Can we just talk about Devonta Freeman for a bit?
The second-year back has done nothing but impress me the last few weeks. I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen a running back put up back-to-back three touchdown performances (in Canada, we call that a hat trick). He’s really making me eat my words. I had very low expectations for this guy in the preseason. I mean, does Tevin Coleman even get this job back? Did he ever really have it? I mean, they were considered by many to be 1A and 1B in training camp. The kid has always had speed, but so did Jacquizz Rodgers. I can honestly say that I did not see him taking off like he has these past few weeks.
Now, don’t expect three scores a week from Freeman. Those numbers just aren’t sustainable. However, it’s worth noting that with Cleveland in 2014, Kyle Shanahan called for a run on 63.2 percent of plays in the red-zone and 67.2 percent of calls in goal-to-go situations were running plays. In 2015, Shanahan’s offense has run the ball 58.1
percent of the time in the red-zone and 65.2 percent in goal-to-go situations. The touchdown numbers are legit. Maybe not three per game legit, but could he end the year with 14-15? I don’t see why not, health and opportunity provided.
Chris Ivory punished the Miami run defense. He ran at them like a battering ram all morning (for us North American viewers), a performance that former Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin will see in his nightmares for the foreseeable future. He finished the game with 29/166/1. That Miami run defense looked, dare I say, confused? Which I guess makes sense, as there were reports of members of the Dolphins’ defensive front getting into a shouting match with coaches regarding the simplification of the playbook. This situation will get worse before things improve. Start your running backs against Miami until proven otherwise.
The Todd Gurley show was on full display for the second half of Rams-Cardinals in Glendale last Sunday. After an abysmal debut against the Steelers the week before, Gurley made the most of his opportunity. His 19/146/0 is proof why the Rams took him tenth overall last May. He looked like the Gurley most of us saw at Georgia. It’s also worth noting that Gurley is the first rookie running back to run for more than 100 yards in a quarter since Adrian Peterson in 2007.
Doug Martin quietly had a good game in Tampa’s 37-23 loss to the unbeaten Panthers. Martin finished things off with a 20-106-1 line, finally bearing some fruit to those who reached for him on draft day (you know who you are).
It’s also worth noting that Ronnie Hillman went 11/103/1 against the Vikings. Hillman has out-gained his backfield counterpart, C.J. Anderson, on the ground three-out-of-four weeks this season. Seriously, whether it’s Anderson, Montee Ball, or Knowshown Moreno in year’s past, the Bronco running back at the top of the depth chart never pans out. I’m dubbing it the Mile High Curse (patent pending). If Ronnie Hillman busts out for 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, for the love of god, don’t draft him early. You’ll only get hurt.
Fantasy PSA this week:
Arian Foster did return to action in Week 4’s tilt with the Falcons. However, he finished with 8/10/0, and reportedly was “limited” in Monday and Tuesday’s practices. Keep him out of your lineup until you see tangible proof that he’s fully healthy.
And the Dolphins, Jets, Panthers, and Vikings all have Week 5 byes. Plan accordingly.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
Forsett has a chance to follow up his best performance of the season (27/150/0) with another solid matchup against another divisional foe in the Browns. With the Dolphins on a bye this week, the Browns become the worst active run
defense in the NFL. Forsett averaged 91 yards/game against the Browns last season. He’s primed for another big game.
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Much like the aforementioned Forsett, T.J. Yeldon has an excellent opportunity to build on his best performance of 2015 (22/105/0) in a tilt with the Jaguars’ NFL Florida brethren in Tampa. Tampa has given up 136.75 yards/game on the ground through the first quarter of the NFL season. The likes of Bishop Sankey (12/74/1) and Alfred Blue (31/139/1) have taken advantage of a Tampa run defense that has looked less appealing than those Creamsicle orange uniforms they wear on occasion.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots
Hey, remember him? Ah, yes. “The new Shane Vereen” is rested, refreshed coming off a bye, and ready for a big game against the Cowboys. Maybe not so much for his rushing prowess, but for catching balls out of the backfield. The Cowboys have given up 82.3 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs. Sprinkle in their 91.75 rushing yards allowed per game, and things could get interesting for a pass-catching scat-back like Lewis this Sunday.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
After his break out on Monday Night Football (that leaked into Tuesday morning football for us in the Eastern time-zone), Carlos Hyde has gone 36/114/0 since. The 49ers now have to travel to the East coast for a Sunday night tilt with a Giants squad that has given up less rushing yards than any team in the NFL. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are the only two rushers to run the ball past a Giant defender for a rushing touchdown in 2015. It’s just not in the cards for Hyde this week. Leave him on the bench.
Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
If Marshawn Lynch is active next Sunday, by all means, start him. However, if it’s Thomas Rawls getting the start
for the Seahawks, look elsewhere. After having his way with the Bears’ run defense in Week 3, he looked pedestrian (2.8 YPC on 17 attempts) against a Detroit defense that has been mediocre in 2015, without Fairley and Suh. Seattle travels to Cincinnati next week to face the only run defense to not give up a rushing touchdown in 2015, who also have averaged 85.8 yards/game to opposing rushing attacks. He’s just not worth it.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
With the inert Joique Bell (finally) out of the lineup, Ameer Abdullah finally got his chance to shine…it didn’t go well. He carried the ball 13 times for 33 yards. So far, I’ve been dead-wrong on this kid. He has exactly 115 rushing yards in four games (3.38 YPC), and has looked unimpressive while doing it. Until he proves otherwise, he is to be benched. By the way, he and his Lions host the Cardinals next Sunday.
Waiver Wire Mining:
If someone in your league got hot/cold with Alfred Blue and dropped him after his incredibly underwhelming Week 4 performance and you’re hurting for a running back, he’s worth an add. I’m not buying into Arian Foster’s health just yet, and the Texans get the Colts on Thursday night. Last I checked, the Colts were fairly soft up the middle and the Texans have a history of riding Blue when he gets rolling.
Antonio Andrews is someone to keep an eye on in Tennessee. With the lack of a true number one option among the backs the Titans currently deploy (Sankey, McCluster, West), Andrews is getting some love. He actually lead the team in carries in Week 3, finishing with 12/49/1. As much as Ken Whisenhunt likes committing to his cute little RBBC, Andrews could be the unsung back to emerge.
With LeSean McCoy out with hamstring issues and Karlos Williams leaving Sunday’s tilt against the Giants with a concussion, Boobie Dixon gets the “next man up” treatment in Orchard Park. He should get the majority of the carries against the Titans next Sunday. Although, it’s worth noting that the Bills did bring in Trent Richardson in for a workout on Tuesday. Whether he signs or not, he will not be a factor in Week 5.
Alright, that does it for me this week! Have a good one!
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.