Just can’t believe the hype for Mojo and the Jags

July 4, 2009

This past week the NFL has begun pumping up the upcoming 2009 season and one of their questions for fantasy owners was whether Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte should be ranked as the No. 2 back over Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew.

While Drew was ultimately placed No. 3 on the list the NFL has this to say about Jones-Drew: “Fantasy owners looking for a breakout season should look no further than Jones-Drew.” Of course this assertion is based on the fact that Jones-Drew is slated to be the main workhorse on the team now that Fred Taylor is in New England.

Hate to sound like a broken record on this but this hype for Jones-Drew hype is flat out wrong. He could prove me totally wrong but until the 5 foot 7 Jones-Drew averages more than 12 carries a game it is just hard for me to believe that he can hold up to the week-in and week-out grind.

As I have noted previously, his rushing total was actually HIGHER in 2006 than it was last year. Granted the Jags offensive line was in bad shape last year but it defies logic to think as the NFL fantasy gurus do that Jones-Drew is suddenly going to bust out for a 1,100 yard, 13 touchdown season. If anything one could argue that his touchdown total will actually go down if the team relies more heavily on fullback Greg Jones who was hurt last year.

Then there’s the nagging question of the productivity of the entire Jags offense heading into 2009. Part of the blame for that is due to the O-line injuries and the lack of a decent wideout. A motivated Torry Holt signed with the team in April but can David Garrard really help the 33-year-old receiver reclaim some of his old glory?

The Jags already play in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. It’s hard to imagine that this team has enough firepower to compete with Indy, Tennessee and now a surging Houston Texans squad that won five of its last six games.

The last time Coach Jack Del Rio was on the hotseat he made the bold decision to bench Byron Leftwich and go with Garrard. I just don’t know what other magic trick Del Rio has left to turn this team into a solid contender. And if Mojo isn’t the answer then it’s going to be an even more dismal season.

Fearless fantasy predictions for 2008

September 5, 2008

Another wonderful NFL season is upon us and it begins yet another round of longing and quiet confidence that your fantasy team will prevail this year.

But as any good fantasy team owner knows, take everything you read in preseason with a garbage-can size dose of salt. Each season comes with new stars and more importantly, unexpected busts, that can turn your season into a three-month long nightmare.

With that caveat, here are some of my fearless fantasy predictions for Florida’s three NFL teams.

* Maurice Jones-Drew is a perfect candidate for a fantasy player who WILL NOT live up to the hype. Why? There are a handful of reasons, but I’ll start with the great Fred Taylor. In my mind, Taylor has been a fantastic back who has put to rest those early career problems with injuries. But I am worried about the 32-year-old back and I am worried about the Jacksonville Jaguars offense in general. David Garrard still doesn’t have a top-flight, week-in, week-out receiver who can help propel the passing game. (Sorry, Jerry Porter, Matt Jones, Reggie Williams.) That puts more pressure on the running game, but if Taylor’s numbers slip, so will Jones-Drew because his success is dependent on being a receiving, change-of-pace running back. And in case you didn’t notice, Jones-Drew actually put up worse numbers last year than in 2006. 

* Ricky Williams will in the early going help out a lot of fantasy owners who took a chance on the former pot-smoking, do my own thing in my own time, break the mold running back. I have no doubt that the Miami Dolphins will run, run and run again. But we’ve seen this movie before and at some point Williams may run out of gas, or give way to Ronnie Brown. Enjoy it while you can.

* Earnest Graham could easily have a breakout season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I don’t think that Warrick Dunn will steal many carries from him. Cadillac Williams was placed on the PUP list, which will knock him out for the first half of the season.

* Chad Pennington could be a decent quarteback for the Dolphins this season. But unless you are in a fantasy league that prizes accuracy, he won’t bring much to your team. Only use him in a bye-week situation. There’s a reason that the New York Jets scooped up Brett Favre. Pennington’s limitations are also why I would shy away from taking any Dolphins receivers other than Ted Ginn Jr.

* The Jaguars defense remains the best among the three Florida teams, although the prospect of a decent running game in Miami and Tampa Bay could help those two teams as well. But the downside to the Miami defense is that it has to play some explosive offensive teams, including the Patriots.