It’s a rough life being stuck behind a great running back. Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman has averaged 74 yards from scrimmage this season with at least 36 yards in all five games despite maxing out at 13 touches thus far. That has resulted in an absurd 7.12 yards per touch. For comparison, when Le’Veon Bell had 1884 yards from scrimmage in just 12 games last year, that was 5.6 yards per touch. Kareem Hunt – the jaw dropping rookie that leads the league in yards so far – has 6.97 yards per touch. Tevin Coleman has basically been Kareem Hunt in backup form.
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It would be expected to see Coleman’s yards per touch drop in a larger role of course, but it’s not that far off from his 6.31 yards per touch last year when he led all running backs with 13.6 yards per reception. One of my favorite things to do with a player is look at his last 16 games played to see what his stats look like over a full season. Including playoffs it looks like this for Coleman: 1,016 yards from scrimmage, 4.9 YPC, 9.3 yards per rec and 11 TDs. Those are fantastic numbers.
What’s it going to take to see Tevin Coleman become a lead back? Either an injury or free agency after 2018. As great as Coleman has been, teammate Devonta Freeman has done nothing to lose his job despite far fewer yards per touch (4.94). Freeman has been a prolific touchdown scorer since his breakout 2015 campaign. He scored a league best 14 TDs that season, 13 last year and has scored five this year with at least one touchdown in each of the Falcons first four games. He also just signed a big five year contract extension this August so it is safe to say Freeman is not going anywhere. That means Tevin Coleman, currently in year three of his rookie deal, is unlikely to exceed ~175 touches this year or next. Coleman had 149 touches last year and is currently on pace for 166 this year under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
With that in mind, how patient are you feeling? On one hand, an injury to Freeman could come at any time that suddenly thrusts Coleman into a starter’s role where he may shine and see his value skyrocket. On the other hand, Coleman himself has played in just 12 and 13 games in his first two seasons and if he were to suffer an injury this year or next his value would decline and some may label him as injury prone. Additionally, as long as Freeman stays healthy we probably aren’t going to see Coleman’s value fluctuate much as the RB2 despite some gaudy numbers.
In my opinion, if you like a player you should always look to acquire him sooner than later. You never know what circumstances may result in that player’s value increasing while you kick yourself for not pulling the trigger earlier. I know because I’ve had it happen to myself a number of times in the past. If you are sold on the king of yards per touch, grab him now and assume he is a decent RB3 for your team through 2018 before becoming something much more. If it happens sooner, great! If not, you won’t be disappointed – as long as you are patient with an eye on the big picture.
That brings us to the most important question – what should you pay? He was already a top 20 RB last year and currently sits in RB2 range this year in PPG (having had his bye already). His price isn’t too crazy because there was such a strong notion of “regression incoming!” after his 11 TDs on so few touches last season. I would trade an expected late 2018 first for Coleman without hesitation. I would also trade an expected mid 2018 first though I wouldn’t be as happy about that.
Before finishing this article, I sent a couple of offers out for Tevin. One (Joe Mixon for Tevin and an expected late 2018 first) was rejected almost immediately. A second trade was accepted after a brief back and forth with my good friend and fellow writer @RekedFantasy. The deal ended up being an expected mid-late 2018 first and late 2018 second for Tevin. A little more than my ‘no hesitation’ zone but I am happy to get a player I really like all the same. This team is also rebuilding with an eye on contention for 2018 or 2019 so I’m in a great position to be the patient guy. Follow my lead and let your patience be rewarded!
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