Fantasy Football: Should You Be Buying or Selling Michael Turner?

John MillerCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2011

Michael Turner has five rushing TDs in his last three games
Michael Turner has five rushing TDs in his last three gamesScott Cunningham/Getty Images

Let's get one thing straight before we begin. You probably want to hang on to Turner in standard (non-PPR) leagues.

Standard leagues minimize Turner's biggest weakness: his lack of involvement in the passing game. Standard leagues also emphasize Turner's greatest strength: scoring TDs when his team gets close to the goal line.

Unless you get an excellent offer, I would probably hang on to Turner, although I might just "window shop" him around to see if any owner would make a Godfather offer.

That being said, let's talk about Michael Turner in PPR leagues.

He slipped in PPR drafts because owners are painfully aware of Turner's lack of involvement in the Falcons' passing game. Turner does have seven catches through six games, which is actually pretty good for him. But, that's just an average game for Darren Sproles. 


Turner is on pace for 21 receptions in 2011. The average top-12 RB in a PPR league will catch 40-plus passes. Turner might score more touchdowns than most, but his low reception totals basically cancel the extra TDs out.

I talk about luck in fantasy football quite a bit. But, actual NFL players get lucky too. Here are (in yards) the lengths of each rushing TD Michael Turner has scored this season: three, 21, one, one, one and two.

That's right, he only has ONE touchdown from farther than three yards out.

It would be one thing if Turner kept getting these short TD runs because he was running the ball the entire way. He's not. He's gotten four of his TDs from pass interference calls in the end zone or from a receiver losing his balance or being tackled just shy of the goal line.

That can't continue forever. Ask Roddy White's fantasy owners. Sooner or later, those close calls are going to turn into TDs. 


Turner can't generate long touchdown runs, so he's dependent on other players getting very close to the goal line without scoring for him to punch in a short TD.

Then you have to look at the actual Falcons team.

They've alternated losses and wins for six straight weeks. They've looked like an elite team at times. They've looked like a 6-10 team at times. But, it's not coincidence that Turner had his best fantasy week in Week 6 and saw 27 carries. That's because WR Julio Jones was out.

The Falcons have shown that they want to throw the ball more this season. They've continued to try to do so, even when it hasn't been working. It's unlikely that they will all of a sudden revert back to a run-first offense.

Why is that?

First, the Falcons know that they need to be able to score points at will to hang with the Packers and Patriots of the world. That's why they basically traded their entire draft to acquire Julio Jones. After making such a huge commitment, the Falcons aren't going to change course after only six games.

Also, the Falcons know that Michael Turner isn't the dynamic RB he was a couple of years ago. He's busted a handful (three or four) runs of more than 20 yards this season, and those few runs account for over a third of his rushing yardage.

Turner can get what is blocked for him, and he might be able to run over a defender or two. But, he's no longer breaking tackles and then using his speed to break off long TD runs. He's still Michael Turner, but he's no longer "The Burner." 


It's very difficult to be an elite fantasy RB when your NFL team is not fully committed to getting the ball to you as much as possible.

I don't really think this is groundbreaking stuff here. Pick an analyst, any analyst (just not an analrapist), and they will tell you that Michael Turner is in decline.

My point is that Turner scored a couple of short touchdowns he didn't earn in Week 6. How many owners in your league know that? All they will see is five TDs in the last three games.

Or, at least, that's the way you should sell it.

What do you think? Have you been offered Turner, or are you thinking about trading him away? Or even trading for him?

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. Please use the comments feature below or find me on Twitter. If you have any questions, please try to be specific.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to all of your teams.