PointCounterPoint – JR vs. The Duke – The Case for MJD
John Ryan: Every year fantasy owners ride a slippery slope in terms of past value vs. perceived future return. Veterans like Reggie Wayne and Steven Jackson are looked at as safe bets by some and risky gambles by others. The Eagles had a knack for knowing when to say good-bye to fading veterans in real life, but fantasy is just that…fantasy and not real life. So how does one determine if a player is going to give back return on your pick investment? While no one can predict an injury (at least in a player without major usage and below age 28), there are other ways to determine. Usage. Scheme. Offensive Philosophy. Contract Situation. Based on these factors, I say Maurice Jones-Drew is worth a roster spot in a standard format PPR league that starts 2 or 3 running backs. I say this, because I drafted him in round 3 (pick #21) in a 10 man league last night (with much derision from my fantasy partner, The Duke). Jones-Drew, 28, is coming off of an injury. Fact. But he is also 28 years old, meaning we can reasonably expect him to be a healthy contributor for an another 2 years. He was also leading the league in rushing before he was hurt last year, he is the focal point of his offense (and its not even close, since bust (?) Justin Blackmon is is suspended for the first 4 games in 2013) they upgraded their tackle position with the drafting of Luke Joeckel to bookend with the massive Eugene Monroe, has never averaged below 4.2 YPC in his career, and is presumably playing for his last guaranteed big money contract . Plain and simple MoJo is a fantasy stud, and in 2013 he is a fantasy steal.
The Duke: I’m not saying Maurice Jones Drew doesn’t hold fantasy value and / or shouldn’t be rostered. I am saying that pick #21 overall is a definite reach. With players still on the board such as Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Randall Cobb on the board, MJD must be glossed over. The RB position has few studs and greater parity than ever in 2013 Fantasy Football. I could make a strong argument that you could get better value with players drafted in round 6-8 than rounds 3-5. On the positive side for MJD, I will admit that Joeckel should add a nice boost. That’s about it. MJD will be asked to run behind a zone blocking scheme for the first time in his career. While that may sound like a good thing on the surface, remember that his linemen are inexperienced in this scheme. Zone blocking can be quite difficult for offensive linemen to learn as the entire unit must work in unison. Oakland demonstrated last year just how atrocious the first year transitioning to a zone block scheme could be. Getting beyond the blocking scheme, we’ve got a 28 year old player coming off a foot injury that has just recently healed from surgery. While Maurice Jones Drew will be the focal point of the offense, he will also be the focal point of every defense. Eight in the box against an otherwise atrocious Jacksonville offense could equal disaster. Again, MJD is worth rostering but you might end up finding that later round picks such as Ryan Matthews, Montee Ball, Mark Ingram, or DeAngelo Williams could provide the same, if not better value, while you could have used that early selection on a stud #1 wideout.