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Jaguars fantasy question: Will Jones-Drew have a breakout season?

Jaguars burning fantasy question:Will Maurice Jones-Drew have a breakout season?

Fantasy owners are always on the lookout for that one player who'll exceed statistical expectations and have a breakout season. Such a find can turn your team into a championship contender -- just ask anyone who landed Michael Turner or DeAngelo Williams in 2008.

Jaguars top-5 fantasy players

  1. Maurice Jones-Drew
  1. Torry Holt
  2. David Garrard
  1. Mercedes Lewis
  1. Mike Walker

Sleeper: Walker

This season that player could be Maurice Jones-Drew.

The man nicknamed "Pocket Hercules" is a bit different than Turner and Williams, in that he's been a fantasy starter for most of his NFL career. In three seasons with the Jaguars, he's been a virtual end-zone magnet with 38 total touchdowns.

However, his yardage totals have been limited due to the presence of Fred Taylor. With the veteran ahead of him on the depth chart, Jones-Drew has started a mere four games. He's also averaged just 177 carries per season in what was a shared backfield.

But with Taylor no longer in the mix, Jones-Drew is now a rare breed -- a true featured NFL back.

The Jaguars added Rashard Jennings with the No. 250 selection in April's draft, but neither he nor Chauncey Washington has a legitimate chance to put a serious dent into Jones-Drew's carries. While Greg Jones is also in the mix and could see some goal-line looks, he isn't a threat to hurt MJD's value either.

That means the smallish running back out of UCLA should surpass his career-high of 197 carries in 2009.

In fact, Jones-Drew could see between 225-250 attempts in what will be a run-based offense. If we use the high end of that projection and his career average of 4.8 yards per carry, then Jones-Drew could rush for around 1,200 yards. At worst, he should reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time at the pro level.

The potential for a 1,000-yard rushing season is evident, but those projections don't include his skills as a pass catcher.

Jones-Drew has averaged 49 receptions, including a career-best 62 catches last season. He's also averaged close to 470 receiving yards, so he's not only a threat to record improved numbers on the ground but he can also make plays as a receiver out of the backfield. That rare combination in a featured back just increases MJD's draft value.

Fantasy leaguers also need to consider what should be a much-improved offensive line in projecting his numbers.

The team focused on improving its line during April's draft, taking OT Eugene Monroe with the No. 8 overall selection and OT Eben Britton with the 39th pick. The Jaguars see this duo as their future bookend tackles, so Monroe and Britton will be asked to step in and help protect David Garrard and open holes for Jones-Drew.

With more carries and chances as a receiver out of the backfield seemingly imminent, not to mention a better offensive line in front of him, it's not hard to see why Jones-Drew could be on the cusp of a highly productive season.

He'll be worth as much as a top-five pick in all standard leagues and could warrant as much as the No. 3 overall selection behind Adrian Peterson in leagues that reward points for catches.

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