Will Devonta Freeman be the 2015 NFL rushing champion?


Devonta Freeman has taken the NFL by storm through six weeks, and it’s now possible to believe he could finish 2015 as the league’s rushing champion.

Arian Foster finished No. 70 during his rookie season in 2009, and was the rushing champion a year later. During Devonta Freeman‘s rookie season last year, he finished No. 74.

If someone had written those words four weeks ago, they would have likely been fired. But in such a short period of time, the second-year man has proven that not only can he dominate, but he can back it up week in week out.

Sure, four games as a starter is a small sample size, but he is showing no signs of slowing down. This season, Freeman has more rushing touchdowns (9) than any team in the NFL. The closest is the Cincinnati Bengals, who have eight.

Every year, it seems a new running back comes out of nowhere to take the rushing title. Fresh legs is often required to play at a high level for a full year, and Freeman certainly meets that criteria. DeMarco Murray—the 2014 rushing champion—has made a slow start to 2015. Here’s a look at the past five winners.

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Of the past five rushing champions, only one of them ranked inside the top-5 for rushing the season prior. Every year, a new name emerges as the league leader that nobody sees coming.

Adrian Peterson won the 2012 league MVP award after rushing for an incredible 2,097 yards. The season before, he was No. 18 with 970 rushing yards. Arian Foster finished No. 70 during his rookie season in 2009, and was the rushing champion a year later. During Devonta Freeman’s rookie season last year, he finished No. 74.

This season, why can’t Freeman be the man?

For the man out of Florida State, individual records are good, but the main goal is for the team to win.

"“Stats for individuals, that’s cool, but it’s about us,” Freeman said. “I love the game of football regardless. It looked good individually. But a loss, I just hate losing. If I could take those touchdowns back and win, I’d give those touchdowns back, just for the win.”"

If only that were possible. Unfortunately it’s not, but Freeman will have plenty more opportunities to run in game-deciding touchdowns. As long as he can stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to maintain his form.

What’s even more impressive is the fact he was the backup running back the first two weeks of the season. A hamstring injury wiped out his preseason, and rookie Tevin Coleman was given the nod ahead of the opener against Philadelphia.

Coleman went down himself with a ribs injury in New York, and while injuries are never a good thing, it was somewhat a blessing in disguise for Freeman and the Atlanta Falcons. The rookie out of Indiana is back at full health now, but his spell on the sidelines opened the door for Freeman to show the world what he can do.

And the way he’s playing, the sky is the limit.

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