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And the No. 1 pick is … Jones-Drew! Huh?

And the No. 1 Pick Is Maurice-Jones Drew! Huh?

That’s right, ladies and germs, the human bowling ball himself, Maurice Jones-Drew, should and will be your consensus No. 1 pick for the upcoming fantasy football season once you are finished reading this article. Call me crazy, laugh it up like you did when you clicked this link, but I guarantee you will regret doubting me at the end of the 2010 NFL season. Hell, Jones-Drew isn’t even in the conversation for the top pick according to all the so-called “experts.” That title belongs to either Chris “4.24” Johnson or

Adrian
“All Day” Peterson. I’m sure you could even find a few people out there that wouldn’t draft Jones-Drew in the top three picks this season. It is what it is, but no more small talk. It’s time to let the facts speak for themselves.

Why Jones-Drew?

Big things come in small packages. No but seriously, minus the fact Jones-Drew is one of the most exciting and versatile runningbacks in the game today there are numerous reasons why you should make him your No. 1 pick this season. First things first, durability! It can’t be understated nor should it. Number 32 is always on the field and is as tough as they come in the league. A guy on the bench due to injury does nothing but add a big fat zero to your weekly score, and if you are drafting a guy No. 1 you better be damn sure he is going to be on the field for as many snaps as possible.


Jacksonville
’s offensive line is also a year older and wiser heading into 2010. Last year they started two rookies in the trenches and Jones-Drew was still capable of putting up 1,391 yards and 16 total touchdowns. You’ll be hard pressed to find any runningback capable of doing such a fine job under those circumstances, but the little man was able to put up top-notch numbers. They’ll go up even more this season as the young offensive line continues to improve and grow as a unit.

Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and coaching for his life this season. You don’t think he is going to use his best player like never before and give him as many touches as possible? He is going to continue to give that ball to Jones-Drew until the wheels fall off. I wouldn’t be shocked if Jones-Drew took the rock three straight times on first down numerous times this season just so David Garrard doesn’t have to overthrow another wide receiver. Speaking of Garrard, I’m pretty sure he led the NFL in redzone turnovers last year, another interesting stat which will for sure have Jaguars’ personnel questioning whether to let Garrard wing it in the redzone or put their faith in the always reliable Jones-Drew. This opens up the door for a career year for Jones-Drew. The kind of career year that warrants No. 1 pick status.

Ask yourself this question … out of the Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings, which team is least likely to have a playoff spot or division title already locked up by season’s end? If you didn’t say

Jacksonville
you might as well stop reading this article now. When you are spending the No. 1 pick on a guy you want to be sure he will be suiting it up during playoff time, aka ‘chedda’ time! If the Titans or Vikings have locked up their playoff seeds and have nothing to play for the last few weeks of the season, what good are Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson to you? Hand-in-hand with this is strength of schedule down the stretch. Even if those two guys are playing, based off of last year’s numbers, Jones-Drew will sport the easiest playoff schedule when compared with Johnson and Peterson. Johnson is a close second with Peterson easily sporting the toughest schedule come crunch time.

Intermission

Take a deep breathe, go to the bathroom or grab a snack if you wish, because if that wasn’t enough to at least intrigue you and get the wheels spinning, I will now proceed to deliver the knockout blow and tell you why you shouldn’t draft Johnson or Peterson if you have the No. 1 pick.

Why NOT 424?

Yes, the fastest man on the planet had an earth-shaking season last year rushing for more than 2,000 yards. Sadly, I’m here to report he won’t repeat that performance or even come close to it. There is only one simple word to explain why you shouldn’t draft Johnson with the No. 1 pick this year: history. Here’s a look at the following season of every single 2,000-yard rusher in NFL history. Warning: it isn’t pretty!

OJ Simpson 1,125 yards, 4 TD
Eric Dickerson 1,234 yards, 12 TD
Barry Sanders 1,494 yards, 4 TD
Terrell Davis 211 yards, 2 TD
Jamal Lewis 1,327 yards, 7 TD

I had trouble finding a No. 1 pick in any of those stat lines; how about you? Of course, there is always someone who comes along and destroys a historical trend, but with this one I’ll stick with history and the wear-and-tear a 2,000-yard season places on a runningback.

Why NOT Peterson?

What’s not to like? He scores touchdowns, busts long runs and always has that huge 400-yard game or something crazy like that. I’ll tell you exactly what isn’t to like: his declining yards per carry. I’m not sure what it means (if anything) but it is something that is extremely alarming to me as an owner. Peterson’s yards per carry has declined every season he has been in the NFL. Last year it was 4.4 which is completely fine, but what if it stumbles to 4.0 this season? That’s not exactly top-notch and screaming No. 1 pick. Is it?

That alone isn’t enough of a case to warrant not drafting this guy with the first pick in your draft, obviously, and I would rank him No. 2 overall in my book but the fumbles need to stop. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will and it will always be a problem for Peterson. Twenty fumbles in three seasons is not protecting the football, and if he goes through a bad stretch where he is coughing the ball up, then he will lose touches. Like I said above, you need your No. 1 pick to be on the field for as many touches as possible and if a case of ‘fumblitis’ knocks into those touches it could ultimately cost you points or even a victory. We have all been playing this game long enough to know how critical a few points, or one more victory can be in a fantasy season. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that drafted Peterson only to have a lousy fumble cost me a shot at a championship.

Peterson last year also seemed to melt down like Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot in the last half of the season. Maybe this goes hand in hand with the YPC, maybe it doesn’t, but it is food for thought. In his last seven games last year, Peterson didn’t have one game where he ran for more than 100 yards. Not one! Doesn’t exactly scream No. 1 pick to me. And to go even further into it, in the last quarter of the season he only rushed for 245 yards. Ouch! To make matters even worse Peterson sports the toughest playoff schedule among the three running backs we’ve discussed heading into 2010 (New York Giants, Chicago, @ Philadelphia). Double ouch!

Lock It Up

In closing, Jones-Drew clearly is the guy you want to roll with when using the top pick in your upcoming fantasy draft. He is consistently amazing, and in only his second full year as the starter he will improve drastically on last year’s numbers. Simply put, his ceiling is very high. Johnson will meet history this year and will regress dramatically from the spectacle he put on last season. Peterson will get his numbers and he’ll have that one huge week for you, but down the stretch he will fade along with your championship dreams. If your league allows for it, you could even trade down your No. 1 pick, still snag Jones-Drew, and garner even better drafting position at some point later in the draft. Whatever floats your boat, but I am pleading with you to roll the dice on draft day and make No. 32 your beverage of choice. He’ll go down smooth, I promise. Your buddies will laugh at you and make joke after joke, but when you are the one scooping the cash money you’ll think back to this article and smile.

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.