Why We Like Him: MJD finally steps into the starting role after spending the first three years of his career in Fred Taylor’s shadow. Despite splitting carries and running behind an awful Jacksonville offensive line, Jones-Drew managed to finish the 2008 season as a top ten fantasy running back.
A shifty runner who is dangerous in open space, MJD’s talent lies in his ability to make plays in the Jaguars’ passing game. He led all running backs last season in receiving yards (565), finished second in receptions (62) and third in targets (75).
The Jaguars' bulked up their offensive line on draft weekend by using their first two picks on offensive tackles Eugene Monroe (Virginia) and Eben Britton (Arizona).
Why We Don’t Like Him: Can he handle the workload? Jones-Drew has terrorized defenses the last three seasons in his complementary role, but now that he is “the man” in Jacksonville, fantasy owners need to know if he can live up to expectations.
A red flag we noticed while studying film was MJD’s fourth quarter production.
He averaged only 3.6 yards per carry in the fourth quarter last season, his lowest total for any quarter (4.0 first, 4.6 second, 4.2 third). If he struggled down the stretch in a committee arrangement last year, he may have some trouble getting it done on his own.
Fantasy Outlook: The Jaguars offense should find more success moving the football in 2009 and MJD should be a big part of it. The upgrades on the offensive line as well as the addition of free agent wide receiver Torry Holt will take some of the pressure off of quarterback David Garrard’s shoulders and allow him more flexibility in the passing game.
Think of MJD as a Brian Westbrook-type running back on a less-impressive offense. Consider him a top-five draft pick, but be sure to check back with us as we monitor his second half production early in the season.
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