Atlanta Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers entered 2012 with some buzz in fantasy football circles, as the Falcons were moving to a more pass-oriented offense that was deemed a poor fit for top tailback Michael Turner. Add in Turner’s age (30) and the fact he had over 300 carries in three of the previous four seasons, and there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Rodgers heading into his second NFL season.
But it was not quite to be, as Turner still led the team in carries with 222 during the regular season and scored 10 touchdowns. Rodgers did take a more significant role though, with 94 carries and 53 receptions along with two total touchdowns. That catch total equals Turner’s production as a pass catcher over the last four seasons, so if Atlanta’s offense continues on the track it started on this season, Rodgers should see an even more significant role in 2013.
2013 will be the final season of Turner’s contract, and with his lackluster production this season (3.6 yards per game) there has been some speculation he will be cut after the season. That is a bit of a reach at this point, but at the very least Turner’s overall role looks likely to decline again next season, when he will be 31-years old with over 1,600 career regular season carries.
Rodgers lacks the size (5’6″, 196 lbs.) to be a quintessential every-down back, and it’s fair to think if the Falcons thought he was capable of filling that role they would have moved more dramatically in that direction this season. Jason Snelling is also in the mix in the Atlanta backfield, and he did have 31 receptions during the 2012 regular season, but he is unlikely to be a significant factor for fantasy owners next season without injuries to Turner or Rodgers.
Rodgers’ fantasy value heading toward next season is greatest in PPR leagues, but I think he will be worthy of a late draft pick and a season-long roster spot in standard leagues as well. How much his role expands, assuming it indeed does, largely depends on outside factors, like the Falcons adding a running back in April’s draft as a potential replacement for Turner. But right now Rodgers has the makings of a nice low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 in PPR formats, and a solid flex option or bye week fill-in for those in standard leagues.