Every Sunday, we’ll look at the biggest storylines of the day’s games, with an eye toward who you should plan an early waiver wire claim.
If you were wondering why last year’s No. 1 running back, Devonta Freeman, was often slipping to the end of the second round in your drafts this fall, you didn’t need to wait long to get an answer.
Freeman, who led the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns and racked up 1,634 all-purpose yards in 13 starts last season, was relegated to a mere bit role in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. He finished with 20 yards on 11 carries and added 20 more on four receptions, and though he led the running backs corps in snaps overall, it was close. That’s because Tevin Coleman, Freeman’s ostensible backup, totally outperformed last year’s breakout star, and he did it in the most unlikely way possible.
Freeman led Coleman in snaps, 36-32, but it was Coleman who was the team’s best option out of the backfield. Freeman finished with 15 touches to Coleman’s 11, but Coleman racked up 95 yards through the air on six receptions, while being targeted eight times. To get a sense of how unexpected Coleman’s dominance through the air was, he had just two receptions on 11 targets last season, while playing 226 total offensive snaps.
At one point, Coleman even lined up wide in a trips formation, with Freeman serving as the lone back in the backfield. It was Coleman, then, who emerged as the team’s do-it-all back, after looking like a rushing specialist only last season. This may have just been a matchup thing. Maybe Coleman had the hot hand, and it will be Freeman who gets the big workload next week. However, Coleman earned the starting job out of camp last year, and it was only an injury that pushed Freeman into the starting role.
It isn’t time for Freeman owners to panic, to be sure. He still got more touches and snaps than Coleman, after all, so it may have just been a good game for Coleman. However, Coleman is out there on waivers in 41 percent of CBS Sports leagues, and given what he showed Sunday, should be the top target going into Week 2.
Heath, I know you weren’t in on Luck this season, and at his draft price, neither was I. However, if you were worried about Andrew Luck‘s shoulder, after watching him throw for four touchdowns and 385 yards (8.2 yards per attempt, too), it seems safe to say Luck’s issues last season were an outlier. T.Y. Hilton racked up 79 yards on six receptions Sunday, while Donte Moncrief got his breakout season started right by going for 67 yards and a score on his six catches.
However, Luck threw the ball 47 times and the Colts needed every last one of those attempts, which means there is going to be room for more than just the two wide receivers you already drafted. And, as last year’s first-round pick Phillip Dorsett showed in Week 1, he doesn’t need much room to make an impact. The speedster, who struggled as a rookie, hauled in four of his six targets for a team-high 94 yards, including a 51-yarder. Dorsett gives the Colts yet another deep threat, and with their porous defense, Luck is going to need to throw the ball quite a bit yet again.
Consistency is going to be an issue for Dorsett as it is with any player who relies on the deep ball, but when he hits, he is going to go off for big games like Sunday’s.
It is probably fair to say Ebron has been a disappointment to this point in his career. The No. 10 overall pick in 2014 had just 72 catches and six touchdowns in 27 career games in his first two seasons, and has showed just fleeting glimpses of what his college pedigree indicated he could be capable of.
Maybe that will change this season. The Lions have their possession receiver in Golden Tate. They have their deep threat in Marvin Jones. What they may not have is a big-play option down the seams and in the middle of the field, now that Calvin Johnson is gone. Ebron has a chance to fill that role for the Lions this season, and he did that in Week 1, hauling in all five passes thrown his way, for 46 yards and a touchdown. You’d like to see more big-plays from Ebron, but you have to think that will come. That Matthew Stafford looked his way five times, including in the red zone, is enough for now, especially in a week when many sleeper tight ends never woke up.
I don’t know if Richard is really going to be Fantasy relevant this season. We didn’t expect him to be before Sunday’s game and the undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi had just five touches in the game. However, he showed a lot with those five touches, racking up 95 yards, including a huge 75-yard touchdown.
And, what’s more, Richard actually saw a bit more of the field than DeAndre Washington, the expected backup to Latavius Murray. He played 10 snaps, two more than Washington according to ProFootballFocus, and was on the field frequently as the Raiders worked their way back late. He may just be the latest version of Antone Smith, a big-play magnet two years ago for the Falcons who never emerged as a useful Fantasy option given his limited workload.
However, if Richard is the backup to Murray, he will be worth owning at least in deeper leagues as a handcuff. If you have the roster spot to spare, why not roll the dice?
Source: CBS Sports / Fantasy Football Week 1 Review: Tevin Coleman reaction and an early look at waivers