.
Obviously the NFL season, assuming there will be one, is a long time away. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have football on your mind, especially those of you in keeper leagues. While you’re deciding who to keep or while you are entertaining trade proposals, there is a trio of running backs that have recently announced that they are healthy and preparing for the upcoming season. 
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Ahmad Bradshaw
, who had his ankle scoped, is healthy and has his burst back. He told Zach Berman that he can “fly” after the procedure. He’s still an injury risk heading into the season, but his owners can rest a little easier. Bradshaw had 1549 total yards (1235 rushing) and eight touchdowns.
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Jahvid Best also has his burst back now that his turf toe has had time to heal. He’s been working at Nike Camp to get ready for the season. He’s hungry, tweeting “Someone please end this madness… I’m ready to go back to WORK!” Best got off to fast start scoring five touchdowns in the first two weeks before the injuries hit. He was never quite the same. If he can avoid the injury bug, he is explosive enough to play like a top 15 fantasy running back. Best finished with 1042 total yards (555 rushing) and six touchdowns (four rushing).
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Maurice Jones-Drew is ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery. Mojo scared some owners off because of the knee injury last year, but he was able to play through it and pile up 1641 total yards (1324 rushing) and seven touchdowns (five rushing). Mojo should be a nice value pick next year going after the likes of Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Michael Turner.


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

The job of backup RB for the Jaguars was a lot like being the backup Vikings QB last year. There was not a lot of activity after Maurice Jones-Drew (312 carries) and David Garrard (77 carries) had their say. After the 363 touches that MoJo endured last year, one would imagine that the Jags would like to reduce his workload some in 2010.

 

That should play right into the hands of Rashard Jennings, a 6’1, 235 lb second year back. Jennings did not get a lot of work last year, but made the most of his opportunities by running for 5.2 yards per carry (39 carries for 202 yards). He also caught 16 passes for 101 yards and had a rushing TD.

 

Jennings will get some competition from rookie Deji Karim, but Karim is probably better suited for third-down duty at 5’9″, 209 lbs. Karim has blazing 4.37 speed and should serve as a change of pace back. Jennings would be more suited to carry the load if MJD went down. Even though MoJo is basically a sure thing at the stripe, Jennings could steal some of his short TDs.

 

Jennings has an ADP of 256 according to Mock Draft Central, which puts him as the fourth pick in the 22nd round, meaning he’s likely to go undrafted in most fantasy leagues. While I wouldn’t recommend stashing him on your bench, I would suggest keeping an eye on Jennings to see what kind of playing time he’s getting.  If nothing else he should get more work in than last year.

 

Prediction:  500 total yards (375 rushing), 4 TDs

 

What do you expect from Rashad Jennings?

 

Click here to enter the Best Fantasy Football Team Name Contest for a chance to win some fabulous prizes.

The Jaguars could have the steepest drop-off from their top fantasy option to their other options.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Jags take on the Raiders (home), Colts (away), and Redskins (home). The schedule looks very promising for Maurice Jones-Drew. The passing game could really struggle though.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Maurice Jones-Drew – Mojo had no problem assuming the role as primary ball carrier with Fred Taylor moving on to New England. He had 1765 total yards (1391 rushing) and 16 TDs (15 rushing). There is a case to take him #1 overall with Chris Johnson’s potential holdout and Adrian Peterson’s fumbling issues.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Mike Sims-Walker – Sims-Walker had a solid season with 63 catches for 869 yards and 7 TDs. He has good size and speed, but will need help, be it from his receiver mates or creative play calling, to keep him effective. He failed to top 64 yards the final six games. In fact, he only had 175 yards in those games (29.2 ypg).

 

Marcedes Lewis – Lewis had an excellent yard per catch average (16.2). Still, with 518 yards last year he makes for a solid backup fantasy TE.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
David Garrard – Garrard is simply not a good fantasy QB. His career highs in passing yards (3620) and TDs (18) just don’t translate into a quality fantasy QB. He has ran for 300+ yards in each of the past two seasons, but there is zero upside to Garrard. His home-road splits are ridiculous. 
- Home:  2019 yards, 12 TD,  5 INTs
- Away:  1578 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs

 

Mike Thomas – Thomas showed some flashes last year, and while he managed at least 52 yards on six occasions, he never topped 65 yards. Plus, he had just 1 TD.

 

Jaguars Defense/Special Teams – They have some good match-ups with Buffalo (Week 5), Kansas City (7), Cleveland (11), and Oakland (14). They had just 14 sacks and 15 INTs last year though. They are no more than a spot start.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

So Michael Vick will be able to play in Week 3, which seems like an adequate punishment considering the amount of time he already lost.  I’m not going to say money too, because if he didn’t break the law, he’d still be rolling in the dough.  I’m not going to pity someone for their own stupidity.  Vick has been a trendy last round pick in fantasy drafts.  If you’re just taking him for laughs and plan on dropping him for a Kicker, which to me is what the last round of fantasy drafts are reserved for, then I’m on board with you.  If you’re holding out hope that he’s going to make a fantasy impact this year, let me remind you that he barely had fantasy value when he was at the height of his career.  He’s not going to run for a ton of yards, which is what game him value.  He’s certainly not going to throw for a lot.  You’re basically hoping for some rushing TDs.  Unless he gains RB or WR eligibility in your fantasy league, he’s not even useful as a flex player.

David Clowney had a nice game for the Jets with 108 receiving yards, thanks to a 73-yard TD.  He’ll still be the Jets #3 WR so don’t get too excited.  Danny Woodhead had 158 yards on 18 carries (8.8 ypc) with 2 TDs.  Get in line though Woodhead.  The Jets are loaded at RB.

Maurice Jones-Drew left the Jags’ preseason game against Washington with a leg injury.  My question is why is your starting RB and best weapon even playing in the final preseason game?  Come on Del Rio.  You’re better than that.

It used to be all that Chris Henry did was get in trouble.  He’s seemed to put that nonsense behind him.  Now all he does is catch TDs.  Maybe he can give Pacman or Brandon Marshall a call.  Scratch that, Pacman is a lost cause.

Hakeem Nicks was a big play thread again with a 64-yard TD.  He’s left with a hip injury.  Hopefully it’s not serious.  Sinorice Moss must have felt the heat as he turned in a strong performance with 2 catches for 35 yards.  Both of his receptions were TDs. 

Benjarvus Green-Ellis made his case for a role in the Patriots rushing attack with 125 yards on 29 carries with 3 TDs.  He showed some versatily with four catches for 22 yards.  Sammy Morris could be the odd man out.

Vince Young played well again.  He’s not likely to take Kerry Collins job barring injury, but I’d like to see him get his life and career back on track.

Steve Slaton owners must have lost some of their swagger when they heard today’s news.  Turns out Chris Brown is taking over the goal line duties.  He’ll still get a ton of yardage, and receptions for you PPR players, but if he’s not reaching paydirt, he’s not really a legit RB1.

Maurice Jones-Drew TD
Image Courtesy of Icon SMI

Maurice Jones-Drew finally gets a chance to prove that he can be an NFL feature back.  Given what he’s done in a somewhat limited role, the fantasy world is salivating at the thought of what he could do in an expanded role.  Naturally there is some risk in taking a player who has never had 200 carries in a season, but that can be viewed as a plus since he hasn’t put on a lot of mileage.  Despite his 5’7″ stature he is quite durable.  That’s because he packs 208 pounds of muscle on that frame.  He is a bowling ball with great moves and quickness.  What’s more impressive is his nose for the end zone.  Mojo has 40 TDs (34 rushing, 4 receiving, 2 return) in his three years.  He also is extremely gifted at catching the ball out of the backfield.  He has had 40+ receptions every year, including a career high 62 last year.  He should benefit greatly from a healthy Offensive Line, which was the main reason behind Jacksonville’s disappointing 2008 season.

This year Jacksonville has some nice matchups agaist Arizona in Week 2, St. Louis in Week 6, Kansas City in Week 9, and Cleveland in Week 17, which doesn’t help most fantasy owners.  His fantasy playoff schedule consists of Miami, Indianapolis, and New England, which is less than desirable.  Of course a RB with MJD’s versatility has the ability to produce against anyone.

Mo-Jo will likely go in the top three picks in most league, perhaps #1 overall in PPR leagues.  I fully expect him to meet his lofty expectations.  I’m putting him on 2000 total yards with 14 total TDs.


Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Maurice Jones Drew

It feels like fantasy owners have been waiting for Maurice Jones-Drew to become an elite fantasy running back for years.  He’s never rushed for over 1,000 yards or carried the ball more than 197 times (which he did last season), thanks to sharing carries with Fred Taylor since being drafted in the second round of 2006 out of UCLA.

Taylor is gone, now calling New England home, and Jones-Drew will finally get an opportunity to be the featured back.  In fact, his potential back-ups rushed the ball for a total of four carries last season and a whopping nine yards.  The only other back that has significant carries is Alvin Pearman, who set his career high with 39 carries back in 2005.  Needless to say, the offense is going to be on Jones-Drew’s shoulders.

At 5′7″ and just over 200 lbs., there is concern that he may not be able to handle the beating a full-time back takes, and those are fair.  He is shorter then Tiki Barber (5′10″), but we all know what Barber proved capable of doing.  Jones-Drew has shown over the past three seasons that he could make an impact, despite not carrying the ball all that often.  You cannot forget to factor in the times he received a pass.

Last season he set a career high with 62 receptions, after amassing 86 over his first two seasons.  Even if he were not to improve on that number with full-time snaps, very few backs supplement tremendous rushing ability with his type of receiving threat out of the backfield.  Only Matt Forte (63) caught more passes, with six other running backs amassing 50+ catches.  Needless to say, it’s a huge advantage.

Jones-Drew will also benefit from one of the strongest offensive lines in the game.  As well as getting back three starters back who missed at least part of last season, the team added Tra Thomas, a Pro Bowl left tackle, as a free agent signing and used their first round pick (#8 overall) on Eugene Monroe.  Adding those two pieces to an already strong line should give Jones-Drew plenty of holes to run through.

Let’s get one thing straight; Jones-Drew is a definite risk (outside of PPR leagues), especially if he’s being selected among the top two players on draft day.  He’s never had the opportunity to be the main back in the NFL so there is no telling how he is going to react.  With a career yards/carry of 4.8 to go along with a great receiving threat out of the backfield and a great line leading the way, this should be his chance to really shine, but you never know.

If asked to project out his season statistics, I would say:

Rushing – 1,275 yards, 13 TD
Receiving – 550 yards, 3 TD

That certainly equals a monster back, doesn’t it?  Still, for me, the risk doesn’t equate to the reward.  I’d much rather take an Adrian Peterson or Michael Turner with those first two picks.

What do you think?  Where would you peg his numbers for 2009?

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Steven Jackson

It feels like every season Steven Jackson enters with a lot of expectations surrounding him.  Unfortunately, injuries have helped to derail his last two years, limiting him to just 12 games in each.  That still didn’t stop him from exceeding 1,000 yards, now having done so in each of the past four years.

It’s that 2006 season that everyone hopes he can duplicate.  That year he not only rushed for 1,528 yards and 13 TD, but added 90 catches for 806 yards and 3 TD.  Those are enormous numbers, ones that are unlikely to be duplicated under any circumstance, even with him basically consisting of the entire Rams offense.

Ronald Curry (newly acquired), Keenan Burton and Donnie Avery leading the way at the wide receiver position?  New tight end Randy McMichael may be the best receiver on the team, despite having just 11 receptions in four games last season.

Keep that in mind when looking at Jackson who has proven he can be a weapon out of the backfield.  Mark Bulger is going to need to get the ball to someone and with 38+ catches each of the past two seasons there is no reason to think that Jackson is not going to be a frequent target.  Is he going to reach 90 catches again?  Unlikely, but he certainly could get to 50+ if he stays on the field, a definite boost to his value.

That’s just an added bonus, however.  What owners really need to look at is his potential performance on the ground.  This is a team that is going to need to focus on defense and ball control and with new head coach Steve Spagnuolo (the former Giants defensive coordinator) at the helm that is exactly what they are likely to do.

The team added Mike Karney as the fullback, who played the last five seasons with the New Orleans Saints.  He started 46 games while in New Orleans, helping lead the way for Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush and company and surely will help clear the way for Jackson to break off some big runs.

They also made a major change along the offensive line, having drafted Jason Smith with the #2 pick overall in the 2008 draft.  He replaces Orlando Pace, a perennial Pro Bowler, who leaves big shoes to fill.  While it’s going to be tough, Pace was 33-years old, so getting younger and more athletic could potentially help open some holes for Jackson.

The health is really the major concern.  If he can stay on the field he’s a lock to be a 1,000 yard back, no questions asked, especially when you consider that he’s never had a yards/carry of less than 4.1 (he’s at 4.3 for his career).  Throw in the fact that the rest of the offense is so weak, he could really be leaned upon and shine in the passing game, as well as given ample opportunity to find the end zone.

I would project him out at:

Rushing – 1,300 yards, 12 TD
Receiving – 425 yards, 2 TD

Those are solid numbers, right around a Top 5 or 6 option in all formats.  His talent has never been a question, just his ability to keep himself healthy.  That’s an inherent risk with almost any running back, however.  Knowing that he’s capable of posting numbers like he did in 2006 (however unlikely) certainly makes him worth the gamble in the middle of the first round.

David Garrard
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

David Garrard had a disappointing 2008 season.  Most of the team did, in fact.  Their Offensive Line was crippled with injuries.  Their Defense took a major step back.  About the only productive players was Maurice-Jones Drew.  2009 should look a little better as they bolstered their O-Line in the offseason with the addition of Tra Thomas, Eugene Monroe, and Eben Britton.  They also added Torry Holt to improve their WR play.  Maurice Jones-Drew is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and Marcedes Lewis is a solid pass-catching TE. 

Jacksonville’s fantasy playoff schedule consists of Miami, Indianapolis, and New England so it’s unlikely you’ll use Garrad in the fantasy playoffs.  During the season they have some decent matchups against Arizona in Week 2, St. Louis in Week 6, and Kansas City in Week 9.  Peyton Manning and Tony Romo have byes in Week 6 so he could be a decent option to pair with them.  I wouldn’t trust any of the Week 9 bye teams as a #1 QB so it doesn’t pay to pair Garrard with them.

This is my preseason top ten.

Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

adrian-peterson
1.  Adrian Peterson – All Day led the league in rushing and scored double-digit TDs again.  Sure, the loss of Matt Birk will hurt, but Peterson shouldn’t miss a beat.  He’s looking to add some muscle mass this offseason without losing any speed.  A bigger AP with the same speed and quickness.  Scary.

2.  Michael Turner – Burner Turner did not disappoint in his first shot as the feature back.  He struggled early against good defenses, but scored in seven of his last eight games.  As Matt Ryan progresses at QB, it will become more difficult to key in on Turner.

3.  Matt Forte - I love Forte’s versatility.  As a rookie he had the third most receiving yards for a Running Back.  Second if you discount Kevin Faulk, who isn’t a feature back.  He had 1715 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Even if he has a 10% Sophomore slump dip in production, he’d still be good for over 1500 total yards and 10-11 TDs.

4.  Maurice Jones-Drew – With Fred Taylor heading to New England, MJD should be huge in 2009.  He’s always good for 400+ receiving yards and double-digit TDs.  Give him 300-320 carries and you could be looking at nearly 2000 total yards and 15+ TDs.

5.  Ronnie Brown - Last year Ronnie had 214 carries to Ricky Williams’ 160.  I think the split will be even more in Ronnie’s favor next year.  With Ronnie another year removed from his knee injury, he should be closer to the 2007 back that had 991 total yards and five combined TDs in seven games.

lt
6.  LaDainian Tomlinson - LT battled through a variety of ailments last year and still managed to produce 1536 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Not only do I think he’ll be healthy in ’09, I think he will be motivated.  I don’t see pre-2008 LT, but a better version that last year’s model.

7.  Clinton Portis – CP was severely overworked last year, but he still remains on the right side of 30. I see him producing similar numbers next year, only spaced out a whole lot better.  Jim Zorn will do a better job managing Portis’ carries so he doesn’t wear down at the end of the year.

8.  Brandon Jacobs - You would think Derrick Ward’s departure to Tampa Bay would have a significant impact on Jacobs’ value.  I don’t think so.  Ahmad Bradshaw will likely pick up most of the slack. As long as Jacobs can stay healthy, there isn’t any reason he couldn’t run for 1200+ yards and scored 18+ TDs.

9.  DeAngelo Williams – You must think I’m crazy putting D-Will this low after leading all RBs in scoring last year.  I’m sorry, but I don’t see another 1700 total yards from him.  Furthermore, there is little to no chance he approaches 20 TDs again.  Jonathan Stewart played a major role last year, and I think the split will be a little closer to 50/50 this year.

10.  Steven Jackson - Steven Jackson’s strong finish (637 total yards and 4 combined TDs in his last five games) is sticking in my mind more than the most forgettable 19 games he had in 2007 and the first part of 2008.  If he can stay healthy he has a chance to leapfrog several of the guys above him.  I haven’t completely forgotten though, which is why he’s in the ten spot.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

The Jags are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in the NFL.  They, along with the Cleveland Browns, were the chic pick to get to at least the AFC title game.  Yet they finished at 5-11.

For starters the Jaguars need improved health next year, especially on their Offensive Line.  Their Left Tackle Khalif Barnes is an Unrestricted Free Agent.  He played poorly last year, and won’t likely return.  There is a good chance Charles Spencer takes over.  Center Brad Meester is also an UFA, but he may be in their plans.  Assuming Fred Taylor gives them a hometown discount, he’ll be back to compliment Maurice Jones-Drew.  I’d like to see them work another RB in the mix so he’s ready when Taylor does call it quits.  Reggie Williams took a major step back and he’s a UFA.  I could see the team going in a different direction.  Matt Jones played through the distraction of his suspension and put up solid numbers.  He could be a nice value pick next year.  TE Marcedes Lewis showed promise.  Jerry Porter is likely to be shown the door.

There aren’t too many FAs on Defense for Jacksonville.  Mike Peterson led the team in tackles, but was a major distraction.  He won’t be back.  The Jags need to get some pressure on the QB.  They were tied for 20th last year with just 29 Sacks.  Reggie Hayward’s 4.5 were good for the team lead.  Not only that, but they had the second fewest turnovers (17) in the league.  Clearly their biggest needs lie on Defense.

**Update:  Fred Taylor was cut**

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
         
RB Alvin Pearman Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
WR Reggie Williams UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
TE Charles Davis Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
OG Charles Spencer Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Khalif Barnes UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
OT Richard Collier RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
C Brad Meester UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
C Joe Zelenka UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
DL Tony McDaniel RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
LB Brian Iwuh RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
LB Mike Peterson UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
CB Scott Starks UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent

Jacksonville Jaguars Preview

3 September 2008

The Jags are coming off an excellent season that nearly ended in a trip to the Super Bowl.  The expectations are high in Northern Florida.

On Offense they are led by David Garrard, who played nearly mistake-free football last year (18 TDs to 3 INTs).  He just oozes confidence and his teammates believe in him.  He has the luxury of two dynamic Running Backs to make his life easier.  Fred Taylor is coming off a brilliant year that saw him run for 1200 yards at 5.4 per carry.  Maurice Jones-Drew is a human bowling ball that picked up nearly 1200 total yards and 9 TDs.  They truly provide a scary 1-2 punch because they both can go the distance on any given play.  Reggie Williams proved to be a TD threat with 38 catches for 629 yards and 10 TDs.  They added Troy Williamson (who’s quick as hell, but can’t catch) and Jerry Porter (whose hamstring is already acting up), but I’m not sure how much of a factor they will be.  Dennis Northcutt was solid last year (44 catches, 601 yards) and will likely catch his share of passes.  Matt “Crackman” Jones was nearly cut.    Marcedes Lewis is a nice sleeper candidate at Tight End.

On Defense the Jags excel.  Reggie Nelson and Brian Williams are an excellent pair of Safeties.  Rashean Mathis is a solid Corner.  Paul Spicer brings the heat from Defensive End.  They are looking for improved production out of Reggie Hayward as well as in impact from Rookie Derrick Harvey (who was the last first-rounder to sign).  John Henderson and Rob Meier are the Interior Lineman as Marcus Stroud has moved on to Buffalo.  At Linebacker the Jags line up Daryl Smith, MIke Peterson, and Clint Ingram.

I look for Jacksonville to take one of the Wild Card slots in the AFC.  I think they will match their 11 Win total from last year.  They have the ability to win it all, but I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game.

Fantasy-wise David Garrard is best suited to be a fantasy backup.  If you ignored the QB position and stocked up elsewhere, I can justify using him as your starter.  MJD is a worthy #2 RB because of his versatility and his TD production.  Fred Taylor is best suited as a #3 RB or a flex position starter.  I don’t like any of their wideouts, but Marcedes Lewis is a nice late pickup for a backup Tight End.  Both Jacksonville Defense and Josh Scobee are good values in the last two rounds of drafts.


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