Fantasy Football Mailbag: Monday 9/12/16

How heavily should you invest in Tevin Coleman after his Week 1 showing? And what do we do with Dez Bryant?

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

I have to be transparent with you here, Brent. I'm not able to be rational about Tevin Coleman. Okay, that's a lie, but I really don't like Devonta Freeman as a running back. According to our Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Freeman owned a per-carry mark of 0.13 through Week 11 last season. The league average for a running back was -0.04. Further, 48.50% of his carries led to NEP gains for the Atlanta Falcons, compared to the league average of 39%.

After Week 11, Freeman posted marks of -0.15 and 29.90%, respectively. In his rookie year, they were -0.23 and 24.62%. He had a fantastic stretch early last year, but outside of that, he's been bad. Really bad.

But we can't get hasty, and I need to keep my observations objective.

So, in Week 1, Freeman saw 36 offensive snaps (55% of the team's plays), and Coleman saw 32 (49%). Jeremy Hill saw 29 snaps for the Cincinnati Bengals (51%), and Frank Gore played 48 offensive snaps (69%).

Coleman is the only one of the three not to have played the majority of the snaps in his backfield, and we can't overlook that. Further, Gore has finished as the RB17, RB14, RB10, RB15, RB19, and RB11 in his past six seasons based on PPR scoring, and Hill has finished RB11 and RB17 in his two years. We're talking about two players in better situations and promising track records here, so I couldn't drop either for Coleman.

Hey! Another one about Tevin Coleman. Only this time it also includes Theo Riddick. We went down the rabbit hole on Coleman already, but we may not need to do that for Riddick, who posed a -0.26 Rushing NEP per carry on 43 totes last year with a Success Rate of just 32.56%.

Still, though, Riddick played just 24 offensive snaps, 37% of Detroit's plays in Week 1. Ameer Abdullah saw 40 snaps (62%). Those somewhat mirror the Cleveland Browns' breakdown, with Isaiah Crowell seeing 30 snaps (58%) and Duke Johnson seeing 23 (44%).

Johnson saw 19.2% of the Browns' targets, a much higher rate than Riddick's 12.8%. Further, the injury to Robert Griffin III will give Josh McCown starter's duties for Cleveland. Per Rotoviz's Game Splits App, Johnson averaged 9.59 half-PPR points in 8 games with McCown last year compared to 7.21 without him.

He had two touchdowns in each split, so what really changed things were his 4.75 catches and 5.50 targets with McCown compared to 3.00 catches and 3.88 targets without him, as well as doubling his receiving yardage from roughly 23 to 44. He should be good moving forward.

As for T.J. Yeldon, he did disappoint in Week 1, but with Chris Ivory's status uncertain for Week 2 and beyond and a matchup against the San Diego Chargers looming, he's tough to drop, as he was on the field for 88% of Jacksonville's snaps in Week 1.

Neither waiver wire back has as certain of a role as the two already on your roster, and neither have the upside that Josh Gordon possesses, so standing pat is probably the right call here.

I'll start with the easy one. You can't be very worried about Ezekiel Elliott. He got 66.7% of the team's carries in Week 1 and played on 62% of their snaps. The New York Giants did a swell job bolstering their front-seven this offseason. The Dallas Cowboys have what is likely the best offensive line in the NFL. Per numberFire Live, Dak Prescott played well above expectation, posting a NEP of 7.02 on his 45 attempts. It'll be okay.

As for Dez Bryant, there are some causes for concern. He did play on 96% of the snaps in Week 1 but drew just 5 targets in the process, resulting in 1 catch for 8 yards. Per Rotoviz's Game Splits App, he has averaged just 9.82 half-PPR points in 8 games without Tony Romo since 2011 compared to 14.83 in 64 games with him in that span.

But let's not forget that he was just a smidge away from reeling in a touchdown, which would have softened the Week 1 jitters. He should be treated as more of a WR2 than a top-end WR1 until Romo returns or until Prescott looks his way more often, but trading him now is selling at a big loss on investment.

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