With Tevin Coleman gone, the opportunity for a significant role in Atlanta alone makes Ito Smith a worthy target in the eighth round of Fantasy drafts. He'll have to improve on his 3.5 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per catch marks from his rookie season, but that shouldn't be too much to ask with Atlanta's revamped offensive line and a year under his belt. Smith will begin the season apprenticing behind Devonta Freeman, but given the latter's injury struggles, a significant role could be there for Smith at some point. There's league-winning potential here if everything breaks right.
The Falcons used a fifth-round pick (No. 152 overall) on Qadree Ollison to join Smith and Devonta Freeman in the backfield, Will McFadden of the team's official website reports. There was little question Atlanta would add backfield depth after losing Tevin Coleman to the 49ers in March. There's still a nice opportunity for Smith to earn the No. 2 job in a prolific offense, though he didn't make the best case for himself last season when he averaged 3.5 yards on 90 carries and 5.6 yards on 27 receptions. The Falcons did make aggressive moves to upgrade their mediocre offensive line during the offseason, and Smith should have a large advantage over the 228-pound Ollison when it comes to pass-catching skill. Of course, the Falcons likely will deploy a committee if Freeman struggles with injuries for a third straight year.
Head coach Dan Quinn stopped short of naming Smith as Tevin Coleman's replacement, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "He certainly has shown that he's capable of [replacing Coleman], but if that (Coleman leaving in free agency) takes place, there will definitely be other guys that we put into the mix to compete with (Smith)," Quinn said Wednesday at the NFL Combine. This is not what dynasty owners wanted to hear, but there are definitely reasons Quinn feels that way. For starters, Smith topped four yards per carry in just four of 14 appearances as a rookie last season and didn't log a single carry of 20-plus yards over 90 attempts. He wasn't much of a receiving threat, either, averaging just 4.7 yards per target and 5.6 yards per catch. While it's possible Smith could make significant improvement after his first full offseason, his rookie season fell far short of proving he has the pop to replace Tevin Coleman as the lightning to Devonta Freeman's thunder.
Smith (knee) is almost back to 100 percent health and doesn't expect to have any limitations during the offseason, Jason Butt of The Athletic reports. Smith had arthroscopic surgery Dec. 19 to address a meniscus issue in his left knee and missed the final two weeks of his rookie campaign. He finished the year with 90 carries for 315 yards (3.5 average) and four touchdowns, adding 27 catches for 152 yards on 32 targets (4.8 YPT). While the inefficient stat line doesn't exactly beg for more work, Smith currently projects as Atlanta's No. 2 running back behind Devonta Freeman (groin), who has struggled with injuries the past two years. Tevin Coleman is expected to sign elsewhere during the offseason, but it won't come as much of a surprise if the Falcons add a cheaper veteran or a mid-round pick to fill out their backfield.
Smith (knee) underwent an arthroscopic procedure Wednesday to address meniscus damage, Jason Butt of The Athletic reports. Coach Dan Quinn confirmed Thursday that Smith's surgery went according to plan and added that the 23-year-old should be ready to go for the start of the Falcons' offseason program. Though he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry over 14 appearances in his rookie campaign, Smith showed a nose for the end zone (four touchdowns) and some pass-catching upside (27 receptions on 32 targets for 152 yards). The Falcons will return Devonta Freeman (groin) from injury in 2019 to presumably reclaim the lead role, but Smith should be cemented as the top change-of-pace option with Atlanta not expected to retain soon-to-be-free-agent Tevin Coleman.
Smith is slated for surgery to repair meniscus damage in his left knee, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. As a result, the Falcons will place Smith on injured reserve, per Will McFadden of the team's official site. Smith dealt with neck and knee injuries in preparation for Sunday's eventual 40-14 win against the Cardinals, aggravating the latter enough that it'll end his season. Fortunately, the diagnosis backed up coach Dan Quinn's assertion that Smith doesn't have an ACL tear, according to Jason Butt of The Athletic. Smith will join Devonta Freeman (groin) on IR, leaving primary backfield duties to Tevin Coleman for the final two games of the season. Beyond Coleman, 2017 fifth-round pick Brian Hill is poised to earn some reps in his stead.
|* 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||90||315||4||27||152||0||70|