by Alex Kurpeski
In some ways, Leonard Fournette is actually due for a positive regression this season, as his three rushing touchdowns last season were shockingly low considering the volume he saw. Despite toting the ball 265 times, Fournette scored only three touchdowns on the ground, a disproportionate figure when you account for the fact that every other back with at least 250 attempts last season scored five or more rushing touchdowns. We can fully expect a healthy Fournette to improve his numbers in this area, however his yardage totals will almost surely decrease.
Although some may point to the fact that the Jaguars elected to decline Fournette’s fifth-year option as a reason for them to “run him into the ground” in 2020, the smarter thing for Jacksonville to do would be to diversify their backfield shares in an attempt to find a potential in-house successor for next season, while keeping Fournette healthy in case they find a suitable trade partner. Rather than deploying the burly back as a traditional “bellcow”, I see Jacksonville integrating guys like Ryquell Armstead, James Robinson, and Chris Thompson into the game plan.
The addition of Thompson in particular should be a sign that the team is looking to take Fournette off of the field on passing downs, as the veteran Thompson previously locked down a steady role as Washington’s passing down back, catching at least 35 passes in each of the past five seasons. In 2019, Forunette caught 76 of his 100 targets for 522 yards, providing limited upside as a checkdown in the team’s passing game. With a more dynamic back like Thompson in the fold, it’s clear that Fournette’s target share will see a significant decrease.
As for his share of the touches out of the backfield, Fournette will likely see a minor regression due to the presence of Armstead and Robinson, two players who have the upside to take over the lead back role once Fournette departs. Last season Fournette accounted for 85% of the Jaguars rushing attempts. I fully expect that number to shrink by at least 5 or 10 percent this year.
- 947 rushing yards (-205 from last season)
- 235 ATT (-30 from last season)
- 6 rushing TDs (+3 from last season)
- 324 receiving yards (-198 from last season)
- 46 receptions (-30 from last season)
- 2 receiving TDs (+2 from last season)
- 221.1 fantasy points ~RB14 (-7 spots from last season)
While I don’t see a drastic regression for Fournette, his RB1 ceiling from last season likely will not carry over to this one. That being said, he’s a decently valued pickup in redraft leagues at this stage in the offseason, as his current ADP has him going as the RB19.