How Chris Johnson helped Jones-Drew owners

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Titans running back Chris Johnson may have done fantasy owners a favor last season.

By holding out and subsequently having an underwhelming season Johnson, who was drafted in the top five in most drafts, gave owners a precedent when deciding what to do with Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Fantasy owners weren't going to make the same mistake twice, so Jones-Drew's stock took a hit as his holdout carried on through OTAs, training camp and all four preseason games.

Sunday, he finally reported.

While he won't play a major role Week 1 -- Rashad Jennings has already been named the starter -- and may turn in a lousy season by his standards like Johnson did last season, it is where he was drafted that will ultimately dictate his value.

CJ2K didn't have a terrible season in 2011, just a terrible season for where he was drafted. Johnson had 1,047 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 57 catches and 418 receiving yards. Those are adequate numbers for a RB2, but since Johnson was selected early in the first round, we view his 2011-12 as a major bust.

If you were lucky enough to have your fantasy drafts prior to Jones-Drew reporting, you were likely able to snag last season's leading rusher with a third-round pick. Since he reported, his ADP has jumped to the early second round, per

While the deck is stacked against Jones-Drew having another 1,600-yard rushing season, it's not farfetched to think he can contribute RB1 numbers this season.

New Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey, who didn't meet Jones-Drew for the first time until Sunday, reportedly said Jones-Drew looked to be in game shape but he needed more time to assess that situation. Johnson was admittedly out of shape when he reported last season.

Once Jones-Drew usurps the starting tailback job from Jennings, fantasy owners won't have to worry about a time share because Mularkey has a history of giving his lead back a heavy workload.

Prior to getting the Jaguars' job, Mularkey served as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-11. In the three seasons when Michael Turner played all 16 games, he carried the ball 1,011 times compared to 239 times for the second leading ballcarrier on the team (Jacquizz Rodgers in 2011, Jason Snelling in 2010 and Jerious Norwood in 2008). Mularkey also was Miami's OC in 2006, and he gave Ronnie Brown 241 carries to Sammy Morris' 92 that season.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Mularkey envisions Jones-Drew being the same workhorse back he's been in the past. "That's kind of the way the system works, yes," Mularkey said when asked if Jones-Drew will get most of the carries once he's 100 percent. "Whoever starts, the other one will handle the third downs."

Another factor working in Jones-Drew's favor is that he's a power back, while Johnson relies on his top-flight speed and quick cuts to get up field in a hurry. Johnson lacked explosiveness last season and it showed as he averaged a career-low 4.0 ypc. As long as Jones-Drew still has those tree trunk legs, he'll be difficult to bring down. For that reason, the Jaguars back will likely have an easier time getting going than Johnson did last season.

Although Jones-Drew's 38-day holdout didn't accomplish anything tangible, the lack of a new deal with keep the 5-foot-7, 210-pound bowling ball rolling in the right direction. Jones-Drew is hungry for a new contract and he's yet to be satisfied, so failure will not be an option for him this season.

Owners who were able to get Jones-Drew in the second or third round can thank Chris Johnson for the discount, though I'm sure there are plenty who won't be quick to pass along gratitude after the running back sank their fantasy season last year.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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