After a sub par Junior year, gaining only 979 yards and 11 TDs, TJ Yeldon still decided to declare for the draft. He was selected in the 2nd round by the Jaguars to replace the failed experiment in Toby Gerhart. Yeldon was only the 3rd running back taken after first round picks Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. With Yeldon automatically slipping right into the lead role in the Jaguars offensive backfield there’s no reason he isn’t a great fantasy pick.
Yeldon started his college career at Alabama splitting carries with Eddie Lacy. That year he still managed to gain 1108 yards and 12 TDs on 175 carries in route to Freshman All-American honors. Yeldon is also the only Freshman in Alabama school history to rush for over 1000 yards. That includes backs like Shaun Alexander, Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram who all have had success in the NFL. After Lacy went on to get drafted by the Packers (NFL’s 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year), Yeldon was given the reigns as lead back for the Crimson Tide and gained First Team All-SEC Honors after rushing 207 times for 1235 yards and 14 TDs.
He was underutilized in the passing game at Alabama catching only 46 balls in his three seasons but still has great pass catching talent. At 6’1″ he can even line up outside and match up well if needed. Nick Saban has didn’t need to utilize Yeldon as Amari Cooper soaked up 70% of Alabama’s total targets but TJ can definitely be a weapon in the air, just ask LSU.
Yeldon was held out of the first pre-season game with a sprained finger he injured in a scrimmage. It is however only the pre-season and he is primed to take over the lead spot when healthy. He plays the game like Herschel Walker (6’1″ 225 lb) and Adrian Peterson (6’1″ 220 lb) with an upright running style using his size (6’1″ 220 lb) to power through defenders. He has a one cut running style that is perfect for Jacksonville’s system under new Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson. He has had success with similar running backs like Steven Jackson in St. Louis and LeGarrette Blount in Tampa Bay. Yeldon’s only true knock is that he had 10 fumbles in college. If he can right the ship with his ball security he will have a strangle hold on the lead running back position.
It seems like Jacksonville has finally has found Maurice Jones-Drew’s replacement that they have desperately been searching for.