For those of us on the West Coast, we awoke to the news that the Jacksonville Jaguars released Leonard Fournette. The Jags and the former #4 overall pick have had a seasons-long protracted falling out that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like a short-lived misunderstanding. As of now, the Jaguars reportedly released Leonard Fournette because of “on the field” reasons. They also reportedly could not swing a trade for Leonard Fournette before releasing him.
Now, I think that all has to do with Tom Coughlin poisoning the well for Fournette because he didn’t show the proper dour demeanor for being on the sideline for a week 17 game for a dead-ending football team. Tom Coughlin also presided over a Jacksonville Jaguars front office that had so many insane grievances filed against players that the NFLPA took the unprecedented step of warning players away from the Jags. I personally think that all of this poisoned the well with Fournette, leading to the eventual cut heard ‘round the world. What now? What’s the fantasy football ramifications for the Jaguars, and Leonard Fournette?
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Depth Chart
Leonard Fournette’s departure leaves a real mess in Jacksonville. There are no two ways about it. Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead have 44 combined career carries, and Chris Thompson has 250. That makes 294 carries in the entire Jacksonville running back room over the course of their career. Leonard Fournette had 265 last season. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of these jokers.
Armstead spent his rookie year doing… well, not much. There was some hope for Armstead after posting a 4.45 40-yard dash. The Jaguars took him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft and he mostly sat behind Fournette. He was a fantasy football darling last offseason when everyone was convinced that he would steal Fournette’s job. That didn’t exactly work out, as Armstead had just 35 rush attempts and 14 receptions last year while Fournette held onto the job all season long.
I pegged Armstead last year as a potential 55% timeshare guy. That’s where he’ll get a shot to perform this year. He ran for no gain on just 17% of his carries, which is actually better than the league-average mark of 20-25% of carries. Unfortunately, Armstead had some real stone hands (3 drops on 24 targets), and the Jags couldn’t find a spot for him. He’ll get the first crack at carries but is unlikely to get many targets (more on that, later).
Ryquell Armstead hit COVID-19 IR and has been banged up in camp. He’s the clubhouse leader to end the season with the most rush attempts, but he’s starting behind the 8 ball named Devine Ozigbo. He might turn in some second-half flex value, as he compares pretty well to guys like Lamar Miller.
I don’t understand why some people are so hyped on Devine Ozigbo. He looks to me like a Robert Turbin-grade plodder out of the backfield. PFF graded him as their #7 running back coming out last season, behind Darrell Henderson and Devin Singletary, and ahead of Damien Harris and Rodney Anderson. We are yet to know if the 2019 UDFA is more Singletary or Anderson at this point since he ended up buried behind both Armstead and Fournette last season.
Right now, with Devine Ozigbo, we have a guy likely to get the smaller part of the carries for the Jaguars, giving him, what… 100 rush attempts? Some like to point to Devine Ozigbo’s college profile as a reason to believe in him for 2020 fantasy football leagues. But, his closest comparison on PlayerProfiler is Kenneth Farrow. Oh.
Ozigbo is a late-round flier only and is going to be a headache to deal with all year.
This is the only guy I’m boosting up to a point where I might take him in a PPR league. He’s a round 8 or round 9 pick given that he will be a slam dunk RB2 in PPR leagues… until he gets hurt. Armstead could be a league winner if he can stay healthy (he is a career 55 catch per sixteen games guy).
I don’t know how long it will work but Chris Thompson feels like the right guy here. He averages just four carries per game, but any back who gets four could handle 8-10 carries. Toss in 5-7 targets per game and you’re off to the races with Thompson. I wouldn’t expect much more than that out of Thompson; in his time with Jay Gruden as his OC, he averaged 4.2 touches and 4.7 targets per game. Take him, throw him in the flex, and queue up some Taps in week 8 or 9 this year.
Please do not draft the Jags’ RB4 who is a UDFA just because the Jaguars cut Leonard Fournette. He maxes out as a deep league sleeper candidate whose value is contingent on injuries ahead of him on the depth chart, and not someone you should worry about in most leagues.
Devonta Freeman remains a free agent and would be the perfect all-around back to blow up this whole system.
The Leonard Fournette Destination
First, let’s talk about the man I lovingly call Lenny 4nets. He pulled off 1,600+ yards last season after going for 4.3 yards per carry and getting 100 targets. To be honest, he never lived up to his #4 draft slot in Jacksonville (because almost no running back would live up to that draft slot). He had terrible touchdown luck last year, turning in just three touchdowns on 341 touches, which is, by far, a record in scoring futility. This part isn’t where Fournette has been, but where he has a chance to go.
As of right now, I’m taking a shot on Fournette in the double-digit rounds. He’s going to end up somewhere, the only question is where.
The Annoying Option – Chicago
For those of us who drafted Leonard Fournette, this is the worst possible option. David Montgomery is there (though recovering from a groin injury), as is Tarik Cohen. You’re hemming in Fournette’s upside on two fronts: sharing carries with Montgomery and losing targets to Tarik Cohen makes not only Fournette, but Montgomery and Cohen obnoxious people to try to use on a week-to-week basis. If Fournette goes to Chicago.
The Hilarious Option – New York Jets
Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell hate each other. Gase tried to get Kalen Ballage, but Ballage failed his physical. The Jets putting in a claim on Fournette would just be too perfect. This would likely lead to a two-headed attack with Gase saying he’ll ride the “hot hand” game-to-game. If Fournette ends up in New York, expect a lot of passing downs work because Gase hates Bell… a lot.
The Concerning Option – Philadelphia
If the Eagles put in a waiver claim on Fournette, Miles Sanders owners should work themselves up into a slight lather. Fournette to Philadelphia means that the Eagles suddenly have more concern than they are showing about Sanders’ “lower-body” injury. It means that they aren’t sure about his availability. There’s not really another reason to make a waiver claim on a guy like Fournette unless they have serious concerns about Miles Sanders.
The “Break Glass in Case of Emergencies” Option – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have a top-flight running back in Todd Gurley. They also have a top-flight running back with degenerative arthritis in his knees who took a huge step back last year from an efficiency perspective. They also have no quality running backs behind Todd Gurley (Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and Qadree Ollison). Fournette-to-Atlanta makes a lot of sense, given the roster situation there in Hotlanta.
If Fournette goes to Atlanta, he immediately becomes one of the top handcuffs in the league and is worth a stash in all leagues regardless of your Gurley ownership. Gurley’s knee is yet to cost him games, but something people tend to yadda yadda yadda over: degenerative arthritis generally doesn’t get better as you age.
The TB Option – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady building a super squad in Florida makes everyone’s eyes light up when it comes to new players glomming onto the franchise. Here’s the deal, though: Tampa Bay has no cap space. Fournette is almost assured to not make it through waivers, but per Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com, just under $4.2 million transfers to the Buccaneers… and they have about $1.5 million in available cap space. I’m no math major, but I’m not sure how that works out, there.
The Best Option That Nobody Wants to Talk About Because it Blows Up Their Hype Train – Washington Football Team
Washington lost Derrius Guice this offseason and have Bryce Love (who hasn’t been flashing in camp), career underwhelmer Peyton Barber, and 35-year-old Adrian Peterson as the only traditional running backs in that room. They also have J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson, who are more pass-catching backs. Fournette to Washington just makes sense. They have the #2 waiver priority, a ton of cap space, and a definite need in the wake of Derrius Guice removing himself from police society.
You aren’t hearing a lot about this though, because it would pop the Antonio Gibson Hype Train. Fournette is exactly the type of back that Jim Harbaugh would want, AKA the last guy to hire Turner not named Ron Rivera. It all makes sense for his power run scheme to get themselves a north-south guy like Fournette.
This kills the Antonio Gibson.