MJD-smoke2

I want to be overjoyed here about something newsy we’ve seen coming for a while. But truthfully, we’re all really seeing some potentially fine value on a top running back slip away.

Maurice Jones-Drew has been medically cleared for training camp, a development that’s been expected for a few weeks, and one that mercifully completes his recovery from a Lisfranc injury which required surgery in January. That’s a scary injury, and it’s especially devastating for running backs. But with his clearance, you can now begin to see visions of the old, one cut and go Jones-Drew that we saw just one year ago when he rushed for a career high 1,606 yards.

The problem? Everyone else is having that same blissful vision, and much like Robert Griffin III’s ADP after his own wonderful medical news yesterday, the price you’ll pay for MJD’s services will rise abruptly.

Currently in leagues drafting early, Jones-Drew is typically a late second-round pick, as he’s being selected at 20.0 in CBS leagues, Fantasy Football Calculator has him at 18.7, and he drops down to 26.7 in ESPN leagues. For a few weeks those modest prices for an RB1 will likely linger, because degenerate minds are stubborn to the point of being downright scared. The Jaguars will help this cause by easing Jones-Drew along, and giving him limited touches in preseason games (if he plays at all).

But eventually, there will be a collective shoulder shrug, and we’ll all remember Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles doing pretty special things last year after their recoveries from far more serious injuries. When that euphoric moment happens, so will the Jones-Drew ADP kaboom.

At the age of 28, he still has a few prime years left. He’s also in a contract year, and it’s been scientifically proven that money can motivate a man. Justin Blackmon is out, and the Jaguars’ starting quarterbacks are set to once again produce a unique kind of stink (Chad Henne is slightly less awful than Blaine Gabbert). The result of all that will be a whole lot of touches immediately for Jones-Drew, and a season when he hovers around 300 carries. Between 2009 and 2011 he averaged 361 touches overall, which he turned into an average of 1,795 yards from scrimmage. Yep.

By the end of August, he’ll likely/almost surely be a late first-round pick, meaning this is another rare time when drafting early has provided a sweet little bargain.