Quick Take: Maurice Jones-Drew returns to work…finally

Maurice Jones-Drew’s fantasy owners need to exercise patience before getting too excited about his return.

Thank you for joining us, Maurice.

With word emerging early this morning that Jones-Drew, last year’s NFL rushing leader, finally reported to the Jacksonville Jaguars, owners who invested in the perennial fantasy powerhouse are likely spelling out “VICTORY” in their Alpha-Bits.

Unfortunately, I’m here to pour a little sour milk into the mix.

While MJD is arguably one of the most consistent backs in football, both real and fake, Jacksonville has been an epicenter of change this offseason. A new offensive coordinator has invested his time and energy in backup Rashad Jennings, and it is going to take Pocket Hercules some time to get up to speed with the new scheme. Add to that the fact that, as recently as yesterday, Jags coach Mike Mularkey hadn’t even heard from Jones-Drew, and it is going to take a little time to mop up this mess.

This whole situation smells a lot like the Chris Johnson holdout that ended 367 days ago: A top runner sits out camp then reports a mere week before real games begin. Fantasy managers who drafted Johnson last year remember his poor early season output (572 total yards, 1 TD in the first eight games), and investors in Jones-Drew should expect a similar breaking-in period.

For the first couple weeks of the season, handcuff Jennings is the safer fantasy play. I foresee a pretty even split between the two Jacksonville backs, with Jennings receiving more of the goal line touches due to the simple fact that he had training camp and the preseason to prepare for the physical abuse of pushing for the pylons.

The silver lining in all of this? While MJD may hurt your team a bit early on, if you can exercise some patience he will likely pay dividends. Sure, his Week 14 matchup against a solid Jets defense is less than ideal, but taking on Miami in the Week 15 fantasy playoff hotspot is a dream for owners. Let’s also remember how Johnson turned it on near the end of the season to rescue his falling stock, and MJD fans should be ready for a late season surge. Keep those Alpha-Bits on hand, but maybe sub out some Lucky Charms for the time being.

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