The Choice Is Yours: Jason Snelling or Jacquizz Rodgers?

What the great questions of hip hop can teach us about the Atlanta running backs.

Over the course of human history, there have been many questions and problems raised with no resolution in sight. Issues that impact our lives and leave us wondering how we’ll ever find the truth and bring the tumultuous story to a peaceful end.

Of course I’m talking about hip-hop songs.

Does DMX know where the hood is at yet? Or where his dogs are?

If he fell off tomorrow, would you still love 50 Cent?

Did Ludacris ever figure out what in the world is in that bag?

What are the 99 problems Jay-Z has?

But the pinnacle of hip-hop decisions was presented by Black Sheep, who informed us that we can get with this, or we can get with that.

Dres and Mista Lawnge let us know that “this” is where it’s at. So we’ve been left since the early '90s trying to figure out what “this” is.

In 2013, we’re faced with a similar problem. Steven Jackson went down with an injury, leaving a void in the Atlanta Falcons’ backfield. So for Week 3, there are two players who will see time replacing Jackson.

So do you get with Jacquizz Rodgers, or do you get with Jason Snelling?

Can I hear a hey? Can I get a yo?

Is it even worth adding an Atlanta back this week?

All sorts of deep, philosophical questions this week.

If you have better options on your roster for Week 3, you obviously don’t need to waste any time digging deep to snag either Rodgers or Snelling.

But there’s definitely value to be had if the Falcons commit to running the football on Sunday against Miami.

So far this season, the Miami defense has faced almost three times as many passes as runs, but based on numberFire’s data, teams should have given the run a second chance against the Fins.

Teams have generated .16 NEP per rushing play against Miami in the first two games of this early season. NEP measures the amount of expected points a player (or a team collectively) adds or subtracts based on the yards they gain and lose over the course of a game.

To put .16 NEP per rush into perspective, if a player carried the ball more than 20 times with that NEP production in the first two games of this season, he’d rank fourth in the league. Positive rushing NEP is tough to come by, because running backs are less likely to gain big chunks of yards that help boost this value.

So if the Falcons avoid the fairly impressive Miami pass defense, and choose instead to run the ball, there’s the possibility that one of the Atlanta running backs might be able to do something with the football.

Jason Snelling

Snelling is the veteran option of the pair, and he has a seven-year career stat line that reads like a Ray Rice season. He’s carried for 1,325 yards and eight touchdowns over the course of his NFL career, spent entirely in Atlanta.

He’s bigger than Rodgers by about five inches of height and 40 pounds, and definitely has a more bruising running style. So he’s going to get goal line carries, right? That makes him the obvious choice, right?

Not necessarily.

Since 2009, Snelling has carried the ball less and less, culminating in a disappointing 18 carries in 2012. He’s clearly been passed by Rodgers on the depth chart, and he’s unlikely to get enough touches to be fantasy relevant.

If you play in some weird touchdown-only league, Snelling might be a good option, but otherwise it doesn’t seem like he’s set up to get the ball often enough to be relevant to fantasy owners.

Jacquizz Rodgers

So that brings us to Rodgers, who showed on Sunday that he’s the preferred back to fill-in for Steven Jackson, even if Snelling steals the touchdowns.

Rodgers has played 20 snaps more than Snelling so far this season, and that comes down to the faith the Falcons have in Rodgers to protect Matt Ryan. Rodgers has been great in pass protection.

No, you don’t get any points for pass protection. But as we’ve seen with Knowshon Moreno, a reliable runner who protects his quarterback gets on the field, stays on the field, and scores fantasy points.

But Rodgers doesn’t just protect Matt Ryan. Sometimes, he catches passes from him as well.

Rodgers had a better receiving NEP per target than Snelling over the last two seasons, proving that Rodgers does more with the ball when it’s thrown his way. Last season, Jacquizz hauled in 53 passes on 58 targets, so he’s a reliable back in the passing game.

Admittedly, Rodgers hasn’t had great success on the ground so far this year, getting just over a yard per carry. But take away the 50-yard run from Steven Jackson during Week 1, and he would be in the same range on a yards per carry basis.

In other words, the Atlanta running game isn’t conducive to huge fantasy scoring. But being an Atlanta running back means being a part of a very good passing offense.

Because of that, you want the more dynamic athlete who protects his quarterback and has overtaken a veteran as the obvious backup running back in town.

You should get with Quizz, because Quizz is where it’s at.