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Sleeper Spotlight: Atlanta Falcons

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s more value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and either or re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league or consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB ATL

Age: 22 (2/6/90)

The diminutive Rodgers failed to generate any significant fantasy production in 2011, generating only 205 yards rushing, 188 yards receiving and a single touchdown in each category.  At only a 3.6 ypc. average, Rodgers won’t make any coach forget about running back Michael Turner, or even the recently re-signed Jason Snelling.

As a rookie out of Oregon State in 2011, Rodgers entered the NFL as a “Swiss army knife” type of player to those hoping to secure the next Darren Sproles.  In the budding offense that was the Falcons and paired with fellow rookie Julio Jones, the hope was that Rodgers would be moved around in the offense in order to maximize his opportunities by getting him into space.  Given the expectations of the Falcons talented receiving corps, combined with the aging, yet still effective Turner in the backfield, it was a recipe that seemingly should have produced results.  And on paper it most certainly did.  In reality, however, while the passing attack did rank in the top ten (#8), Rodgers and the rushing attack never truly emerged and he never garnered a role of any significance.

2012 Outlook

Turning our attention to 2012, second year player Julio Jones and top receiver Roddy White look to, again, stretch defensive schemes to the breaking point, potentially clearing opportunities underneath for the speed of Rodgers.  With Tony Gonzalez returning for what is likely his final year, opportunities should come more often as long as new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter devises ways to get the ball into Rodgers’ hands.  It’s not likely that “Quizz” will see many rushing attempts behind both Turner and Snelling, but an increase is possible.  Considering his open field skills, we’ll be shocked if Rodgers isn’t targeted often in the short passing game, well more than doubling 2011’s 21 receptions; in fact, we believe he is a dynamic weapon capable of surpassing 50 receptions in 2012, if used creatively.

Given Michael Turner’s advancing age and the need for the Falcons to reduce his load, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Rodgers will be counted on more heavily in the ground game as well.  Predictions of productivity into this unknown are difficult, but should Rodgers average five carries per game, surpassing 900 combined yards isn’t out of the question.  If you participate in a league that rewards return yardage as well, Rodgers’ value proposition continues to rise.

Jacquizz Rodgers is our sleeper for a reason.

After 2011’s disappointing campaign, he’s been written off rather convincingly by most fantasy coaches.  On a team where there may not be enough balls to go around on offense, it’s difficult to forecast the top fantasy producing receiver or running back, let alone the player that could surprise to the greatest degree.  But when you combine dynamic play-making ability and speed with under-utilization within a high-powered and productive offense, you’ve got all the makings for a player that could very well drastically outplay his drafted position in start up leagues for years to come.

Give “Quizz” a look in the early teen rounds of your draft and hope you strike dyntasy gold.

Jeff Haverlack
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Ray Voeller
10 years ago

drafted him in 2nd round last year and plan to hold him this year. Only way I let him go is if Turner goes down and he get increased work load with poor results. If Burner turns in one more productive season I still hold him. Want Q to get a legit chance before I cut bait.

Chris Crane
10 years ago

IDP sleeper = Akeem Dent

James Young
10 years ago

Is it just me or are there others that believe that Turner will not see his role significantly decrease this year. Its seems like the same argument as last off-season and he still got the rock a lot and had pretty decent scoring – pretty much what you expected out of him.

Some teams just like to ride their backs into the ground, and thus into early retirement. Turner seems like that case.

Sure I know his dynasty value is somewhat low given the understanding that he has 1, maybe 2 years left, but for a contender, hes probably worth the cost.

Ryan Krcil
Reply to  James Young
10 years ago

I agree. And if his roll is decreased it will be between the 20’s. He will still get those goal-line carries and I think there will be a few more of them this year.

sabertooth
10 years ago

I think Quiz is a nice flex. I got him as a throwin in a trade and I’m holding for sure. Sproles is his upside and with the way teams use committee, when you have a guy like that, his receptions make up for his lack of total touches and touchdowns in a PPR.

Alvin Mullins
10 years ago

I don’t see Quiz as a sleeper any longer. He is in a make or break it year IMO. With Turner clearly on the downside and the Falcons moving to a spread offense this has to be his year or he will be a bust. I frankly don’t have a lot of confidence in the Falcon OL for him to be that big of a breakout. Last year was when I thought he would do it. While not a Hardesty, he’s not a Spiller either.

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