by Ross Snow
Sources reported Wednesday night that Jacksonville Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew has not been holding out all preseason in protest of a new contract, but rather in an apparent attempt to steal himself in fantasy football drafts.
Jones-Drew, the 2011 NFL rushing leader, learned of fantasy football last season and reportedly became quickly "obsessed" with the online sport.
"Maurice is a fierce competitor. No matter what he's doing," said Jaguars center, Brad Meester, who introduced the Jaguars running back to the game. "Whether he's on the field running over linebackers or on a computer making really solid waiver claims, he's playing to win."
Jones-Drew entered this fantasy season ranked fifth among all players — behind just Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Aaron Rodgers — but the holdout has dropped his draft position closer to the end of the first round, sometimes into the second. The drop in rankings is a positive one for Jones-Drew who is reported to hold late picks in many of his leagues.
"It's all about value," said ESPN fantasy analyst, Matthew Berry. "With others avoiding him due to holdout concerns, he'll be able to draft himself late in the first and perhaps a top 4 quarterback early in the second. If what's being reported is actually true, it's a very smart move for Maurice Jones-Drew."
Some have questioned why Jones-Drew would take such drastic measures to ensure he could draft himself in a fantasy football league at the cost of real life money. He currently owes over $1 million in fines accumulated from holding out.
"It's not even about the money. Well, not the contract money anyways. Rumor has it that he's in a league with a multimillion dollar buy-in. I guess there's other big names in it too — Mike Wallace, Ryan Mathews, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson — winner takes all," reported a source close to Jacksonville officials. "Once he drafts himself, expect him to report to the team."
"The funny thing is, though…is that through all this, he's actually liked how Rashad Jennings has performed this preseason and now he's thinking of just drafting him and sitting out the season, instead. He says Jennings would be way easier to steal."