steven-Jackson-again2

We bid you adieu, Michael Turner. You’ll be fondly remembered for your inability to run much more than three yards during the final year of your Falcons tenure, and also a complete absence from the passing game. Godspeed, friend.

How will Turner’s departure effect fake football rosters next fall? We’ll probably still be sort of sad.

I hope I’m wrong. I truly really do, but with the seeming lack of confidence in Jacquizz Rodgers’ ability to carry a full load due to his diminutive stature, the Falcons will pursue a larger, between the tackles runner to complement him. That’s why Steven Jackson has been so widely projected as a future Falcons employee. To remind you why Jackson’s a fine fit despite his age and the accumulating layers of crusty rust, I’ll point you towards this Sean Tomlinson guy who wrote a thing last week. He’s really smart.

Let’s start with the fact that Jackson’s had eight straight years with at least 1,000 rushing yards, and of his nine seasons, his per carry average has dipped below 4.0 just once (he finished at 4.1 in 2012). His career per season rushing average is 1,126.1 yards, and this past season he didn’t finish too far behind that despite being limited by nagging injuries at times, and also sharing some carries with Daryl Richardson (he had 1,042 yards). His receiving yardage out of the backfield also hasn’t declined much after he had 321 yards last year, and his career season average is 369.3.

Of course, what’s concerning is that Jackson’s season was essentially split in two in 2012 when he averaged 50.4 rushing yards over the first eight games, and 79.9 in the second half. That’s the risk Atlanta would hypothetically be taking. Of those two, which Jackson shows up? And can the pounding and effective Jackson appear with any consistency?

The fantasy risk here will be minimized somewhat by the potential reward of Jackson sliding down in drafts due to worries about both his decline, and his split with Rodgers. What you’ll get then is a mid to low RB2 in likely about the fifth round. But the true value with Jackson in this hypothetical scenario will be found in his goal-line carries. That’s a role Rodgers surely won’t have, and one Jackson could potentially excel in with his legs kept fresh.

Ahmad Bradshaw is another option for the Falcons, because they have $15.9 million just lying around, and they’d really like to pay a running back who can score touchdowns and win football games and stuff. Much like Jackson, health is a concern with Bradshaw since he’s now missed six games over the past two years. But Bradshaw differs from Jackson in one key area: the amount of years he’s been living, and existing as a fully functioning human.

It feels like Bradshaw should be about 56 years old, and preparing to watch the Price is Right during his lunch hour, followed by re-runs of Matlock. But Bradshaw is still a young-ish 27, which means he could give the Falcons a few productive years, especially when we remember that despite his injuries that have often limited the former Giant during games when he did suit up, he’s still rushed for 1,674 yards over the past two years with 15 touchdowns, while adding 512 receiving yards. Bradshaw would likely receive a larger share of the workload due to his age, but this is still a scenario where both running backs — Bradshaw and Rodgers — would see their value limited in a platoon situation. Bradshaw is the RB2, while Rodgers would be a strong flex.

The best fantasy scenario in Atlanta’s backfield is also the one that’s the most unlikely, primarily because our fantasy footballing overloards still hate fun. If the Falcons were to draft Eddie Lacy late in the first round, he’d then land in one of the best NFL outposts for immediate rookie running back production (with Green Bay potentially being the other). Lacy fits the profile of the large-bodied, pounding RB the Falcons will pursue to complement Rodgers, and he’d also obviously solve that whole youth problem that’s present with Jackson, and to a lesser extent Bradshaw.

He’d be another mid-to-late round pick (eighth?) in this scenario, but with a much higher upside after he averaged 6.8 yards per carry throughout his Alabama career. But unfortunately, that early in the real-life draft with real-life implications, a defensive end will be a much higher priority after John Abraham was also cut today, and selecting a tight end is also a possibility if Tony Gonzalez retires.

So now we wait. And hope.

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