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Don’t Let Devonta Freeman Ruin Your Fantasy Season

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As a self-professed degenerate and increasingly impulsive gambler with several relatively high stakes fantasy leagues set to draft in the next two weeks, I’ve been researching like a 12-year-old discovering Pornhub. I’ve read projection after projection, enough mock drafts to quote Matthew Berry like the Bible and witnessed so many supposed “experts” making asses out of themselves I can’t help but wonder if ESPN fills their writing positions with Make-A-Wish candidates.

The most grotesque, nastiest, cockblocking Scrooge of all the horrendous predictions has got to be the vertically inept ball carrier in Atlanta: Devonta Freeman. Freeman, who is considered a mid-first to early second round pick by most prognosticators, is coming off an admittedly solid season in which the former early-round disappointment cemented himself as a respectable NFL player.

But respectable does not mean first round. How short can our memories be? Freeman’s rookie season was an unmitigated disaster, during which the highly touted running back of the future spent more time on the sidelines than the cheerleaders. Freeman appeared slow and fell after first contact to the tune of barely three yards per carry between the tackles, a performance making only Trent Richardson proud.

Yes, last season he was good (Editor’s note: He was the top fantasy scoring RB in the league last year), but the kid isn’t even the most talented runner on his own team. Tevin Coleman, a second-year top 50 overall pick out of Indiana, possesses the elite size and speed that makes NFL scouts harder than a Kardashian courtside at an NBA game. Coleman largely underwhelmed in 2015, battling injuries, a largely inconsistent line and the worst offensive season in recent history for the Falcons; all while attempting to adjust to the speed of the NFL game. It’s not like the fucking depths of the Big 10 is a miniature NFL factory like the SEC is for those playing for Alabama.

Now, fully healthy and with the addition of perhaps the best center in the league, Alex Mack, the Falcons are primed for a bounceback season, and, at the very least, a timeshare in the backfield. There is no way Freeman can keep the dynamic three-down talent of Coleman off the field for long. While Freeman does possess value in his own right, I’d bet on Coleman as the more valuable young back in Atlanta by mid-season.

I understand the compulsion to reach early on running backs; a strong RB1 and RB2 combo is like heroin to some owners. But don’t. At this same point in the draft, you should be able to select receivers such as Dez Bryant, AJ Green, and Jordy Nelson, all far better values and much more “sure things” than Freeman.

And if you just HAVE to reach on a running back, I have not found a single fantasy engine that has Jamaal Charles with a higher average draft position than Freeman. If you take one thing from this or any of my sports columns, do not take Freeman before Charles unless you’re a masochist or hate money. So in other words, if you’re a communist, go for it, you fuck.

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