Dynasty Buys And Whys: Bennett And Freeman July 6, 2015  |  Kevin O'Brien


 

The Buy: Martellus Bennett || TE || Chicago Bears

 

The Why: Misperception

 

This time of year there are a lot of misperceptions, and the reality is that Bennett held out of all voluntary workouts this offseason, however attended mandatory minicamps. The misperception is that holding out of these voluntary workouts makes any difference come training camp. It’s no secret Bennett wants a new contract and per Spotrac.com, Bennett’s $5.1 million annual average salary puts him 13th among NFL tight ends. His guaranteed money puts him at the 18th highest for tight ends.  At the time Bennett signed his deal with the Bears, he was coming off of a 55 reception, 626 yards and five touchdown season. This past season he finished the year with 90 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. We can all debate the merits of a player honoring his contract, however, no NFL team would abide by the same set of rules if a player’s production reduced by the same amount. Bennett has already publicly stated he plans to attend training camp with his teammates.

Meanwhile, Bennett’s dynasty ADP has him as the TE7, I have him ranked as my TE3. While, sure, I can entertain the thought of Travis Kelce having his Rob Gronkowski-like break out season everyone expects, and deserving of the TE3, I’m not ready to say the likes of Greg Olsen, Julius Thomas, or Zach Ertz are ahead of Bennett who just turned 28. Olsen is 30, Thomas is good, but got a sizable touchdown bump with 44% of his fantasy (ppr) points from 12 touchdowns in a Peyton Manning led offense. Ertz is a talented TE, but with much to prove, even in a large volume offense. Here’s just a little something extra for those who saw Bennett fade in the second half of last season compared to Olsen’s second half drop-off. Both TEs only managed 1 touchdown in the second half of last season.

 

 Bennett splitsOlsen splits

 

The Buy: Devonta Freeman || RB || Atlanta Falcons

 

The Why: Bang for the buck

 

Last season, Freeman played in all 16 games and rushed 65 times for 257 and 1 TD. He also had 30 receptions on 34 targets for 225 yards and 1 receiving TD. This production resulted in an 89.7 fantasy point season as the RB48, certainly nothing that would suggest a ‘must-have’ player on your dynasty roster. However, plenty of similar running backs have had sizable increases in production the following year of a subpar or mediocre season.

Using Rotoviz.com’s RB Similarity Scores app, this graph shows players with similar comparables to Freeman and their year over year percent (YOY%) increase in fantasy points per game (FP/G).

 

 

Freeman YOY comparables

 

Brian Westbrook is an interesting comparable for Freeman, similar size running backs, both perceived as the change of pace, passing down back in their respective offenses. Westbrook was drafted in the 3rd round (91st overall) of the 2002 NFL draft. Freeman was drafted in the 4th round (103rd overall).

This table shows Westbrook’s numbers the year after his 2002 season which closely matched Freeman’s 2014 season.

 

Comparables Season N+1

Westbrook

 

This comparable line from Westbrook would result in a 198 point season in full ppr. This would be good for RB13 in 2014.

Let’s take a look at the opportunity in front of Freeman.

In 2014, Steven Jackson, since cut, was the lead back for Atlanta with 175 carries in 13 games. The Falcons selected RB Tevin Coleman in the third round of the draft. Let’s go with the assumption Coleman will be the lead back and will handle Jackson’s volume. While whatever the Freeman role is, we will call that his “floor”. Meaning, his change of pace role similar to what he was last season, without any additional share of the “lead back” role.

Along with Jackson being cut, the back who shared the change of pace role with Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers was not offered a contract to return. Rodgers leaves behind an almost identical amount of touches as Freeman had in 2014. Rodgers rushed 58 times for 217 yards and 1 TD, while having 29 receptions on 35 targets for 173 yards and 1 receiving TD. Not withstanding a major overhaul in the offensive volume, which could happen under the new regime. Although, some have suggested new Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan may actually increase the usage of RBs as he did with previous RBs in his offenses. As a baseline, lets continue with our presumption that Freeman takes on the change of pace role and progresses to eliminate the need for a time share. If we were to combine Rodger’s and Freeman’s production from 2014 into just Freeman’s 2015 projected production, this would have been good enough for RB20 last year.

Freeman’s dynasty ADP for the past month is the RB41. I currently rank Freeman as the RB26 in dynasty and believe Freeman’s adp of RB41 provides great value.

In summary, if the Falcons offensive volume is similar for that backup/change of pace role and Freeman can fill it on his own. He should be able to provide RB20-RB25 production. Multiple beat writers believe that the Falcons will give Freeman every opportunity to take on some of the lead back carries, only increasing his potential production.

 

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