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Summer is just around the corner and for those interested already, the fantasy football season is upon us. Over at Yahoo! Sports, fantasy football leagues have already been forming for weeks and owners are foaming at the mouth for their chance to conduct the all important fantasy draft for the 2009 season.
As with every season, Yahoo! has listed their players from highest to lowest rank (duh!). Surprises are expected every season when it comes to the player rankings, and this season is no different. What caught my eye this year was that Yahoo! has rocketed Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew into the top 3. Clearly the departure of RB Fred Taylor to New England means that MJD will carry a full work load by himself and this was probably the main factor in his ranking’s surge. This story seems a little too familiar…
During a draft last season, I was stuck with the 6th overall pick. Considering most football drafts are crap shoots, I was confused on who to take. After looking over Yahoo! rankings, I took a shine to Dallas RB Marion Barber. Barber was a beast of a RB while in a duo backfield with Julius Jones. In two straight seasons, Barber had a nose for the end zone. During the 2006 season, Barber amassed 16 total TD with 135 rushes and 654 yds. The 2007 was even better when Barber achieved over 1,200 total yds with 12 TD’s and not to mention 44 receptions. Then his partner in crime, Julius Jones, left Dallas for a starting role with Seattle. This left Barber all alone and he then went from a must have “handcuff” RB to first round pick.
Barber couldn’t handle it and my team died as a result. Barber’s attempt at a full work load fell short as he rushed for 885 yds on 238 carries (3.7 avg) and he failed to reach double digit TD’s. He did however catch a career high 52 passes. However, he was not the offensive juggernaut that people thought he was going to be.
Maurice Jones-Drew has also achieved fantasy stardom while splitting carries with a teammate. MJD has averaged 4.8 ypc over his three year career and has scored 14+ total TD in two of his three seasons. However, as previously mentioned, he has not had the experience of being a featured back. MJD has never had more than 200 carries in a season and every season, as his number of carries goes up, his yards per carry goes down. Also, when more carries came MJD’s way, he suddenly became Mr. Butterfinger’s with a career high six fumbles that accompanied his career high in carries (197) during the 2008 season.
It happened with Marion Barber and it looks like it could happen with Maurice Jones-Drew. A fantasy stud RB who finally gets the chance to show us what he can do in a featured role did not work out last season and it cost many owners their first round picks. The elements are all the same for the tiny Jacksonville RB, but will the outcome be different? We’ll find out.