The Jacksonville Jaguars, in a desperate call for talent, selected Leonard Fournette out of LSU with the fourth selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. With all the moving and shaking that happened in the first 10 picks, the Jags got their man without having to give anything up in return.
His measurable’s are incredible, being a rock-solid 240 pounds, and boasting a 4.5 forty yard dash. That’s great top-end speed for a guy that’s as big as a linebacker.
Fournette’s tape might be even better. He was reminiscent of a young Adrian Peterson, and he played in the very competitive SEC. Calling Fournette a punishing runner might be putting it mildly.
He isn’t without his faults, but there are few running backs that play like Fournette. Jacksonville is desperate for someone who can impose some kind of fear in defenses, and Leonard Fournette is just the ticket.
Fournette has great pro prospects, drawing comparisons to many great runners. Should you consider taking him in your Fantasy drafts this coming summer?
Should I Draft Leonard Fournette?
Transitioning to the Pros
Even in his injury-plagued junior year, Fournette destroyed defenses to the tune of 6.5 yards per carry. Time and again, he proved to be a threat to score from anywhere on the field for the Tigers, having multiple 70-plus yard touchdowns.
As a sophomore, he mangled defenses for 2,200 total yards. Not to mention the 22 total touchdowns that season. When healthy, he was one of the most dominant running backs in all of college football.
But there’s the problem. Fournette was great on the field, but he spent too much time on the sidelines with injuries in his final collegiate season. He missed five games in 2016 due to an ankle injury that never really healed in-season.
His work in the passing game also leaves a little to be desired, with lackluster routes and blocking. He does make up for those deficiencies with decent hands and great after-the-catch abilities. Smaller defensive backs will struggle taking down Fournette. Look for Jacksonville to take advantage of his brute strength and size in their matchups.
2017 Fantasy Football Outlook: Leonard Fournette
The biggest adjustment Leonard Fournette will face is going from one of the best offensive lines in college football, to a lackluster one in Jacksonville. Pro Football Focus considered the LSU Tigers to have the ninth best offensive line in college football last season. Meanwhile, Jacksonville had a mediocre 22nd ranked line.
Their addition of Cam Robinson in the second round and trading for Brandon Albert should provide some much needed competition to a group that needs to become more consistent. The five guys up front will ultimately determine Fournette’s fate in 2017 and beyond. There’s only so much Fournette’s talent can cover up.
Making life even more difficult is the enigma that is Blake Bortles. It’s truly a make or break season for him. Fournette was brought in to help take pressure off of Bortles, but is that a good sign for your Fantasy team?
Personally, I love drafting talented young running backs that are going to be fed the ball early and often. Tom Coughlin teams have a tendency to rely on studly running backs, based on his prior work in Jacksonville and New York. Look for the Jags to try to out-will their opponents by shoving Fournette down their throats until they can’t take it anymore.
There is some talent to share the load in Jacksonville, with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon each vying for a role to play. That’s a pretty busy backfield, and both Ivory and Yeldon deserve some playing time.
But there is just too much talent and too much invested in Fournette to not use him early and often. And having solid relief might actually play to Fournette’s advantage, as he struggled with staying healthy in the past year. It’s good to have another player in the bullpen in case Fournette faces any rookie slumps.
All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to look at Leonard Fournette in all Fantasy Football formats. The guys at FNTSY Sports paint the same picture that I’m looking at here.
I think they also have a very valid point that Ivory may be dead weight with the addition of Fournette. They have similar playstyles, but Fournette is much younger and has a lot less wear and tear.
Jacksonville may continue to struggle, and their regular season hinges on the success of Blake Bortles. Fantasy players hope they will rely on Fournette to set the tone on first and second down.
In his rookie year, I see a two-faced player. A Fantasy player that will experience incredible highs, and underwhelming lows. Until the Jaguars get more consistency in their offensive line and quarterback play, Fournette may be limited in fulfilling his potential.
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