The fantastic news for those that own Michael Turner is that he is off the Jamarcus Russell diet and lifestyle and has prepared for this season like a professional. That is bad news for teams that face the Falcons is Turner should be back to beast mode – not the fake Marshawn Lynch beast more – the real beast mode…
Last year, Atlanta Falcons fans and fantasy football owners alike wondered where had the 2008 Michael Turner gone. He seemed to be replaced by a fatter, slower version of himself. Turner the Burner was closer to Eddy’s Slow Churn – apparently he was temporarily on the Jamarcus Russell diet and workout regimen. Turner admits that he got lazy and he attributes his fall off to being out of shape and dinged up.
Let’s put 2009 in perspective. Even in a “down” year, one in which he was admittedly out of shape, he managed a 4.9 yards per carry average and ten touchdowns. Show me another back who can average 4.9 yards in his worst season, there are not many. His 871 yards were a disappointment, but when you consider they came from only 178 carries, less than half of his 2008 total of carries, you can’t say he didn’t perform when he was on the field. The problem is – it’s hard to stay on the field in the NFL when you are a deconditioned running back. By all accounts, Turner is back in peak condition and ready to be the workhorse back for the entire season. Adding even more promise to his 2010 campaign, Turner has said he is focusing on being a better pass catcher, so we may see him more on third down.
We can’t expect him to repeat his 2008 workload in 2010. The Falcons would be crazy to allow him to hand the ball off to him over 370 times again. But, over 300 carries seems almost a lock and if he can increase his reception total, his best year was a whopping 6 receptions, he could be a steal in PPR leagues where he is falling to the end of the first round. Turner, even when off, has proven that he is potent with the ball in his hands. Double-digit TDs and 1,300 rushing yards is guaranteed if he can stay healthy. I think he is good for 315 carries, 1,400 yards, 15 receptions, 105 yards, 15 TDs. I think of Turner as a first round back in 12 team leagues in any format.