The Curious Case of Leonard Fournette

Earlier this week, Tampa Bay made the intriguing move of picking up the recently released Leonard Fournette. Now, this would be an amazing pickup for any offense that lacked RB depth or has to cover for an injury. However, Tampa is quite the opposite with the likes of Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and more on the depth chart already, making the Fournette pickup all the more puzzling. Now the question lies, how valuable is he now and how should you proceed?

              First off, we’ll start with his draft value. While he was still in Jacksonville, he was being picked around the late 2nd-early 3rd and was being valued as a dependable RB2 with RB1 upside. However, his issue was and always will be that his value was not from big play potential but rather the fact that he was going to get all the touches there. Now, take that volume away and what is he really worth? Since the pickup, many fantasy owners are avoiding him like the plague, his ADP has already fallen to the late 4th-early 5th round and I’ve heard stories of players getting him as late as the 13th and 14th round which would make him an amazing late-round stash target should he carve out a prominent role.

              Now that we know how fantasy owners feel, it’s important to see what his own coach is saying about him. Bruce Arians is already saying that Ronald Jones is the week 1 RB1, despite him having his own issues and only having 20 or more touches in a game twice all of last season. Now, to the untrained eye, it may look like a smoke screen to keep us guessing. However, knowing that Arians has made interesting personnel decisions like this before (ex. OJ Howard getting equal targets to Cameron Brate last season), it wouldn’t be unprecedented to make a proven back like Fournette work for a useful role. As well, from a statistical perspective, there’s a case to be made that Jones may in fact be the RB1 for the foreseeable future.

              When we dig into the deeper stats, we can see that Jones is ,in fact, more explosive than the former #4 overall pick. Jones has a higher yards per target, big run rate, yards created per touch and most importantly, more fantasy points per opportunity. In case you’re not familiar with the meaning of those stats, I’ll sum it up briefly. Jones is more explosive and in a perfectly equal setting, is more likely to produce the higher fantasy points. Factor in that early on, Jones factors to get more touches, it makes the case for Rojo as the more productive back all the more appealing.

              In short, this Bucs backfield is crowded with talented backs and there’s a good chance that roles are fluid on a week-to-week basis all season. As far as redraft goes, if there’s better RB options available in the middle of the draft, take them. However, if Fournette is available late in the draft, jump all over him, he’s one of the best safety net picks to have on your bench should Jones get injured or play himself out of the RB1.

              Now, I want to give a huge shoutout to our stats guy here at RDFHQ, Andrew Metcalfe (@drewmet89 on Twitter)! He provided me with all the advanced stats for this article and we’ll be continuing to work together all season so I can’t wait to keep churning out content with him! Drew is also a talented writer himself, go and check out his most recent article, the link is below. Finally, go check out my brand new podcast (link below!) if you haven’t already, there will be a new fantasy football focused episode coming out next week!

              Stay tuned for more fire content all season long, and keep it real!

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