After missing almost the entire 2018 season following groin surgery, Devonta Freeman really struggled in his 2019 return. His 3.6 yards per carry were a career low, and his 5.9 yards per target were also the fewest he's recorded in any season except 2018 (when he had 7 targets).
That means the Atlanta Falcons may be looking to move on and save some cap space by releasing Freeman. If they do, these are three free agent running backs they should target to replace him.
1. Lamar Miller
The Falcons rank in the bottom five in the NFL for cap space this offseason, so don't expect a flashy addition like Derrick Henry or Melvin Gordon. Lamar Miller might be available on the cheap, though, after missing the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. It's obviously a huge gamble to target another RB coming off an injury, especially after what we saw with Freeman, but Miller has a pretty impressive track record. He's a real workhorse, with at least 190 carries and 35 targets in each of his last five healthy seasons, and he finished above his career average with 4.6 yards per carry in 2018. It's a risky proposition, but Miller could give the Falcons some upside at a bargain price.
2. Chris Thompson
Even in a down year, the Falcons' offense leaned on Freeman with 70 targets in the passing game in 2019. Chris Thompson has never done much work as a rusher, with more targets (284) than carries (250) in his career, but he could certainly bring some value as a receiver. He's seen at least 50 targets in each of the last four seasons, averaging 6.6 yards per target in that stretch — compared to a 6.2-yard career average for Freeman.
3. DeAndre Washington
DeAndre Washington may not bring as much name value as those first two, but with Ito Smith still around, the Falcons can also afford to try for some more speculative options. Washington's 292 receiving yards in 2019 rank fifth among this free agent RB crop, and he did it by averaging an impressive 7.1 yards per target on 41 looks. He also racked up a career-high 108 carries, though admittedly his efficiency on the ground (3.6 yards per attempt) was nothing to write home about. Washington has shown some potential as a well-rounded back in his four years with the Oakland Raiders, and he could be an interesting addition if the Falcons choose to bring in a few inexpensive backs to compete for work this offseason.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.