I’m combining these two because they’re being drafted very similarly. I’m going to catch some heat for this, but let me explain. When we look at past numbers, they can deceive us. We can’t let past performance solely dictate future performance. We have to look at whether stats can be reproducible, and we have to look at the opportunity given to a player to see if they’ll be on the field. If a player was on the field 20% of the time and scored, we can’t only look at the score. We have to look at the 20%, because that gives us an indication of the chances of them scoring again. If they were on the field again for 20% of the time the next game, and they score again, that’s 2 scores in 2 weeks, but we can’t start that player next week. We can’t chase points – this is such an important aspect of fantasy football. My goal is to make you guys better, and chasing points is not the way to win. We also can’t hope for injury all season while these guys burn a hole in your bench the whole time. Drafting for that scenario is just bad strategy, unless you’re doing it at the end of a draft where there isn’t as much value on the board. If either Murray or Freeman do get injured, it doesn’t mean you made the right strategic decision; it means you made the wrong strategic decision but the result happened in your favor. It’s like making a bet that has low chances of winning, but when you won, you would make that bet every time. We know that the chances you winning that bet again is very low.
Both of these guys are very talented, and given the full reign to either of these offenses, both become very high draft picks because of opportunity. They are elite handcuffs who do not have standalone value. In hindsight, they can have standalone value because they’ve outperformed their opportunity, but we can’t expect them to do similar things. The workload isn’t even close to even. They are clearly the #2 option, and neither offense will be able to sustain two consistent fantasy assets out of the backfield. Let’s start with Coleman. He had a ridiculous yards per reception that is very irreproducible – 13.6. That’s insane for a running back, and never happens. We can’t expect him to do this next year. He only had 31 receptions the entire year, but we want to make him start-worthy in PPR? He had another irreproducible stat: 8 TDs on 118 carries. That’s one touchdown every 15 carries. Think about that one. Also, can we really expect Freeman to not be on the field the same amount of time or even more than last year? He was very effective in all facets of the game and is entering the prime of his career. Another thing to note is that we should expect the Falcons offense to take a step back, because their offense as a whole was actually one of the most efficient of all time. Statistically, we can’t expect that team to repeat that performance. Look at Matt Ryan’s stats before this past year.. not so special. With an offensive coordinator change this year (even though they say they’re not changing the offense), we can’t expect that spectacle we saw last year.
Let’s move to Derrick Henry. I’m okay with drafting him in PPR by the DeMarco Murray owner, not because of his pass-catching but because his ADP is more than a full round lower than it is in standard. There are two arguments I’m hearing from people justifying his ADP. The first argument is that him and DeMarco Murray will split reps. Some of the same people are saying that DeMarco Murray is declining and it is Henry’s time to shine. I just don’t think that’s true. Murray isn’t showing any signs of decline. He’s still a very productive player who proved that he could handle the load he was given last year. He averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry, and that’s great for someone who had as many carries as him. Not only that, but he caught 53 passes out of the backfield, something that the Titans really relied on. With all of this talent, why take him off the field to bring in a second year player who isn’t as multi-dimensional as Murray? Henry was drafted by the Titans as an insurance policy for the Murray years, and for a future RB in their power run scheme; it’s a very smart strategy. Henry will spell Murray this year, no doubt, and will get his touches, and I do expect him to get more touches than last year, but the increase I’m expecting is more like 110 rushes to about 130-140. The other argument I’m hearing for Henry is that Murray is injury prone, so Henry is a good bet to take over around mid-season. That’s a huge misconception. Murray has started 61 out of the last 64 games. I’ll leave it at that.
Instead of drafting these guys, why not pick players who you can start with confidence or who have a better chance at splitting more of an even workload or even taking over? I rather draft Donte Moncrief, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, Paul Perkins, Willie Snead, Desean Jackson, and some more guys around their ADPs. If Devonta Freeman or DeMarco Murray don’t get injured, you’re stuck with an in between player in Coleman and Henry. You’re going to end up starting them because you drafted them so early, and they will disappoint you most weeks. It isn’t worth sending them out in your lineup every week if they’re only killing it for you every third or fourth week. I would bet that if they aren’t performing by Week 3 or 4, they can get traded to the DeMarco Murray or Devonta Freeman owner for pennies or flat out cut to be picked up on waivers. It’s a roster spot that will be needed when picking up guys off the waiver wire. The guys who are actually putting up points aren’t the ones who will get cut, and these guys happen to be 6th round picks.