While the Falcons have an arsenal of receiving threats, Michael Turner is not to be overlooked. The running back is pushing thirty, and many fantasy gurus assume this means his fantasy production will inevitably drop off. However, I believe Turner “the burner” is a great value at is current ADP (average draft position)–37th overall and 16th among RBs. Last year, Turner scored his 49th and 50th career touchdowns as a Falcon, breaking the franchise record and becoming just the third player in franchise history to post 50+ overall TDs. Yes, he’s a year older, and yes, his workload may decrease some, but enough so to drop to a third round pick? Looking at it from a fantasy perspective: Over the past four seasons, Turner has averaged close to 14 points per game in the first 10 games of the season all but once–he averaged about 10 points per game in 2010. A back that consistently averages 10-14 points per week…I’d take it!
Falcons sources have already stated we may be seeing more of Jacquizz Rodgers this season, but Turner has made it known he will be unhappy if his playing time is significantly disrupted. If Turner typically carries the ball 300 times a season and is limited to only 250 carries in the 2012 season, does this really make him significantly less valuable?
One of the most valid arguments that can be made for Michael Turner is that he is one of the few backs left in the NFL who is not in a running back committee situation. Turner is the premiere RB in Atlanta, and it is unlikely that fantasy owners will ever have to worry about touchdown vultures stealing Turner’s goal line carries. Despite the fact that Jacquizz Rodgers may be carrying some of the workload this season, the split should still highly favor Turner—we’re not looking at a 50/50 or 60/40 split.
Still, Turner skeptics wonder what role he’ll play on a team that looks to be a predominantly passing offense this season. Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones are projected to have a big year, so what does this mean for Turner and the run game? Maybe it does mean fewer carries per game, but let’s not forget: This also means that when Turner does run the ball, it will be easier for him to do so. With defenders stretched downfield in the attempt to cover White and Jones, it’s Turner who is left with room to run.