Not many Fantasy running backs are candidates for 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns, but Fournette is. The bruiser averaged a healthy 20.6 carries and 2.8 catches per game, the kind of workload all Fantasy owners crave. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry on the year but was good for 4.6 yards per rush before hurting his ankle in Week 6 (and posting 3.3 yards per run in his remaining 10 games). When healthy, he's a force, but even when he's playing through small injuries he comes through with pretty good stats thanks to his volume and goal-line work. The Jaguars also improved their offensive line this offseason to further cement their run-first status. It's the kind of aligned-stars Fantasy situation all owners chase after. It's even sweeter that Fournette won't get taken until after the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. The first round is where you'll find Fournette in any format, more than likely after the fifth overall pick.
Fournette carried eight times for 12 yards and a touchdown during Saturday's preseason contest against the Vikings. He also caught both his targets for 17 yards. Fournette averaged just 2.9 yards per touch against a stout defensive unit, but he capped off a long touchdown drive with a one-yard plunge to start the second quarter. The big back will take on a massive load this season, so the team has taken it easy on him during training camp in order to preserve him. That said, he should see an increased responsibility next week against the Falcons.
Fournette said he now weighs 223 pounds, Jeff Duncan of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Fournette has made good on his stated intention to return to his typical college weight around 225 pounds, after playing most of his rookie season at 230-235. He actually checked in at 240 during last year's combine, yet still managed to run the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds. With his size-speed combination proven to be rare at any weight, Fournette presumably shed pounds in an effort to improve his acceleration and agility, which seems like a wise decision on the heels of a rookie campaign in which he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry despite breaking off runs of 90 and 75 yards. Of course, a mediocre offensive line was also part of the problem, and the Jaguars responded in March when they signed guard Andrew Norwell to a five-year, $66.5 million contract. While Fournette likely will sub out for T.J. Yeldon or Corey Grant on passing downs, the 23-year-old bruiser is still the unquestioned centerpiece of Jacksonville's offense, not to mention a legitimate candidate to lead the league in goal-line carries.
Fournette expects to enter training camp at 224 pounds, which is 11 pounds lighter than he was last season, John Reid of The Florida Times-Union reports. "I feel like I play my best at that weight -- 223, 224 -- that's what I played in college," the second-year running back said. "Why not? I don't want to be average. I want to be above average, be the greatest one to play this game. I feel lighter, quicker and I have a lot of my burst." The Jaguars led the league in rushing behind Fournette last season with 141.4 yards per game. However, he struggled to break free for runs over 10 yards, as is evident by his 3.9 yards per carry. Teams stacked the box against the Jaguars as the season progressed, resulting in an average of less than four yards per carry for Fournette in five of the final seven games. Now, he heads into camp lighter with a more concerted effort to stay in better shape in order to avoid injuries throughout the season -- he missed two contests last season due to ankle and thigh issues. Behind a revamped offensive line which includes the addition of former Panthers All-Pro Andrew Norwell at guard, Fournette will enter camp as the undisputed workhorse as he looks to evolve from his power back perception, with T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant competing for the role of third-down back.
The Jaguars reinforced their commitment to Fournette and the running game with the offseason signing of left guard Andrew Norwell, ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco reports. Norwell received the richest contract in league history for an interior lineman, though Cowboys G Zack Martin has since received a slightly larger deal. The Jaguars still don't have a dominant offensive line, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a downgrade from Marcedes Lewis as a blocker. However, the combination of Norwell and center Brandon Linder at least creates a clear area of strength in the left A-gap. The upgrade should help Fournette improve on his rookie-year mark of 3.9 yards per carry, though it's concerning that his average drops to 3.3 YPC if his two longest runs are removed. Regardless, the Jaguars seemingly intend to maintain Fournette's workload in the range of last season's 20.6 carries and 3.7 targets per game. T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant will get some snaps, especially on passing downs, but the team is committed to Fournette as its centerpiece.
Fournette ran for 76 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while adding 13 yards on two catches during Sunday's 24-20 loss in New England. Fournette put the Jaguars up by 11 in the second quarter when he bulldozed up the middle through New England's front for a four-yard score. His impact from then on was minimal as the Patriots focused on taking away the run game and forcing Blake Bortles to throw the ball in disadvantageous downs and distances. The formula worked. Fournette is an athletic freak who saw a whopping 23.4 touches per game in the regular season and another 25.7 in the playoffs. His failure to average four yards per carry can be attributed, in large part, to the ability of opposing defenses to key on him with Jacksonville's iffy pass offense. Look for Jacksonville to try to improve its pass offense in 2018 in order to open up more looks for its big power back.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||@New York Giants||21||17.88|
|2||09/16||New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|4||09/30||New York Jets||24||18.50|
|5||10/07||@Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||268||1040||9||36||302||1||194|