The Atlanta Falcons have struggled to run the football in recent years. They have not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Michael Turner in 2011 and Steven Jackson led the Falcons with just 1,250 rushing yards over the last two seasons. Jackson was released and sophomore back Devonta Freeman will be fighting rookie Tevin Coleman for touches in 2015.
Coleman was a 3rd round selection out of Indiana University and rushed for over 2,000 yards last season. He broke off 25 runs of 40+ yards, 8 of them went for 60+! He averaged more than 7 yards per carry for two seasons and totaled 27 touchdowns.
Freeman rushed for just 23 more yards than he gained via the pass, totaling 473 yards. He scored just one rushing and one receiving TD. He only saw 65 rushing attempts and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He caught 30 of his 35 targets out of the backfield, which PPR owners should be excited about.
It is safe to assume a 50/50 split to start the season and their play will determine who gets more carries on a per game basis. Freeman will most likely be in on passing downs, but that breakaway speed Coleman owns is what makes him the more popular player for fantasy owners.
The offensive line was really banged up last season, so right away we should see better run blocking from legit NFL linemen. New HC Dan Quinn and OC Kyle Shanahan should also make the run game better, implementing the zone blocking scheme. Shanahan got the most out of a Cleveland Browns backfield that featured Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and Ben Tate, totaling 16 rushing TDs. He also led Alfred Morris to nearly 2,900 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns with the Washington Redskins from 2012-13.
Average Draft Position
Tevin Coleman is being drafted nearly two round ahead of Devonta Freeman according to Fantasy Football Calculator. If you go back even further to May, Freeman was a 6th round pick, but once the Falcons drafted Coleman, things changed. Yahoo, ESPN and CBS owners are all looking at the 25th RB to select Coleman, with Freeman being drafted as the 40th RB in ESPN and CBS leagues. Yahoo owners are drafting 50 other RBs before selecting Freeman in just 17% of drafts. Yahoo owners are grabbing Coleman with the 85th overall pick, while ESPN and CBS owners are using the 60th pick to grab the Falcons RB, ahead of Giovani Bernard and Joseph Randle, according to FantasyPros.