The news of Leonard Fournette’s release was a shocking start to this week, but drama has been afoot in Jacksonville for months.
It certainly does not reflect well on the 2017 No. 4 overall pick that the Jaguars could not get “anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything,” according to head coach Doug Marrone, or that he was released before the end of his rookie contract. The transaction will also cost them nearly $4.5 million in dead cap space, though it’s possible some of that will be alleviated in the grievance process.
Here’s what to do for fantasy football:
How to react if you drafted Fournette
Work ethic concerns aside, Fournette’s biggest criticism is his inefficiency and workload-dependent production. He has a career 3.95 yards per carry, but has broken the 1,000-yard mark twice in three NFL seasons. This means he would have to end up in a workhorse role to justify the capital most managers had to spend to draft him, an unlikely immediate prospect given the paltry of such roles available. That said, the reality of the running back position lends itself to volatility and high turnover due to injuries, so he could end up in a good fantasy situation at some point this season.
While the situation isn’t ideal right now, it’s unlikely this is the end for the 25-year-old former first-rounder from LSU. Teams such as the Bears, whose feature running back David Montgomery suffered an injury during training camp last week, could be interested in picking up the low-risk investment. Other teams — such as the Patriots, Buccaneers and Washington, who are relatively lean at the position — could also give Fournette a look once he hits the waiver wire this week.
Don’t do anything rash like dropping or trading him for pennies on the dollar before knowing where he lands.
Whom to pick up regardless
The hot name to roster is Ryquell Armstead, a 2019 fifth-round New Jersey-native who played for Temple. He had a quiet rookie season with 35 attempts for 108 yards, and 14 catches for 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list on Aug. 2 and was removed on Aug. 20.
The next man up on the Jaguars’ depth chart after Armstead is Chris Thompson, followed by Devine Ozigbo and James Robinson. Thompson, 29, was a fifth-round pick back in 2013 and spent seven seasons with Washington before heading to Jacksonville in May. He is a pass-catcher who has averaged 41 catches over the past five years and offers a change of pace in third-down situations. He’s worth stashing on the bench in deeper leagues that award points per reception.
Ozigbo was a 2019 undrafted free agent who played for Nebraska. Robinson was an undrafted free agent this year from Illinois State.