Overview: An absolute workhorse who keeps his team in games, Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for six consecutive 100-yard games, including a 186-yard performance against the Tennessee Titans in 2010. The Jaguars running back averaged the most attempts per game, 21.4, of all running backs last season. His 94.6 yards per game were second best among running backs in 2010 and highest of his career. When Jones-Drew’s production seemed to be at its peak, a torn meniscus sidelined him for the final two weeks of the season.
2010 numbers: 299 carries, 1,324 yards, 5 TDs; 34 receptions, 317 yards, 2 TDs
Key Stats and Trends: Jones-Drew earned 712 of his 1,324 yards running up the middle and through the teeth of defenses. Fantasy owners in reception leagues took a hit from MJD as his receptions, receiving yards and receiving yards per game were the lowest of his five-year career.
Strengths: Jones-Drew has a dangerous combination of speed, power and elusiveness matched with a grinder’s work ethic to match his agonizing workload. The two-time Pro Bowl selection does not disappear when the Jaguars fall behind in games. When his team was behind 8 points or less in 2010, Jones-Drew produced, racking up 374 yards on 86 attempts.
Weaknesses: Jones-Drew had surgery to repair his torn meniscus in his right knee last January. The surgery was well deserved as MJD played through 2010 with his bone-on-bone knee problem that could not absorb the physical toll of constant cutting, planting and shifting weight any longer. His perseverance for fantasy owners last season could backfire if his knee degenerates further this year despite a grueling rehab that has Jones-Drew slated to play Week 1.
Backup running back Rashad Jennings should take away some of Jones-Drew’s workload to protect him from further punishment. Jennings rushed for 459 yards on only 84 carries including a 108-yard performance for the Jags following Jones-Drew’s injury.
Bold prediction for 2011: Fantasy owners will see Jones-Drew’s carries per game drop from 21.4 to around 17 in 2011, but his fresh legs and shared attack with Rashad Jennings should land Jones-Drew another 1,000-yard season and six touchdowns despite 60 to 70 fewer carries.