Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is complete, dynasty fantasy football decisions are on the line. As a former high school football coach and educator by trade, one of my passions include providing film-based reviews on rookie prospects and focusing on their strengths and weakness which may assist other fantasy football enthusiasts in their evaluations.
After reviewing five of his games, here’s my scouting report on former Oregon Duck and current Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman:
[Note: Most of these game videos are available via YouTube and Draft Breakdown]
RB Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos
5’11” | 231 lbs.
Wyoming, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Oregon State
Royce Freeman has been a workhorse since he got into high school and it continued throughout four years of college. In his San Diego high school career, the young running back had 7,606 rushing yards and 111 rushing touchdowns. Then in his collegiate 51 games, Freeman amassed 947 carries for 5,621 rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns, and caught 79 passes for 814 yards and four receiving touchdowns. Most young running backs that have had that kind of workload have shorter NFL careers. Perhaps Royce Freeman can break those odds, but that usage and constant contact certainly take a toll on most bodies.
Despite all those touches, the former Duck does not possess a significant second gear in the open field. He rarely runs away from any defender, so instead the young runner is forced to go through them. The problem with this style is that he seems to absorb more punishment than gets dished out to the defense. Also, Freeman tends to get taken down by the occasional arm tackle despite his size and power. For a man his size to be diminished like that, he might need to be substituted out more often than most. The Broncos newest back usually doesn’t create much on his own, as he is more dependent on his blockers to open the holes for him. This may be a problem in the NFL, as sometimes a running back needs to make plays happen by themselves if they want to be successful.
Many people say someone’s best trait is availability. Freeman demonstrated that by only missing two career college games: one with a knee injury against Colorado in 2016 and then his final meaningless bowl game in 2017 (no league championships or national championships were at stake). With all the touches the young running back has absorbed, it is a huge testament to his conditioning and ability to play through pain while missing so few games. He has a very muscular powerful frame that allows him to be quite effective running the ball through the A and B gaps. Freeman sees the field quite well and does a great job following his blockers to get past the line of scrimmage.
For a runner his size, Freeman is quite adept at squeezing through tiny holes and running to daylight. He is willing to wait for the play to develop but will take what the defense gives him if a hole is closing. The Broncos rookie likes to find the cutback lane where most blockers and defenders are not. This fits the running plays that Denver’s coaching staff prefers to call. Freeman keeps his feet churning, usually falls forward, and will occasionally spin away from contact. He is a decent pass blocker and got used on short screens. There were a few times the running back got split out wide as well.
Freeman is a big back with better than average college production. His vast amount of touches will undoubtedly catch up to him, probably more sooner than later. What does he have left in the tank? Since the Broncos usually employ a running-back-by-committee approach, he might not get all used up before the former Oregon Duck finishes his rookie contract.
In current My Fantasy League rookie PPR draft ADP, Freeman is the seventh player selected. If you do draft the young running back, I would trade for fellow Broncos runner Devontae Booker as well to cover your bases. They might be in more of a 1A – 1B running back situation, instead of a starter – backup role.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to generate and discuss 2018 rookie scouting reports with you so be sure to keep an eye on DTC for all of the new content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.