Three NFL players with the "freedom" to thrive this upcoming seasonDate: July 3, 2019
By: Jorie Mickens
Happy Independence Day! Today is a day in which America celebrates the Declaration of Independence, a document declaring the freedom of America’s first 13 colonies from British rule.
Today is also the day to name three players likely to have the freedom to run rampant this season, due to the weak supporting cast at their positional groups.
The first player is Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake. Drake showed signs of running back-one potential last season. In a game against the Bengals, Drake rushed for 46 yards in just six attempts and had 69 yards through the air and a receiving touchdown.
Brian Flores, the former linebacker coach for the New England Patriots, was hired to be Miami’s new head coach just one day after winning the Super Bowl. Flores, while expected to be a defensive-minded coach, could bring schemes over from the Patriots that helped running backs Dion Lewis and James White be dominant dual threat running backs.
Drake will have to battle for touches with fellow running back Kalen Ballage but, running back Frank Gore is gone. Gore led the team in rushing attempts with 156 last season, leaving Drake a golden opportunity to have north of 200 rushing attempts this upcoming season.
The next player likely to benefit from the lack of weapons at his position is Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Lockett is coming off a career year in which we saw him amass 965 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns all in just 70 targets.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin retired this offseason and was the team leader in targets last season. While the team did address this issue in this year’s draft by selecting wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, it is unlikely he will make much of an impact as wide receivers historically do not produce much during their rookie seasons.
The Seahawks made quarterback Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL back in April. While the Seahawks have a top-10 backfield and will utilize the run game, expect the Seattle to be launching the ball all over the field this season and for Lockett to become arguably the best wide receiver-two in fantasy this season.
The final player likely to dominant due to the freedom he has in his backfield is Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. When healthy, Cook is one of the league’s best running backs. Before tearing his ACL during his rookie season, Cook was on pace to have 1,416 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and nearly 400 receiving yards. Cook also dealt with hamstring issues last season that forced him to sit out five games for the Vikings last season.
Cook told Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk back in April that he had, “No more rehab.” And that Cook wants to “Get bigger, get stronger, get faster, learn the game more, lead the group, and just be me.”
If Cook can stay healthy this season, there will be no one getting in his way. Backup running back Latavius Murray has left for the Saints and the only capital the Vikings invested in running backs this offseason was their third-round pick Mattison Alexander. A healthy Cook could easily be a top-10 fantasy running back this season.
Jorie Mickens can be reached at email@example.com.