NFL fantasy football: Maurice Jones-Drew a risk?

Getting serious: Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, NFL.com and NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche was told that when the Jacksonville Jaguars open training camp on Thursday, running back Maurice Jones-Drew will not be there. Jaguars owner Shad Khan seems entrenched in his stance that 2011 NFL rushing champion will not get a new contract, which has led to both parties playing hardball. Fantasy football owners will have to keep close tabs on the situation, given Jones-Drew carries considerable weight as a No. 1 running back in drafts. He is currently ranked as the fifth overall running back by the NFL Fantasy LIVE crew, but the longer his holdout lasts, the more his value will take a hit. With memories of Chris Johnson‘s struggles in 2011 still fresh in everyone’s mind, the veteran has already seen a slight decline in value, as reflected by his selection in the second round of the NFL fantasy experts league mock draft. Any potential Jones-Drew owners should plan on playing it safe and select backup Rashad Jenningsas a must-handcuff.

Will Maurice Jones-Drew suffer the same fate as other holdouts? (Stephen Morton/Associated Press)

It’s complicated: Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells reportedly conceded his knee procedure six months ago was a bit more complicated than his reference to it being “just a scope.” The back has been placed on the active/PUP list to start training camp, and while that isn’t too much of a concern just yet, last month coach Ken Whisenhunt stated “(Wells) has got to bust his tail the next few weeks to be ready for training camp because some guys have looked good there.” Coming off a patella tendon injury which sidelined him for his rookie season in 2011, Ryan Williams is considered the back to give Wells serious competition for playing time. Wells is projected as a borderline No. 2 or 3 running back in fantasy football drafts, but as fantasy expert Michael Fabiano points out, Williams could be one of the better handcuff values as a late-round pick.

New blood: The Indianapolis Colts parted ways with running back Joseph Addai in the offseason, leaving Donald Brown as the current favorite to start Week 1. Though Addai was a fan favorite, his recent release by the New England Patriots signals it was a smart move on the Colts’ behalf. Still, expectations for Brown to become the lead back might have to be reigned in. The team has signed rookie Vick Ballard to a four-year contract, and he could make a serious push for playing time. As running backs coach David Walker pointed out on Colts.com, the Mississippi State product has “done a really nice job of picking things up and impressing his teammates.” The situation now becomes one of fantasy football’s training camp stories to watch. With Brown considered only a No. 3 or 4 fantasy back, the potential is there for Delone Carter and Ballard to make an impact in 2012.

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