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M-J-D is N-O-T Worth It

Jones-Drew entered the league in 2006 and was drafted to be the complement to Fred Taylor, who had one of his worst seasons in a long time in 2005. MJD paid dividends right out of the gate putting up over 1,400 total yards and 15 touchdowns, while

Jacksonville quickly became one of the best running teams in football. The success continued and coming into this year, Jones-Drew has just under 4,000 total yards in his career, which is enough for many owners to be sold on the fact that the good times will keep on rolling.

However, let’s not underestimate the impact that will be felt simply from

Taylor leaving town. This will be Jones-Drew’s first season as the feature back in the

Jacksonville offense, and while some players thrive when given the keys to the car, MJD will not. In his career, Jones-Drew has never carried the ball more than 200 times in a season. Even worse, whereas MJD was lucky enough to serve as a complement to

Taylor, he is not lucky enough to have decent options on the sideline to spell him. Aside from rookie running back Rashad Jennings, who is mediocre at best, the best back on the roster is fullback Greg Jones. Therefore, coach Jack Del Rio has no choice but to hand Jones-Drew the ball almost 300 times in 2009 and you can bet that he is going to hit a wall before season’s end. That spells bad news for fantasy owners who are most likely going to be counting on him for vital points in playoff weeks.

It is always tough for any runner who has never seen that many carries to make it through a full NFL season without issue. Michael Turner seemingly proved that theory wrong in

Atlanta last year when he carried the ball 376 times. Before that, his highest single-season carry total was 80. However, the same results cannot be expected in

Jacksonville. Turner held up so well because he only had six catches last year, and more importantly he stands at 5-foot-10 and 256 pounds. If Jones-Drew keeps his receptions at a baseline level of 40 this season, he will probably have around 350 touches altogether. The big difference is that Jones-Drew is built on a 5-foot-7 and 208-pound frame. While he is stocky and has a low center of gravity, the beating that he will take over the course of the season is much rougher than that faced by Turner last year. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if MJD is forced to miss several games this year due to the fact that his body just won’t hold up.

Even if you do think that he can handle the increase in touches and that his size is not something that is working against him, you cannot argue with one other thing, and that is the fact that over the course of the past three years, his yards-per-carry have decreased each season. On top of that, not only were his yards-per-carry at a career low in 2008, but so were his yards-per-catch. Whenever an athlete’s (especially a running back’s) numbers steadily decline, people start questioning things. However, for some reason, Jones-Drew has been immune to this, and most people just ignore the fact that his numbers keep on going downhill. I’m aware that it is only going to be his fourth year in the NFL so his body is not as worn as some, but we have seen other players with shorter tenures in the league fall to the wayside.

While I don’t think that Jones-Drew is going to have a completely awful season, in no way do I believe that he is worth even the fourth overall pick, let alone the first. He is still an enticing early option in PPR leagues, but if you are in a non-PPR league, let someone else take MJD. His increase in touches, in combination with his lack of size and consistently decreasing numbers have me avoiding him like a vendor on the street selling discolored hot dogs unless I can get him late in the first round (which will not happen). At best, I see him putting up 1,200 total yards and nine touchdowns in 2009, which puts him behind several other players that have a first-round ADP and will deliver results.

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