X

Royce Freeman, Fournette's Role, N'Keal Harry Outplayed in NFL Fantasy Roundup

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the NFL fantasy world.

   

Broncos' Optimistic About Royce Freeman

As the Denver Broncos prepare for their first season with Joe Flacco at quarterback, their stable of running backs is generating buzz in camp. 

Per Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson, Royce Freeman is getting positive reviews with the plan being to evenly split touches with Phillip Lindsay:

Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson

4. #Broncos are feeling really good about RB Royce Freeman right now. To the point that they are hoping to finally establish the true split-touch situation that they envisioned between Freeman and Phillip Lindsay last season. They feel like that plan is fully on track for 2019.

One potential complicating factor in Freeman getting more touches is the potential addition of free agent Theo Riddick. 

Per Mike Klis of 9News, Riddick is expected to sign with the Broncos "barring the unexpected."

Riddick had a near 50-50 split between carries (288) and receptions (285) during his six seasons with the Detroit Lions. Flacco has historically targeted his running backs in the passing game—Javorius Allen had at least 35 catches in three of the previous four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. 

A third-round pick in 2018, Freeman had 593 yards and five touchdowns on 144 touches as a rookie. He got passed on the depth chart early last season because Lindsay came out of nowhere with 227 touches, 1,278 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns as an undrafted free agent. 

Lindsay had wrist surgery in December, but he told reporters on July 15 "in my mind, I'm 100 percent.''

Freeman has a lot of competition for touches in Denver's backfield, but the coaching staff's optimism about him right now is encouraging for a potential breakout in 2019. 

   

Leonard Fournette Diversifying Skill Set

New Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is looking to find different ways for running back Leonard Fournette to get the ball this season.

Per John Oehser of Jaguars.com, DeFilippo explained how Fournette has worked to make himself a better receiver out of the backfield:

"There are pass plays [in DeFilippo's scheme] that are extensions of your running game. If you throw that guy a wide route, it's basically like tossing a football trying to circle the defense. 

[...]

“He has caught numerous balls each day in practice. I don't want to say it's going to be a huge piece of our offense, but that's a credit to Leonard because we're trying to find different, unique ways to get him the footballnot just handing it to him."

Fournette averaged 2.8 catches per game in 2017 and 2018, though that doesn't make a huge dent in the fantasy world. 

Part of his limitations as a receiver are a reflection of Jacksonville's struggles throwing the ball with Blake Bortles. 

Things should be better this season with Nick Foles taking over at quarterback. He was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots two years ago when DeFilippo was his quarterbacks coach.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was targeted 39 times in eight games with DeFilippo as offensive coordinator before he was fired after a Week 14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. 

Fournette is going to be Foles' safety net out of the backfield. An improved offense should lead to increased touches for the third-year running back. 

N'Keal Harry Getting Outplayed in Patriots Camp

When the New England Patriots drafted N'Keal Harry with the final pick of the first round in April, it was assumed the former Arizona State star would play a key role for the offense. 

Per NFL Network's Michael Giardi, Harry is currently being outplayed by an undrafted free agent early in training camp:

Michael Giardi @MikeGiardi

Undrafted free agent WR Jakobi Meyers has consistently made plays in competitive situations. Has out-performed N'Keal although again, we're just a week in. #Patriots

The Patriots have a lot of targets to spread around the Rob Gronkowski currently enjoying retirement. Tom Brady has a built-in rapport with running back James White, who led the team with 123 targets and 87 receptions last season, and Julian Edelman. 

There were already questions about how Harry's game would translate to the pros, with NFL.com's Lance Zierlein writing "his inability to find a threatening top gear or shake loose from tight man coverage must be accounted for within his new employer's scheme."

Harry's performance in training camp is significant for many reasons, not least of which is trying to build chemistry with Brady. Head coach Bill Belichick has proven he will sit anyone if they aren't working out, regardless of where they were drafted. 

It's not time to panic about Harry being a contributor to New England's offense, but it seems like he will need to improve his performance to make himself a factor when the regular season starts.