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Dynasty Fantasy Football: Leonard Fournette, Against the Grain

Everyone seems to be down on Leonard Fournette. Etan Mozia checks in to see if everyone is right.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”  – George S. Patton

The former heavily decorated four-star general has a point…

Leonard Fournette’s brief career to date has been a polarizing subject for a number of dynasty GMs this offseason. The prevailing thought is that Fournette is best viewed as a lost cause and that his “injury prone” nature greatly dampens his dynasty value. While the Jaguars running back is indeed far from a perfect dynasty asset the pendulum of perceived value has swung too far in a negative direction. The former first-round selection still has plenty to offer the value driven dynasty GM and this article will provide some reasoning as to why this is the case.

Opportunity Drives Fantasy Production

There could be no other place to start in defense of Fournette aside from volume. In Fournette’s 13-game rookie season the Jaguars saw fit to average the most rushing attempts in the NFL by quite a margin. 33.1 attempts per game for that team put them a whopping 2.6 carries above the next highest team, the Buffalo Bills. Fournette himself amassed over 20 carries a contest that year which put him on pace for 329 totes on the season. As a point of reference, Ezekiel Elliott led the league last season with 304 carries.

He’s no slouch in the receiving game either. Throughout his short career, Fournette has averaged approximately 3.5 targets a contest. Over the season that share of the receiving work would rank the former LSU Tiger in the top 20 leaguewide. The interesting new part of that receiving equation, however, is that Fournette now won’t have to deal with TJ Yeldon or Corey Grant to steal looks.

RB Performance Is a Function of Their Team

Oftentimes, even backs with excellent rookie seasons find themselves closer to the end of the bench sooner than expected. Why? Because running back production is largely a function of the team they play on. While skill of a back’s offensive line definitely plays a role in running back production, ultimately men in box is the stat that most closely correlates with yards per touch.

Last season Fournette faced eight or more defenders in the box a whopping 35% of the time (3rd NFL). With teams daring the Jags to beat them with Blake Bortles. When Fournette was healthy enough to play, he was the defense’s sole focus. Nick Foles will be an improvement in that regard. In Bortles’ six seasons in the NFL, he never once managed a CPOE (completion percentage over expected) of a positive percentage point. His average over that span was negative five percent. While Foles is less than spectacular in this regard himself, his CPOE averaged approximately negative two percentage points over his career. He should be able to take advantage of stacked boxes in a way Bortles could not.

Leonard Fournette Is Here To Stay

With competition removed from the roster as well as a first-round pedigree all but forcing the Jaguars to stay true to their pick, Fournette won’t have to deal with the presence of a potential replacement on his team. Still under contract for two seasons, the Jaguars don’t financially benefit from muddying the waters of their RB room for some time. With an offseason removed from the hamstring injuries Fournette dealt with due to team mismanagement in bringing him back too soon, he will look to be in line with the most work of his career. As the team should find themselves in the red zone more often than with Bortles, look for Fournette to hit paydirt early and often.

Etan Mozia has been involved with sports as a whole for over two decades and has written about athletics in some capacity since 2005. Focused primarily on the NFL and EPL, Etan has seen his work featured on sites like FantasyPros, Advanced Sports Logic, and FFD260 among others. Currently, his work is housed on FantraxHQ and FantasyPros. An avid lover of dynasty leagues specifically, you can also listen to him on his podcast, The Dynasty Diagnostic (@DynoDiagnostic), as he breaks down rosters and provides pertinent and practical advice for dynasty squads looking to give their team an edge. Follow him on twitter @EtanMozia.

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