|MJD - Past & Future||Tweet|
|Written by Steve Braun|
|Friday, 14 December 2012 08:18|
Dynasty View – Maurice Jones-Drew
At this stage of the re-draft season, trade deadlines have passed so you’re not going to be able to acquire or get rid of players via trade. Whoever in your league has MJD has stashed him on their bench in the hopes he returns this week or next. And I’m sure I don’t need to advise you to pick him up if he is somehow available on waivers. So this week’s column will be geared to keeper and dynasty leaguers but I will include reference to the next two weeks.
Maurice Jones-Drew is the 27 year old running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s 5-7 weighs 208 lbs and ran a 4.39 forty at the NFL Combine. Jones-Drew is an Oakland native who played high school football in Concord, CA. He played running back, linebacker and also returned kicks and punts. Jones-Drew played his college ball at UCLA where he led the school in rushing all three seasons he played. He also proved to be a threat catching passes and as a returner. He set the NCAA record for punt return average in a season, and his career average still ranks second in NCAA history. Jones-Drew also set several school records including overall career yards. Here are his college numbers:
Despite Jones-Drew’s impressive college statistics, all 32 teams passed on him in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft. Teams felt he wasn’t tall enough to be a successful every-down back. Eventually the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the second round, 60th overall. In his first year with the Jags Jones-Drew started out returning kicks and soon established himself as the third down RB behind Fred Taylor. Late in the year he set the franchise record for rushing yards and all purpose yards in a game. He also set the team record by scoring a rushing TD in eight straight games. Jones-Drew finished his rookie season with the highest YPA in the league. He continued to share the backfield with Taylor for the next two seasons, and then in 2009 he became the primary back. He had a big year, rushing for almost 1,400 yards and 15 TD’s. He also had 375 yards receiving and was selected to the Pro Bowl. In one game he ran for a ridiculous 177 yards and two TD’s on only eight carries. He tied an NFL record by having two rushing touchdowns of 75 yards or more in the same game. In 2010 Jones-Drew played the entire season with a knee injury but still put up great numbers. Last season Jones-Drew led the entire league in rushing yards with just over 1,600. The Jaguars struggled otherwise on offense, meaning Jones-Drew accounted for nearly 50% of the entire team’s offensive yardage. Doing this when teams know you’re the only offensive option is pretty impressive. This year he suffered a foot injury in week seven and he hasn’t played since. MJD’s NFL numbers:
The 2011 pre-season was full of dire predictions for MJD; he would hold out for half a season or more, his replacement Rashad Jennings would be very successful in his absence and there would end up being a time share situation in Jacksonville when he ended his holdout or he possibly get traded, MJD would be unhappy and/or out of shape and have an average season at best. None of these scenarios transpired, MJD ended his holdout and was in the lineup week one. He played sparingly in the first half but picked up over 10 fantasy points in the second half. He had a big week three versus the Colts and a bad week five versus the Bears before getting injured early in the Oakland game week seven and didn’t play after that. If you discount the Raiders game since he barely played, he played five games – Jacksonville had a week six bye – and averaged about 15 points per game. Not bad but definitely not elite RB production.
Jones-Drew’s fantasy value is an interesting study in that his dynasty value may fluctuate dramatically between now and the start of next season. Let’s take a look at the different events/scenarios that will impact his value:
Will He Play Again This Season?
Currently Jones-Drew is listed as ‘very questionable’ to be on the field this Sunday versus the Dolphins in Miami. While he likely won’t play this week he has a realistic shot at being healthy enough to play in at least one more game this year. The question is will he? The Jaguars are out of playoff contention, so you have to wonder if it even makes sense to play Jones-Drew at all. They may decide to let him heal up and be completely healthy for 2013. The Jags remaining schedule is at Miami, home to New England and then they finish up the year at Tennessee. Both the Pats and Fins are top ten in run defense for fantasy purposes but the Titans languish near the bottom of the league. If Jones-Drew plays in week 17 and is able to shake off the rust he could be in for a big day. If that happens it will certainly cause a spike in his fantasy value as fantasy owners are reminded of what he’s capable of. If Jones-Drew sits the rest of the year he may remain ‘out of sight out of mind’ with owners and his value will be lower.
2013 NFL Draft
The Jaguars look to be in line for a top five pick in the draft. The question is how will they use that pick? In 2011 they drafted Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall pick to be their franchise quarterback. They installed Gabbert as the starter right away and his performance has been underwhelming to put it mildly. Before he got injured in week seven there were questions about whether or not Gabbert could be the number one guy. Even though he is signed under his rookie contract through 2014, could the Jags be ready to turn the page on the Gabbert era, short as it’s been? Some early mock drafts (Yes they’ve started ALREADY!) have the Jags going for help on defense. That’s understandable since they are ranked near the bottom of the league. But last year they selected Justin Blackmon with their top pick, a wide receiver with a ton of talent and upside. This year they found a diamond on the rough in the form of Cecil Shorts. If Jacksonville could put a quality QB on the field with these two it would go a long way towards making their offense respectable at least and dangerous at best. Their current starter is Chad Henne, a journeyman who is certainly not a long-term option although he is a serviceable stop-gap for 2013 while they hunt for Gabbert’s replacement. Or they may draft defense, stay with Gabbert next season and hope he improves. A better defense would certainly take some pressure off the young signal caller. The wildcard in this, and where Jones-Drew’s fantasy value could be affected, is if the Jags draft a running back with an early pick. It certainly doesn’t look like there will be a running back to draft with their first pick, but this season has shown the team that besides MJD they have next to nothing in the backfield. Rashad Jennings was given a golden opportunity to prove the pre season prognosticators right when they were talking about him being talented enough to share the backfield with Jones-Drew if not win the job outright. All Jennings proved was that he is not ready for prime time. Their other backs are not starting options over the long haul either. Assuming the Jags draft defense with their first pick, this should raise Jones-Drew’s fantasy value as he will once again be the primary focus on the offense. If they draft a quality QB MJD’s value takes a bit of a hit because there will be more focus on the passing game. If the Jags draft a running back in the second round, or somehow in the first round, then Jones-Drew’s value takes a bigger hit as the assumption will be they drafted MJD’s replacement.
2013 Pre Season
This is where things could get interesting. Jones-Drew has one more year on his current contract. Last pre season he held out, feeling he is worth much more than the $4.45 million he was slated to earn in 2012. His contract for 2013 is worth closer to $5 million but does Jones-Drew still think he’s worth more? Probably. If he had not gotten injured and instead put up big numbers, it’s almost certain he would have held out again if for no other reason than to skip the pre season grind. There’s no reason to think Jags management would entertain re-negotiating his contract this season if they wouldn’t do it last year when he was coming off a career year. The team didn’t win even when he was leading the league in rushing and they didn’t win when he mostly wasn’t playing this season. If Jones-Drew reports to camp on time and a new contract isn’t even mentioned, it will cause his fantasy value to go up. I suspect during the off season it will at least be mentioned, certainly by the media but maybe by Jones-Drew himself, about the possibility of holding out again. I don’t think when he is asked the question that he will confirm he will report to camp. The uncertainty will lower his fantasy value, and this could be where you might be able to take advantage. In 2012 he showed that other than a bit of rust he was no worse for wear from missing training camp. If he shows up at camp and looks good his fantasy value will go up fairly quickly I would think although many fantasy owners, and many fantasy writers, have a short-term memory and are enamored by the latest flavor of the week. If he does hold out I don’t think it will be for the entire pre- season as he will be playing for a new contract, likely elsewhere, and will want to impress in 2013. Either way the focus on him possibly holding out is the best chance to get Jones-Drew at less than what he’s worth.
My personal opinion is that Maurice Jones-Drew will be a top ten fantasy RB in 2013 and for at least another season after that. He’s shown he can perform at a high level regardless of the quality of the team around him. Other than this season he’s been healthy, never missing more than 2 games in a season and playing in all 16 games in four of the six seasons prior to 2012. He almost certainly will be playing in Jacksonville in 2013, with very little to threaten his primary back status barring the unlikelihood the Jags draft a running back in the first round or otherwise acquire one in the off season. As for when to buy or sell as a fantasy owner that is difficult to say, but most likely he will be undervalued at least until training camp. If you are looking to trade Jones-Drew the best time would be as soon as possible after the last game of the season if he plays and shreds the Titan’s porous run D. If you’re looking to acquire MJD via trade the best time as mentioned is probably anytime prior to the start of 2013 camp, depending on the level of holdout rhetoric in the press.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 16 December 2012 08:09|