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How Will Leonard Fournette Perform in a Contract Year?


What You Need To Know:


Big volume, underwhelming results

Had you known before the season that Fournette would handle 341 touches across 15 games, you’d assume he posted elite totals. But playing on a subpar offense, that never happened.

Now, he wasn’t exactly a bust. Fournette ultimately finished as the RB7, due largely to a stunning 76 catches. His 100 targets ranked behind only Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler and Tarik Cohen.

Fournette simply couldn’t buy a TD. Only 4 RBs had more red zone carries (43), yet the 228-pounder managed 3 rushing TDs (and 0 through the air).

Individually, Fournette was strong. Per Pro Football Focus, he ranked 4th in yards after contact per attempt (3.34) among 21 RBs to play at least 50% of the snaps. (As expected for a back of his size.)

Among qualifiers, only 9 RBs saw a higher rate of 8+ man boxes than Fournette (31.7%). So his 4.3 yards per carry — a career-high, actually — looks solid.

He wasn’t helped much by the O-line; he averaged 1.4 yards before contact per attempt, a bottom-3 mark among 47 qualifiers.

In terms of availability, Fournette bounced back from a rough 2018. After playing only half of a season, he missed just the season finale with an illness/neck injury.


Clock ticking in Jacksonville

Unsurprisingly, the Jags declined Fournette’s 5th-year option. He’s essentially a lock to play elsewhere in 2021. He’s survived trade rumors to this point, though, which gives him a shot at one more workhorse season.

Nevertheless, there’s no chance he sees another 100 targets —not with rookie WR Laviska Shenault around and Chris Thompson added to the backfield. Shenault’s a catch-and-run specialist; Thompson brings injury risk but a history with OC Jay Gruden and 212 career catches.

Perhaps Ryquell Armstead mixes in a bit more on early downs, but we’d bet against him significantly biting into Fournette’s workload. Armstead saw only 35 carries as a rookie, with 10 coming in Week 17 with Fournette sidelined.

Naturally, Fournette should see a TD rebound. If we apply his career TD rate from 2017-2018 to 2019, he would have scored ~9 TDs. That’d have placed him top-10 among RBs.

Now he gets a full season of Gardner Minshew as the starter. He showed well as a 6th-round rookie, but a step forward is necessary to get this unit closer to league average. The 2019 Jags ranked 26th in total points, 20th in yards and 20th in yards per play.

This O-line is at least competent and returns all 5 starters. In fact, this unit played together throughout 2019, save for 2 missed games from LT Cam Robinson.

Jacksonville added OT Ben Bartch in Round 4 of the draft, although coming from a D-III school, he’s more of a developmental prospect.


Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Fournette, only 25, projects as Jacksonville’s workhorse back once again. There’s injury risk here, but that’ll be the case for anyone with the potential for another top 5 finish in touches.

Following trade rumors, there’s a question of how much the team really wants him. Yet here we are mid- summer — and Fournette’s still a Jaguar.

He's not our favorite Round 3 RB target, and our projections won't have him popping on MVP Boards. But a healthy Fournette looks no worse than a low-end RB2.