Maurice Jones-Drew, Injury History and Jordan Todman
If you want to know about Jordan Todman as a player, Matthew Freedman has 2 excellent writeups featuring the young Jaguars runner. Some highlights include a far above-average Explosion Index and an elite nQBDR in his final season at Connecticut. Freedman laid out some truly extensive groundwork on Todman, and those articles are worth reading. I buy into Freedman’s premises, but knew that the only question was going to be playing time.
That issue may already be alleviated. Mr. Rotoviz himself wrote this morning on MJD’s injury and what to do now, noting that MJD leaving the game early in Oakland could potentially give Todman an opportunity at signifcant touches. Given that we seem to generally believe in Todman’s talent, it’s worth analyzing how much of your FAAB dollars you should spend on Todman (and his potential) moving forward.
The initial concern is how terrible that Jaguars offense is. MJD was bad while he was in, Blaine Gabbert was pitiful, and Chad Henne was just as bad. There really aren’t a whole lot of positive signs, so any sort of value out of that backfield is mostly going to be volume based. We saw guys like Keith Toston, Jalen Parmele and Montel Owens post usable fantasy lines for the Jags last year. There are signs that volume could be Todman’s. According to a Jags beat writer, MJD suffered an ankle sprain and is currently feeling ‘looseness’ in the area. This was the same foot in which MJD suffered a Lisfranc injury last year (ironically, playing against Oakland).
As RBs age, their ability to stay healthy and on the field declines. I went back to look at the Rotoworld blurbs on MJD’s injury last year and saw some concerning signs for his current injury. The Jaguars changed the diagnosis several times, denied it was a Lisfranc, and wouldn’t rule MJD out of games even though he was using a motorized cart to get around, before finally admitting in the offseason that a Lisfranc is indeed what Jones-Drew suffered. On November 8th, 2012, MJD said he was “about two weeks away” from game action; he never got back on the field and then was placed on IR and had foot surgery. Maybe his doctors were feeding him bad info, or maybe (like most athletes) he was too optimistic in his ability to recover.
Currently, MJD is scheduled for an MRI and wasn’t able to return on Sunday. Coach Gus Bradley said Monday afternoon that Jones-Drew has a tendon sprain in the ankle. That’s probably all the information that you are going to get before you set your FAAB bids on Tuesday.
So what does all of that tell me? In general, I’m probably not betting on the 28 year old with a serious injury of lower leg injuries to return quickly. Given that MJD has made a career out of proving people like me wrong (his jersey number is famously a reference to how many teams passed on him in the draft), you could say that I’m overreacting and that he has the heart of a champion or use some other platitude to prove MJD’s fantasy usefulness.
If MJD is unable to return to the field, Todman is the answer for the Jaguars. Per PFF, despite only playing 11 snaps in Week One versus the Chiefs, Todman ran 9 pass routes, which was more than half of MJD’s (16) total. In Week Two, the replacement battle wasn’t even close. Todman lead the Jags RB’s in carries (5), snaps, and pass routes run (16). He didn’t receive a target in the passing game, but if he continues to run that number of pass routes as the de facto starter, the receptions will increase.
Before the season, I actually liked Justin Forsett as the eventual replacement for MJD, but I think it’s pretty clear that Todman would receive more work if MJD is unable to return. Todman has already shown the ability to be a workhorse (334 carries, 19 catches his final season at UConn) and has been on the field more than any non-MJD back for the Jags.
As far as FAAB dollars go, Todman isn’t someone for whom you’re going to have break the bank. Most of your leaguemates will probably give you a discount on Todman because he plays for the Jaguars and because we don’t really know how long/if MJD will be out. As a relatively dynamic pass-catcher playing for a team that will trail alot, I’d be fine spending around 8-10% of my FAAB on Todman in a standard league and 10-13% in a PPR. His ceiling is probably as a mid to low RB2, but acquiring these types of guy to plug holes in your lineup can keep a team dealing with injuries afloat. In leagues where I lost the likes of Vereen, Andre Brown, Le’Veon Bell, or was counting on David Wilson, Todman is someone I would like to acquire on Tuesday night while the price is still lowered by uncertainty about MJD’s injury. Even if we learn that MJD will be back for Week Three against Seattle, there is no gurantee of health for 16 games for the aging Jags runner, and Todman could still be usable.