Editor’s note: I am very pleased to introduce our new fantasy football expert, Adam McGill, to the Black&Teal faithful out there. Adam is the editor and co-creator of FantasyFootballMastermindz.com, so head over there to get in depth analysis league-wide and give those guys some support. He will be discussing a very hot topic for you fantasy knuckleheads out there – the heated debate over whether or not our own Maurice Jones-Drew is still a top fantasy option. Enjoy and everyone welcome Adam to the crew!
As the regular season draws nearer, that means it’s time to start crunching and do some research for the biggest event of the year in your fantasy league – the annual draft. In most of the mock drafts released this summer, Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew is being picked around 11th overall, and is even being picked as low as 16th overall in some mocks (on a site that rhymes with Wahoo!). He has been rapidly falling out of the top tier of fantasy running backs, a fact that’s hard to swallow, as consistent as he’s been at a perennially thin position. It’s almost unfathomable to think that MJD could ever be viewed as a sleeper, but apparently this is the year.
Some of the players that are commonly being ranked ahead of him include: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Ray Rice.
Jamaal Charles is undersized at 199 pounds, and doesn’t even get goal-line carries. Charles also said publicly that he doesn’t even like the sport of football, which does not bode well for those in search of a long term keeper.
LeSean McCoy is an outstanding receiver out of the backfield, but he isn’t a powerful runner inside the tackles. McCoy also has to compete with Ronnie Brown, DeSean Jackson, and of course Michael Vick for touches in the Eagles’ oversaturated offense.
Ray Rice only had six total touchdowns in 2010, and the off-season signing of running back Ricky Williams will certainly cut into his carries down the stretch, as the Ravens try to keep him fresh for late season football.
MJD did tear the meniscus in his right knee before the 2010 season started, but he still managed to play in the first 14 games of the season and had a respectable campaign working before the injury became too painful to play through anymore and he was put on IR for weeks 16 and 17. He has yet to play a preseason game this season, but this is a simple case of the Jack Del Rio being careful with his franchise back. Jones-Drew will be plenty ready for the start of the regular season, but this “injury” concern has caused his draft value to slip considerably.
Jones-Drew has still scored an amazing 37 touchdowns in his last 46 games, which ties him with Chris Johnson’s total, and is only bettered by Adrian Peterson’s 40 touchdowns. 2010 did prove to be a down year for the two-time Pro Bowl back, as he had a career-low 7 touchdowns, but he still managed to finish fifth in the NFL in yardage, with 1,324 rushing yards. Jones-Drew is a monster inside the twenties, and in fantasy football, touchdowns make the world go round.
The 26-year old remains one of the most dynamic backs in the game when healthy, and he has averaged 47 receptions per season out of the backfield. His versatility makes him the perfect fantasy player, especially in Point Per Reception (P.P.R.) leagues. The team will rely on him even more with the loss of receiver Mike Sims-Walker, and MJD can easily catch upwards of 50 balls in 2011.
The Jags have built their offense around his powerful downhill running style, and “Mojo” is one of the only full-time backs left in the business. Rashard Jennings (when healthy) has been getting carries this preseason with the veteran sidelined, but the job is still Jones-Drew’s to lose. Jennings may vulture some goal-line carries from the All-Pro, but MJD is too powerful of a runner to keep off the field in the Red Zone. Jennings is a great handcuff for MJD owners in the later rounds of drafts, but he is not an essential one.
Jones-Drew is becoming a great value pick for people at the end of the first round, and can easily lead your running back stable. He will be back amongst the leaders in touchdowns this season, and he will certainly have his “MoJo” back.
– Adam McGill