Usually at this time of year, I make an effort to stop by a convenience store to grab a few of the fantasy football preview magazines put out by Lindy’s, CBS, etc. This year, those publications have been put on hold due to the fact that free agency has yet to happen. And yet another industry is crushed by the lockout.
Though fantasy football is on the backburner until a new labor deal is reached, we are still free to speculate on the short-term futures of veteran players who will either help or hurt fantasy rosters in 2011 and beyond.
Is Maurice Jones-Drew in the “hurt” category? MoJo is only 26 years old and has only five seasons under his belt, but there’s a belief that he might have already peaked.
“[Maurice Jones-Drew’s] career to date has been impeccable. I am very high on him, but I do fear that we are seeing the very first stages of his inevitable demise. Running backs don’t last long in this league.”
Jones-Drew’s production dipped last year, mainly due to the fact that he was dealing with a torn meniscus throughout the season. He missed the last two games of 2010 before undergoing arthroscopic surgery in January. Few believed he’d have the ability to become an every-down back when Jones-Drew came into the league as a second-round pick in 2006, and yet he’s smashed expectations thus far.
Still, he’s not a big dude, he’s coming off a big-time knee problem and he plays a position that is changing quickly. The majority of NFL backfields operate in platoon fashion, and it looks as though Jacksonville is leaning in that direction.
“I can still carry the load regardless of what surgery I had or whatnot,” Jones-Drew said. “They’re going to be kind of anxious to throw Rashad [Jennings] in, and they’re already kind of scared of my knee. … I want to be able to be out the gates playing because it’s a production-based business. They’re already skeptical maybe it’s his knee, maybe we’re working him too hard, we should give him a break.”
So Jones-Drew acknowledges that the team has concerns about the knee and that backup Rashad Jennings could be given more reps in the short- and long-term future. And just yesterday, John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote that Jennings “could see more carries in an effort to ease the burden” on Jones-Drew.
Small running backs have short shelf lives, and while Jones-Drew was still able to finish fifth in the league in rushing yards despite missing two games in 2010, you have to wonder if, at 26, his best days are already behind him.