The Jacksonville Jaguars' substandard passing game caught up with Maurice Jones-Drew a bit in his two contests before their Week 6 bye. In the pair, he averaged 12.5 attempts for 47 yards because his team abandoned the run after it had fallen behind considerably. (He added six receptions and 45 receiving yards, most of it coming in Week 4.)
MJD turns corner, hits wall?
Actually, if you forget MJD's Week 3 effort against the Indianapolis Colts (28 carries for 177 yards and one TD, plus a couple of catches for 16 yards), his numbers are quite pedestrian. I mean, cripes, even Shonn Greene obliterated Indy's defense. Subtracted, Jones-Drew has posted about 75 total yards per game on 14 carries and three catches per game. No touchdowns.
If you like, blame a holdout as well as injuries to a couple of the Jags' linemen for Jones-Drew's modest start. Let's assume that the O's focal point is at full speed coming off a bye and its front five are at full strength.
According to Football Outsiders, Jacksonville has fielded one of the league's better run-blocking units. They rate about as well as they did last season, give or take. Just as they were last year, this year from Week 7 on, they should be willing to feed the running back until he bursts.
And just as they did last year, opponents know what's coming. But this year, the Jaguars' defense appears to be clueless, whereas last season, it was just lost occasionally. They rank 29th in yards (424.0) and 25th in points (27.6) allowed per game. In 2011, they were sixth in yardage (313.0) and 11th in points (20.6). Their 2012 schedule doesn't appear to be much more difficult than last season's, at the same point.
When Jacksonville becomes more dedicated to the running game and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin injury) is back in the fold - perhaps this week - they should improve on D. Jones-Drew will continue to be a dump-off target and a threat in space when he catches the ball.
But what if the upgrade isn't significant? When you think Mike Mularkey, do you associate him with "committed to the run"?
From this week forward, the Jaguars have a handful of dates that should prove to be real stat-padding days for Jones-Drew. They also face several squads that are capable of shutting MJD down completely, and four of the five have the kind of offenses that could put J'ville in a crater before the first quarter ends. Two of those foes loom in the semis and finals of most fantasy playoff schedules.
The Jones-Drew experience shapes up as a more frustrating one in 2012 than it was in 2011. At a time when he's helping many of his owners fight to get into their fantasy playoffs - in Weeks 12 and 13 - it may prove to be wiser to deal him, if your league still permits trades then.
What do you do if you're worried about making your league's postseason - MJD should help you get there - but also about the slate that awaits him if you do?
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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