Predicting what a player is going to do in fantasy football from year to year is starting to turn into a crap shoot. Much like trying to predict the weather next Tuesday, a player could either go off and rack up huge fantasy points, driving everyone to push him up the fantasy rankings the following year. Like we're seeing now with Maurice Jones-Drew. Or he could shit the bucket and find his value plummet. Much like we saw from Titans Chris Johnson, who not only got shit from his owners, but also from Titans fans who said he played like garbage because he finally got his big-money payday. I predict better things from Johnson, however.
Could 2012 be the year we see MJD's body finally wear down?
But I'd like to make some comments about the first guy I mentioned: Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD dealt with a pretty nasty knee injury all throughout the 2010 season. There were also some rumors that his knee was so bad, he was playing bone-on-bone. Ouch. But once again, a player left for dead in the fantasy world bounced back in a big way after MJD put up a career-high 1606 last year.
So you are probably asking yourself, "If he had such a good year last year, what makes him any less worthy of a top-5 pick?" Here are a few reasons I will pass on MJD if I find myself with the 5th or 6th overall pick in any of my drafts:
Holdout: Jones-Drew is upset about his contract. Who isn't these days. MJD falls in the running back line, along with Ray Rice and Matt Forte, as a player who feels he deserves more money. Only difference is, MJD is much more serious, in my opinion, about his holdout. Much more serious than any of the other players I just mentioned. So much so that ESPN's Adam Schefter and the Florida Times-Union both feel MJD could sit out once the regular season begins. Now a lot of this could be player speak so MJD can get leverage. But if I was an owner drafting right now, or before the start of training camp, that kind of talk will make me want to pass.
Rashad Jennings: Jennings isn't a stud like MJD, but he has all the tools to be a complete back: nice size, speed and is a decent pass catcher. I thought the the Jags would want to lessen MJD's role last year and include Jennings. But unfortunately, that thought never came into fruition after Jennings missed the entire season with a knee injury. Fast forward to 2012 and we could see Jennings with a pretty decent-sized role. Especially if he winds up taking all first-team reps while MJD sits out. In any case, Jennings is going to find his value as a fantasy handcuff rising as we head into August. And who knows, Jennings could creep into his own as a sleeper pick this year.
His Surroundings: There is no doubt that Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon can make a strong 1-2 punch at the receiver spot this year. And Marcedes Lewis has already shown he can be a top-5 tight end in the NFL. But I still have my doubts that Blaine Gabbert can succeed in this league. During his time as the starter last year, he showed inconsistency and didn't appear to be bettering himself as the year went on, looking very timid in the pocket. If Gabbert can't improve on his play, defenses will be solely lock on MJD all year long. Of course, they had their eyes on him last year and MJD still managed a whopping 343 carries. But at 5'/208lbs, MJD's body could start showing some wear and tear fighting off all those stacked boxes. In the last three years, MJD has averaged 318 carries. That's a lot for a guy his size. If the passing game doesn't get it done, we could finally see MJD's body slowly start breaking down.