You Shouldn't Trust Maurice Jones-Drew in Fantasy Football This Year
Maurice Jones-Drew was a first-round fantasy staple for years. Now that the 29-year-old back has signed in Oakland, however, he's in a completely different situation than he's ever seen. And as a result, he's been going all over the place in fantasy football drafts, as his average draft position shows that people aren't quite sure how he will fare in Oakland. But looking at the numbers paints a pretty clear picture.
Lack of Efficiency
A big part of MJD’s fantasy success in the past has been volume based. Here’s how he’s stacked up as of late when looking at running backs that play at least 25% of their teams’ snaps:
|Year||Fantasy Points/Snap||Rank Among RBs|
This lack of efficiency is also reflected in his Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) numbers. Last season, Jones-Drew finished 53rd in Rushing NEP among the 67 running backs with 50 or more carries. In his injury-shortened 2012, he finished 27th, and even in 2011 when he won the rushing title, he finished only 32nd among qualifying running backs.
MJD’s former teammate Rashad Jennings received only 163 carries in Oakland last year, and the Raiders only have one back with more carries than that in a single season over the last five years. Without heavy volume, Jones-Drew’s recent efficiency indicates that he would need to put up big touchdown numbers to remain relevant in fantasy football.
And the problem is that Jones-Drew is no lock for goal-line work in Oakland, and his effectiveness as a short-yardage back has fallen off as his career progresses. Through the first half of his career, Jones-Drew carried the ball inside the 5-yard line 59 times, converting 24 of those into touchdowns - a success rate of 40.7%. In the second half of his career, he's converted on only 11 of his 37 goal line attempts, good for 29.7%. For reference, Darren McFadden over the same time span (2010-2013) has 11 touchdowns on 22 goal-line carries. To assume he'll be the touchdown scorer in Oakland - which it seems like he'll need to be in order to stay relevant in fantasy - wouldn't necessarily be a smart assumption.
Per FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Jones-Drew is going at a average draft position of 7.04, leaving the board as the 32nd running back. The seventh round is simply too high to take a volume-dependent running back who isn't guaranteed to get a lot of volume. Jones-Drew offers little in the way of upside, and is playing in a crowded backfield. He's being drafted rounds ahead of where he belongs based on success that he's years removed from.
Though he's still ranked 30th at running back according to our projections, his three-touchdown projection isn't anything to write home about. Stay away if you're looking for a player who can provide immense upside.