In the second part of my offseason Fantasy Football Sleeper analysis, I want to talk about a little guy who really didn't get much of a chance to shine in Atlanta as a rookie. With the Falcons' early exit last weekend against the Giants in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, it's time to talk about what's going to happen with the team's backfield in 2012.
Michael Turner has been the breadwinner for the past 4 seasons, averaging an almost unheard of 297.5 carries in that time span. And even though he averaged 4.5 yards a carry in 2011, if you look at Turner's numbers after Week 11, where he went for 100 against the Titans, they are mediocre at best:
Yes he had that huge game against the Buccaneers, but I am throwing that game out. Not only were the Buccaneers a dysfunctional franchise on both sides of the ball, but their defense gave up an eye-popping 27.5 fantasy points a game. Anyone from our staff could have easily managed a 4.0 ypc average against that crap.
And against the Giants in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Turner managed just 41 yards off 15 carries. The running game, or lack thereof, was one of many reasons why the Falcons were only able to put up 2 points in the Giants' lopsided victory.
Entering the age of 30 and due $5 million in 2012, it remains to be seen what the team plans on doing with Turner. NBC Sports' Gregg Rosenthal tweeted that head coach Mike Smith realizes the running game "Needs to be more effective" and that the team will "Have to analyze amount of touches for Turner moving forward."
So with the evaluation process on Turner in full force, let me introduce you to my second sleeper for 2012. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Falcons selected Rodgers with the 145th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. A smallish back at 5'6/196, Rodgers fell to the 5th round strictly because of his size. Here are a few highlights of Rodgers' career at Oregon State, per Wikipedia:
His greatest game in his young college football career came in a stunning upset of the then #1 ranked team in the country, the USC Trojans, when he had 36 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
Rodgers broke the Pac-10 freshman rushing record during Oregon State's 34-6 victory over UCLA on November 8, 2008.
In 2009, Rodgers scored 23 total touchdowns, including 1 passing and 1 receiving. He finished the season with over 1,400 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving.
Despite his small size, I really think Rodgers could have a much bigger role in the offense in 2012. If the Falcons decide to keep Turner, they are going to have to limit his role even more with so much mileage under his belt in such a short time. There has been no indication that the team plans on bringing back impending free agent Jason Snelling, who fractured his jaw against the Giants. The Falcons also don't have a first round pick this year after trading away a goldmine to the Browns in last year's draft for Julio Jones.
Rodgers makes for an interesting PPR prospect (He caught 4 passes last weekend), especially in larger leagues. He has the speed and runs harder than his size dictates. And keep in mind another fellow Falcons alum by the name of Warrick Dunn (5'7/180) had a strong career despite his size. With the Falcons having other needs, especially on defense, they could decide to roll with Turner and give Rodgers more touches. At the very least, Rodgers could be worth a late-round flyer in all PPR leagues in the hopes he has a strong training camp.