Since the decision for Maurice Jones-Drew to become the featured back in Jacksonville was made, MJD’s fantasy value has taken a huge boost.
Behind Fred Taylor in the depth Chart MJD has been a No. 2 or No.3 option on most fantasy rosters.
Now that he is the featured back in Jacksonville. He has moved to a solid first round pick. MJD is projected to go any were from No. 2 overall to No. 5 in most fantasy drafts this year.
Last season Maurice Jones-Drew totaled 1,389 yards and 14 touchdowns. MJD had 824 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns. He also had 62 receptions for 565 yards and 2 touchdowns.
MJD managed to put up those numbers not only behind Fred Taylor on the depth chart. Also the Jaguars offensive line was decimated with injuries.
Last season, both starting guards, Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams, were injured in week one and missed the rest of the ’08 season.
Center Brad Meester also missed six games during the season as well.
During the offseason the Jags were dedicated to improving their O-Line. They signed free agent Tra Thomas. Their first two drafts picks were OT Eugene Monroe, and OT Eben Britton.
Jones-Drew has never had less than 1,100 total yards and 9 touchdowns in a season.
The biggest question for MJD this season is can he carry the load of the rushing game in Jacksonville.
Let's take a look at all of the games from last year that he had 15-plus carries:
The first time was Week Three at Indianapolis. Last year, the Colts ranked 24th against the rush on defense. In that game, Jones-Drew had 19 carries for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Week Six was against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos' defense was ranked 27th against the rush last year. Jones-Drew carried the ball 22 times and had 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Week 11 was against the Tennessee Titans. Jones-Drew had 17 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans were ranked sixth against the rush last year.
Week 16 was against the Colts in Jacksonville. Jones-Drew had 20 carries for 90 yards but also failed to score a touchdown.
Jones-Drew also failed to score against the Ravens in Week 17 last season. He did have 23 carries and 78 yards against the defense that ranked third against the run.
Even though there are still questions with MJD, he has a lot of upside. He is a small, fast, powerful, elusive, versatile back. Much like the Eagles “Mr. everything” Brian Westbrook. However, MJD is much more durable and has only missed one game in three years with Jacksonville.
He has carried the ball an average of 176 times in his three seasons in Jacksonville.
Last season was the most with 197 attempts. He did have an all time low rushing average with only 4.2 yards per carry.
In his rookie season MJD’s average carry was 5.7 yards with 166 rushing attempts. In ’07 his average was 4.6 yards with 167 attempts.
With his new role as the featured back he should see at least 300 carries. Don’t expect the high averages in ’06 and ’07. With the upgraded line he should average around 4.2-4.5 yards a carry. He should reach around 1,300 rushing yards this season.
Jones-Drew is also a vital part in the Jaguars passing attack. Last season he caught a career high 62 receptions, and 565 yards. In ’06 he had 46 receptions for 436 yards. In ’07 MJD had 40 receptions for 407 yards.
In the ’09 season don’t look for him to repeat the 62 receptions. He still should post around 45-50 receptions, and around an additional 400 yards.
Also I project MJD to score 15-20 total touchdowns in ’09.
Some of MJD’s favorable match ups against the run are.
Week One and 15 against the Colts (ranked 24th)
Week Two against the Cardinals (ranked 16th)
Week Three and 13 against the Texans (ranked 23rd)
Week Five against the Seahawks (ranked 18th)
Week Six against the Rams (ranked 29th)
Week Nine against the Chiefs (ranked 30th)
Week 11 against the Bills (ranked 22nd)
MJD will also face the Titans, Jets, and Dolphins. Those three teams were ranked in the top 10 against the run in ’08.
Jones-Drew’s fantasy playoff schedule includes.
Week 14 Dolphins (ranked 10)
Week 15 Colts (ranked 24th)
Week 16 New England (ranked 15th)
Maurice Jones-Drew should have a very productive ’09 season. He should warrant consideration as the No. 2 overall after Adrian Peterson is taken in all drafts this year.
Matt Forte and Michael Turner will also be in the mix as the top backs taken after Adrian Peterson in most drafts this season.