Despite battling concussion and knee injuries in 2017, Devonta Freeman still rushed for 865 yards and seven touchdowns, while also adding 36 receptions for an additional 317 yards with one score. Those numbers were good for RB13 on the year, making him a high-end RB2. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was criticized for his lack of creativity last year but his running game was still productive. The Falcons are likely to take it slow with Freeman after he played with sprains to both his MCL and PCL but he should be ready for Week 1. Despite Tevin Coleman and perhaps rookie Ito Smith getting touches, Freeman remains Atlanta's No. 1 back.
Last season was the second year in a row Freeman took a step backward fantasy-wise. After finishing as the RB1 and the No. 2 overall fantasy player in 2015, Freeman dropped to RB6 for 2016 and then RB13 a year ago. Concussions and knee injuries limited him to 14 games as a whole but he also missed parts of other games as well. After finishing as the NFL's most explosive rusher in 2016, Freeman fell to 26th in 2017, so that was a problem as well. Finally, Sarkisian wasn't as creative or as aggressive with his passing-game playcalling as Kyle Shanahan was the year before and Freeman was one of the many Falcons players who suffered. Sarkisian also used Coleman more from a pass-catching standpoint, which limited Freeman's overall production.
2018 Bottom Line
Freeman enters the 2018 season as a borderline RB1. Ranked as our No. 13 RB, Freeman's ADP is in the middle of the second round, which is appropriate. Rookie Saquon Barkley, second-year back Dalvin Cook, and even new 49er Jerick McKinnon offer more upside in PPR leagues but Freeman's floor is high enough to make him a safe pick as an RB2. As long as he can stay relatively healthy, Freeman is a safe play given the number of touches he'll continue to receive as the Falcons' No. 1 back.