First let me say that I don't expect Turner to become Julius Jones and fall flat on his chin-strap. To be a first round bust one need only perform at a low second or early 3rd round pick level. Turner is currently the 2nd overall pick in most drafts. If he doesn't perform like a top 12 pick, he's a bust for the season. That said, here are five good (and legitimate) reasons why Michael Turner will be a first round bust in 2009.
Jerious Norwood will impact Turner's 2009 stats
- Tony Gonzalez ~ Tony was brought over from Kansas City for a reason, and that was to help give young quarterback Matt Ryan another high-end weapon in the passing game. This means some of the touches and TDs meant for Turner will now be going to the future HOF tight end.
- Jerious Norwood ~ Norwood has great talent both as a runner and as a pass catching back. He has been woefully under-utilized in the past, but the coaching staff says he will be used much more in 2009.
- Workload ~ Part of Norwood's increased use will be in spelling Turner who was counted on way too often last season.
- Strength of Schedule ~ I know in the big scheme of things SOS doesn't mean much to fantasy teams, but it does have some impact, and Turner can expect it to hurt him in 2009. I'm not breaking new ground here when I tell you that when a team is losing the game they stop running and start throwing. Atlanta faces one of the worst schedules in the NFL this season, which should translate to more playing from behind and less running because of it. In 2008 the Falcons had a pretty easy schedule; this year it's one of the toughest. Read my strength of schedule article for more info.
Michael's final 2008 stat line:
- Bully Ball ~ In 2008, Turner mowed over a lot of grass, and a lot of teams that were weak against the run. Let's go game by game:
|Opponent||Yards Rushing||Touchdowns||YPC||Rank against the Run|
|Detroit Lions||220||2||10.0||32nd - Dead last|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||42||0||3.0||16th|
|Kansas City Chiefs||104||3||4.5||29th|
|Green Bay Packers||121||1||4.7||27th|
|New Orleans Saints||96||1||3.6||15th|
|San Diego Chargers||120||0||3.9||8th|
|New Orleans Saints||61||1||3.4||15th|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||152||1||4.8||16th|
|St. Louis Rams||208||1||8.3||30th|
Turner gained more than half his yardage and nine of his 17 TDs against six teams. They were the six worst teams against the run last season. His YPC average in those six games was 5.9. Over the remaining 10 games his YPC dropped to 3.1. Four of his remaining eight touchdowns came in one game against Carolina. Turner will not face any of those six 90 lb. weaklings in 2009. The weakest team the Falcons will face against the run all season is San Francisco, who is 21st.
A lot of experts have suggested the Falcons 2008 performance was a matter of smoke and mirrors. I think more than any member of the Falcons, Turner's lofty stats were padded by luck of the scheduling draw. I expect he'll finish outside the top 10 running backs in 2009, making him a monumental first round flop this season.
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