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Mike Davis

Falcons sign unheralded performer

When we talk about the difficulty running backs have getting paid in today's NFL, we often look at the big names; the LeVeon Bell types who have to patiently take a beating for years before finally cashing in (if they're lucky). But there are plenty of smaller names who seldom get paid, or appreciated. Like journeyman Mike Davis.

Davis just signed with the Falcons for 2 years and $5.5 million. Todd Gurley and Brian Hill are unrestricted free agents who won't be back, and Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison are Falcons draft picks who've shown zero indication they merit a larger role. Smith has never really taken advantage of his opportunities in three seasons since being a fourth-round pick. Ollison, a fifth-rounder in 2019, has averaged 2.3 yards per carry his first two years in the league.

It will be a surprise if Davis isn't Atlanta's featured back this season. (I see talk the Falcons could draft someone early, but that’s also being said about Pittsburgh, Miami and Buffalo, and Najee, Javonte and Etienne can’t go everywhere.) Maybe he'll do enough to compel the team to keep him around for a while? Davis entered the league in 2015, and the Falcons are the fifth team to employ him. His contributions, which most recently include going over 1,000 total yards with 8 touchdowns in Carolina last year, don't seem to make much of an impression.

In fact, Davis has done well with his chances in the starting lineup everywhere he's been. He's started 22 games over the past five seasons, and put up double-digit fantasy points (PPR) in nearly half (10) of them -- nine of his last 15, in fact. His top performance? At Atlanta last season, when he went for 149 total yards and a touchdown.

MIKE DAVIS AS STARTER, 2016-PRESENT
YearOppRunNoRecTotTDPPR
2016T.B.21002118.1
2017Atl.182415907.9
2017Phi.64437101014.1
2017at Jac.661-16507.5
2017LAR192203905.9
2017at Dall.254184308.3
2017Ari.482166408.4
2018at Ari.101423124228.4
2018at LAR5842280118.0
2019G.B.196173609.6
2020at LAC4684591123.1
2020Ari.84527111122.1
2020at Atl.89960149129.9
2020Chi.522355113.5
2020at N.O.125243608.6
2020Atl.661117708.7
2020T.B.324124408.4
2020Det.6421579115.9
2020at Min.5532479010.9
2020Den.5154293226.3
2020at G.B.59226108.1
2020at Was.28002818.8

Understandable that Carolina, with Christian McCaffrey, wasn't going to bring back Davis (or perhaps he wanted a shot to start, which he'll get in Atlanta). But San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago should have taken a longer look the past few years. Maybe Atlanta's investment will prove to be one of free agency's better value.

There's a lot of offseason left and Atlanta might still draft someone, but they have a lot of needs. I'm thinking Davis will be their Week 1 starter, and might be a great value in fantasy leagues.

--Andy Richardson

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