In a year that has been full of surprises to say the least, the NFL threw another curveball at fans everywhere when the Jacksonville Jaguars released former 4th overall pick Leonard Fournette ahead of the 2020 season.
Fournette has joined the list of cast-offs from Jacksonville over the past few seasons. The likes of Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Allen Robinson, Yannick Ngakoue, and Calais Campbell have been shipped out of town by the Jaguars. The team that was a final four team in 2017 is now a bottom feeder in the NFL.
That said, the Fournette released, and subsequent waiver clearance, shakes up the landscape of the NFL, and certainly has it’s hand in shaking up the fantasy world as well.
As of Tuesday, Fournette cleared waivers and officially became a free agent. That said, he likely will not be a free agent for long. There are a number of teams in need of a solid running back. Some of those teams include the Buccaneers, Rams, Chargers, Eagles, and Bears.
Assuming Fournette signs with teams such as the Bucs or Rams, his fantasy value is arguably more than what it was with the Jaguars. Why? Well both offenses are loaded with so much more talent than the Jaguars, likely meaning he would not be facing a loaded box on a running down. What does that mean? That means there aren’t more players in the box (five yards from the line of scrimmage and from left tackle to right tackle) than the offense has prepared to block inside.
Opening up the box means more running room for Fournette. With the Rams, it’s easy to see Fournette filling Todd Gurley’s old role now that the former Ram has moved on to the Atlanta Falcons. He would easily be a fringe RB1 in Los Angeles.
However, the only concern with Tampa is that they have so many weapons, so getting enough touches to be an RB1 in fantasy is unlikely. He certainly profiles as an RB2 with the Bucs.
The Bears are a fascinating option because it’s uncertain what his role would be. Currently, starting running back David Montgomery is sidelined for 2-4 weeks due to a groin injury. That means only Tarik Cohen is the remaining healthy true running back on the roster. Cordarelle Patterson has been taking reps at the position, but is more of a Swiss Army Knife at this point.
With that being said, Fournette likely would be getting majority of the carries. Assuming the Bears offensive line can return to 2018 form, Fournette would be a solid RB2 with the Bears.
The Eagles and Charges aren’t as appealing for Fournette’s fantasy value. In Philadelphia, he would be sharing the backfield with Miles Sanders, who many expect to be a top 10 fantasy back this year. He is undoubtedly the number one back in Philly, so Fournette’s value would decrease to an RB3/Flex at best.
For the Chargers, there are similarities to the Philadelphia situation, however he would likely get more touches in the run game due to Ekler’s upside as a pass catcher more so than a runner. That would make Fournette more of a fringe RB2/Flex with the Chargers.
There are a number of moving variables for Fournette’s fantasy value in 2020. However, assuming he goes to the Bucs, Bears, or Rams, he certainly maintains his 3rd/4th round talent that he’s been in most fantasy drafts. However, a contract with the Chargers or Eagles could really depreciate Fournette’s fantasy value and make fantasy owners regret taking the former #4 overall pick in their respective leagues.