2014 Fantasy Football Profile: RB Maurice Jones-Drew

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Maurice Jones-Drew was a top running back in fantasy football circles as recently as 2011, when he led the league with 1,606 rushing yards, caught 43 passes and had 11 total touchdowns (eight rushing). But a Lisfranc injury limited him to just six games in 2012, and even though he played 15 games last season his numbers (803 rushing yards, five touchdowns and 43 catches) were not quite at his previous level. Jones-Drew will get a fresh start this season, at age 29, after signing a three-year deal with the Oakland Raiders.



Jones-Drew said he signed with the Raiders because they offered an opportunity to earn a starting job. Even if he is not atop the depth chart come Week 1, Jones-Drew is only an inevitable Darren McFadden injury away from being Oakland’s primary ball carrier.


Jones-Drew’s 43 catches last season would have been good for third-best on the Raiders, and he should be an important passing game option for whoever is under center for Oakland this year.


Jones-Drew had 28 carries in the red zone last year, and all five of his touchdowns came from less than 10 yards out. Even with a clear loss of explosiveness (a career-low 3.4 yards per carry in 2013), he should at least be the Raiders’ goal line back.




Jones-Drew has over 1,800 carries and more than 2,100 touches in his career, and he is approaching the age where running backs break down. His days as a workhorse look to be over, and his recent injury history is a concern.


The Raiders, assuming both are healthy, may use Jones-Drew and McFadden in a 50-50 playing time split. Add in fullback Marcel Reece, and you have a potential split of touches that stands to be unpredictable and frustrate fantasy owners.



Final Verdict

Name recognition may still drive when Jones-Drew gets selected in fantasy drafts to some degree, along with his driving his price up a bit in auctions, but he is clearly not the same player he was earlier in his career. His production as Oakland’s likely primary goal line back is not certain to be that great, and if he winds up getting the majority of the carries the injury risk attached to him goes up. When it comes time to secure some running back depth on draft day, I’ll willingly target players with better upside and let someone else have Jones-Drew in most cases.


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