Tevin Coleman: Fantasy Football League Winner

by Tim Talmadge ·

At this time last year, we could not have been more excited for the prospects of prolific RB Tevin Coleman.  The teams from RotoUnderworld and Rotoviz contributed several articles stating that Coleman was a better option than Devonta Freeman, and he could be 2015’s league winning RB.

I recall becoming emotional about Tevin Coleman.  I loved Coleman coming out of Indiana, and when my favorite team the Atlanta Falcons selected him, I swooned.  Unfortunately, after winning the starting job, a rib injury in Week 2 redirected his career path like Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau.

With Devonta Freeman‘s dynamic emergence pushing Tevin Coleman to the bench for the remainder of his rookie season, the fantasy community quickly marginalized Coleman.  Here are three reasons to maintain the Tevin Coleman enthusiasm.

1. Explosive Profile

It wasn’t just the exceptional 40-yard dash and 90th-percentile College Dominator Rating that made Coleman such a special prospect.


Tevin Coleman Advanced Metrics Profile

Jon Moore looked at him compared to the 1st RB selected Melvin Gordon and found he was just as good, if not better, against similar competition.  Also his attempt at “Visualizing the careers of the 2015 RB class” placed Gordon and Coleman into Tier 1 along side stud Todd Gurley based on age adjusted production.


2015 Rookie Running Back Class Visualization

And while he was pretty ineffective for the Falcons in the passing game,  I wouldn’t come to the conclusion that he’s incompetent.  In college he was fairly productive by comparison.

Player Years Receptions Receiving Yards
Tevin Coleman 2013-14 44 334
Ameer Abdullah 2013-14 48 501

2. Sneaky Juicy Situation

ICYMI: Falcons rookie RB Tevin Coleman, the starter for Week 1, ready to take the hole full speed. http://t.co/vSterjIZnF

— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 8, 2015

Remember this? The Falcons have always believed in Tevin Coleman‘s potential to be the man.  Like it or not that was also an indictment on Devonta Freeman.  Both players had setbacks with injuries heading into the preseason so they were even as far as learning the new scheme and the team selected the rookie to start the year.

No question Devonta Freeman took advantage of the opportunity that was given to him.  Week 3 he exploded on the Cowboys, although they were quite beat up as a team.  Then from Week 4 to Week 8 he put up numbers (specifically touchdowns) that few have done before.  The Rotoviz strength of schedule app suggests he may have beat up on softer competition.


2016 NFL Regular Season Schedule Grid

From Week 9 on, Devonta Freeman was back to being a below average player in the run game but kept his high floor in fantasy due to his ability in the receiving game.


Devonta Freeman Week 9-17 Stats (2015)

By comparison…


Trent Richardson Week 1-17 Stats (2012)

Devonta Freeman‘s underwhelming second half makes you wonder about his job security as Atlanta’s primary back.  Recall that Trent Richardson was a top-5 RB selection in 2013 fantasy drafts and would only start two games for the Cleveland Browns before being traded away.

Considering we have more of a sample size that tells us Devonta Freeman is a bad runner I think people that rode the wave last season are fooling themselves into believing he’s a teflon asset.

Devonta Freeman’s Weeks 3-7 last year:
109-578-8 rushing (5.30 YPC).

Freeman’s other 26 career games:
221-726-4 rushing (3.29 YPC).

— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 23, 2016

This isn’t to say that Tevin Coleman is without his warts but more to illustrate that the door is still open for him.  Those plays against the Saints and Vikings where he gained 40 yards and fumbled, what do you think the result would’ve been if he scored?


Is it crazy to say Tevin Coleman could’ve stolen the job in the second half of the season if he the team could’ve trusted him to hold the ball (assuming he also never falls in the shower)?

I’m not a decision maker for the team but I don’t think it is.

3. Encouraging Camp Reports

Here’s some quotes from his peers-

Quarterback Matt Ryan:

Even some second year guys. It’s good to see guys like Tevin Coleman coming into his own. Looks really comfortable within the system. I think his confidence is really high. And I think it should be, because he’s such a talented guy, and he’s going to be really good for us. So I’ve been impressed with a lot of young guys.

Head Coach Dan Quinn:

In terms of him like running in the outside zone, seeing his reads and making his cuts, he was really on point, Quinn said. That’s why we are so excited because he and Free together make a pretty unique combination.

His downhill and the speed that he goes, Quinn said are Coleman’s main assets. Free is different, where some of the damage that Freeman does is when he catches (passes). He can also be used as a receiver at times, because he’s got that kind of speed.

OC Kyle Shanahan:

He can do a lot, Shanahan said. I think the sky’s the limit for Tevin. I feel very good about our backs. … I think he’s a hell of a runner, and I’m extremely excited about Tevin Coleman.

I know, talk is talk.  Actions speak louder than words.  So on and so on.  The facts are the team is still really excited about Tevin Coleman‘s potential and sitting him on the bench doesn’t exactly help him reach it.

Heading into 2016, there shadow looms over Devonta Freeman.  He wears number 26, and his name is Tevin Coleman.  If Freeman merely regresses to he career averages, Coleman is poised to be a fantasy football league winner.