Leonard Fournette is no longer a Jacksonville Jaguar.
In a move that was always rumored but few actually believed would manifest this offseason, Fournette has been waived by Jacksonville and now has 10 days to find a team before the NFL starts its 2020 season.
Let’s start with some positive news for those of you that have drafted Fournette already: his efficiency is likely to improve for a number of reasons.
Jacksonville scored three rushing touchdowns last season. While that can largely be attributed to a less than average offense, the offensive line has to shoulder part of the blame as well. Yet, despite their rushing struggles, the Jaguars stayed pat and made no significant changes to its offensive line entering 2020, a choice that led to PFF ranking them the No. 26 offensive line heading into 2020. Fournette has never had the luxury of running behind a dominant offensive line and leaving Jacksonville affords him an opportunity to stick with a better team and have wider lanes to run through as opposed to having to create his own yardage. While Brandon Linder was a steady presence as the center, the rest of the offensive line struggled, particularly A.J Cann and Jawaan Taylor. Despite the line’s inadequacy, Fournette was the most dangerous weapon in the Jacksonville offense. That led to him facing, on average, 7.1 defenders in the box. It was defenses stacking up against the run that helped Minshew and Chark find success throughout the season. Despite his lack of efficiency, defenses respected Fournette’s breakaway ability and as a result, continually stacked the box against him. Hopefully, Fournette’s new landing spot allows him to have more room to operate as a result of a better offense and a better line.
— Jaguar Report (@JaguarReport) January 2, 2020
Despite his lack of scoring opportunities and inefficiency, Leonard Fournette finished as an RB1 last season and looked poise to repeat that status due to one simple fact: the Jaguars loved feeding Fournette the ball. His Snap Share of 91.7% ranked #2 among RBs, he finished 7th in carries (265) and 5th in receptions (75). In total, his weighted opportunities ranked #2 among RBs.
Note: “weighted opportunities” is a metric used to value different types of touches. For example, a target is worth more than a rush based on the average points earned by each type of touch. Via PlayerProfiler.
Fournette rarely left the field and, despite his lack of efficiency, put up numbers because of it. He created 478 yards, #9 in the league, so he still has some value despite his assuredly reduced number of touches. But regardless of where he lands, it’s hard to see Fournette receiving enough touches to be an RB1 in fantasy football. Even if Fournette’s efficiency improves behind a better offensive line, his lack of touches should keep him in the mid RB2 territory at best.
Regardless, there’s one big winner because of today’s news: the “don’t draft until one week before the start of the season” crowd.