefs||23||20.37|
|10||11/15||@Las Vegas Raiders||15||17.38|
|11||11/22||Los Angeles Chargers||22||18.88|
|12||11/29||New Orleans Saints||4||13.24|
|13||12/07||@Kansas City Chiefs||23||20.37|
|16||12/27||@Los Angeles Chargers||22||18.88|
|17||01/03||Las Vegas Raiders||15||17.38|
|3 Year Avg||131||508||4||28||164||0||90|