Former teammate, Tevin Coleman, went to San Francisco in the offseason, which should increase Freeman’s workload. With the departure of Coleman, Ito Smith is now the second running back on the depth chart. In February 2019, Head Coach Dan Quinn said he expects to see a “significant increase” for Smith. However, the odds of him overtaking Freeman on the depth chart are slim. Smith played in 14 games last season, failed to rush for more than 60 yards in a single game, scored only four touchdowns and had only 27 receptions. The Falcons brought in former Patriot and Panther, Kenjon Barner, and spent a fifth-round draft pick on running back, Qadree Ollison. However, their backup roles have yet to be determined.
Speaking of the 2019 draft, the Falcons used both of their first-round picks on offensive linemen. They selected Chris Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick and Kaleb McGary with the 31st pick. Our offensive line expert, Justin Edwards, projects the offensive line to take a step forward this season and ranked them as the 15th best offensive line in the NFL.
The sky was the limit for Freeman after making the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016. However, bad injury luck reared its ugly head over the next two seasons. In 2017, Freeman suffered multiple concussions and sprained two right knee ligaments, MCL and PCL, at the end of the season. The poor luck continued into 2018 when Freeman missed three games after suffering a right knee contusion in Week 1 against the Eagles. Freeman returned in Week 5 but suffered a bone bruise to his foot and an inguinal groin sports hernia. He elected to undergo surgery and missed the rest of the season. 2018 was a year for Freeman to forget. He only played in two games and finished with a total of 14 rushing attempts for 68 yards and five receptions for 23 yards. Freeman hopes to put these injuries behind him but it is worth noting that the Falcons will face the NFL’s second-toughest schedule for running backs, according to 4for4's schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed.
2019 Bottom Line
Fantasy owners are rightfully cautious of Freeman because of his lengthy injury history. However, he does present with some upside and value at his ADP if you can stomach the injury risk. Running behind an improved line makes Freeman a great bounce-back candidate but he will have to stay healthy.