The vast majority of fantasy football drafts are going to take place in the next two months. With that in mind, I'm going to provide some fantasy analysis articles on some prominent Jaguars. It's always fun landing one of your favorite players from your favorite teams, but oftentimes reaching for such a player can be a fatal flaw for a fantasy squad.
Last week PFF's Kent Weyrauch did a deep dive into some players that have high fantasy floors for the upcoming season.
Included in his top ten, at nine overall, is Leonard Fournette:
The touchdown regression just has to hit, right? Leonard Fournette scored only three touchdowns last season. We know touchdowns have a ton of variance baked in, but it’s going to be almost impossible for him to have less than last year.
Assuming Leonard Fournette is still a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars when the regular season rolls around, I tend to agree with Weyrauch here.
Fournette was an effective, albeit imperfect, offensive weapon for the Jaguars in 2019. He racked up massive yardage totals and hauled in 76 receptions.
Many who argue against Fournette as a safe fantasy option in 2020, point to the addition of Chris Thompson as a reason Fournette's production as a pass-catcher is likely to slip. While I agree that Fournette isn't likely to be targeted 100 times again in 2019, I also don't see his receiving production completely falling off a cliff. For one, Thompson is a role player, not a guy who's going to be eating into much early-down work; two: Thompson is regularly injured. So while Thompson will likely eat into Fournette's workload as a receiver, he won't get the lions share of the work in that department from a season-long perspective.
When projecting what Fournette's season totals are going to look like, he'll probably have 15-25 fewer receptions, but should find the end zone a few more times. He's going to be heavily featured in the Jaguars' offense and should be more efficient with Jay Gruden calling plays. Fournette faced the fourth most loaded boxes of any runner in the league last year. If Jay Gruden and Gardner Minshew can earn more respect from opposing defenses in 2020 than the Jaguars did in 2019, it could help open up some clearer rushing lanes for LF27.
My only minor concern for Fournette is injury. He's faced his fair share of nagging ailments dating back to his college days. But Fournette has remained relatively healthy in two of his three years with the Jaguars. Every player has injury risk entering a given season, but Fournette's recent track record suggests that he shouldn't get dinged in your rankings due to past injuries. Still, I understand that it may be difficult to get his 2018 hamstring issues out of your head.
When it comes to TD regression, it seems likely that Fournette will regress closer to the mean. He was highly ineffective inside the red zone last season, thanks in large part to a poor offensive line and some inconsistencies in the vision department. But Fournette should have plenty of opportunities when it comes to getting into the end zone. He scored ten total touchdowns as a rookie and six in an injury-shortened sophomore season. So expecting Fournette to score more than three touchdowns in 2020, is a safe bet.
My only minor concern for Fournette is injury. He's faced his fair share of nagging ailments dating back to his college days. But Fournette has remained relatively healthy in two of his three years with the Jaguars. Every player has injury risk entering a given season, and Fournette's recent track record suggests that he shouldn't get dinged in your rankings due to past injuries. Still, I understand that it may be difficult to get his 2018 hamstring issues out of your head.
When talking about a safe floor type player, context is necessary. Where is Fournette currently being drafted, and which running backs are also going in that range?
Let's take a look at Fournette's current average draft position (ADP).
Non-PPR: 34 overall, RB 19
Half-PPR: 25 overall, RB 13
PPR: 28 overall, RB 16
It clearly matters what type of league you're in when deciding how you value Fournette and others. Fournette has less perceived value in non-PPR formats bc he was a high volume pass catcher in 2019. Keep in mind that these ADPs are likely to change as we inch closer to the regular season. I'd guess that due to a negative public option of the Jaguars' offense and Leonard Fournette's role in that offense, his ADP will fall into the third-fourth round in most formats before the start of the season, but that remains to be seen.
In PPR, Fournette is being drafted just behind Todd Gurley and in front of David Johnson. James Conner, Lev Bell, and Melvin Gordon are also coming off the board a few picks after Fournette. This is exactly where he should be. While Todd Gurley could be more of a boom or bust type player with his arthritic knee, Fournette does have a safer floor in PPR. When it comes to the runners being selected just after Lenny in this format, they all come with risks of their own.
In half-PPR, Fournette's value is at its highest. He's being selected just after Austin Ekler and in front of Lev Bell, Kenyan Drake, and Chris Carson. I have no idea why Drake is falling so low, as he's in line for a feature role in a high volume offense. I'd suggest taking Drake over all of the running backs in this range, but Fournette would be second on the list. Ekler is entering an entirely new situation with Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert at QB in Los Angeles. Will the volume and efficiency remain close to what it was with Phil Rivers dumping off to him so often? Bell will undoubtedly have a nice work load, but his efficiency in 2019 was horrendous, and that doesn't figure to change with Adam Gase in charge. Chris Carson could certainly finish as an RB1, but with his hip injury and long history of fumble issues, his range of possible outcomes for 2020 is high.
Non-PPR is where Fournette ranks lowest, again, due to the fact that he caught a ton of passes in 2019 and didn't find the end zone much. But this is actually the best format to pick Fournette up. His value is lowest as a late third-rounder, and regression to the mean is likely when it comes to his pass-catching and touchdown scoring. Fournette averaged eight touchdowns per season in his first two years but only scored three times in 2019. He's likely to get closer to the eight touchdown mark in 2020. And he's also likely to lose just a bit of his PRR value with a minor dip in targets, thanks to the additions of Chris Thompson, Tyler Eifert, and even Laviska Shenault Jr. In a format that values scoring touchdowns and doesn't give extra credit to catching passes, Fournette is getting overlooked.
I wouldn't consider Fournette a strong value in the second round, but as I wrote earlier this summer, if he falls to the third round, adding him to your squad as your RB2 or FLEX is not a bad proposition. As long as he's in Jacksonville, he's guaranteed a massive workload, thus a safe floor. Considering this is also a contract year for Fournette, he'll have even more motivation to produce as he prepares to hit free agency in 2021.
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