As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each week of DFS, injuries are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, or simply a change to the depth chart. 

 

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Devonta Freeman — RB, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are off to such a great start in large part thanks to Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and a surprisingly strong defense. The RB position hasn’t played a huge role in their success, but Tevin Coleman had been a workhorse during the first game and a half of the season.

In Week 1, Coleman handled 20 carries (gaining 80 yards), and before getting injured last week against the Giants, was given nine carries for 32 yards and a touchdown. He may have only been averaging 3.9 YPC, but having not even played two full games in his NFL career, that’s not the important part. What’s important is that Coleman was a lock to receive 15-20 touches per week at a cheap price on DK. Those are the type of players we search for.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, they’re extremely thin at RB. For fantasy players, it’s as clear of a situation as you can ask for — which we love. Devonta Freeman is the uncontested next man up.

Fantasy football can get complicated when it comes to injuries, especially at RB with all the time shares these days. It sounds like this is one of the exceptions. Arian Foster has been replaced by three players thus far (Blue, Polk, Grimes), so you can’t take Foster’s opportunities and transfer them to one player. Once they’re split up, they because wildly unpredictable, which means there’s not much value. In Atlanta’s situation, we can be pretty sure that Coleman’s touches will simply be handed right to Freeman.

Although Freeman’s talent isn’t that of Coleman’s as a pure rusher, Freeman is much more talented in the receiving game. Rather than strictly taking 20 carries as Coleman did Week 1, Freeman should get his touches as more of a combination, which already helps in PPR.

Filling in for Coleman in the second half of Week 2, Freeman managed only 25 yards on 12 carries, but did score a touchdown and gain another 34 yards on four receptions. Coleman’s broken ribs aren’t the type of injury where we know exactly how long he’ll be out, since returning has a lot to do with his threshold for pain. It sounds like 2-4 weeks is reasonable to expect, which means Freeman is a great target as the lone option in the backfield, especially at his initial price tag of $4,600.

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