Updated: Jul 22, 2021
During Monday’s early hours, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that they would be cutting their starting running back Leonard Fournette. The decision comes after the Jags declined his fifth-year option, along with being unsuccessful in their efforts to trade him.
During his tenure in Jacksonville, Fournette rushed for over 2,600 yards in 36 games, along with 19 total touchdowns. While the news may cause some Fournette fantasy owners to panic, there should be no cause for concern as of right now. Immediately after his release, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians complimented Fournette, claiming “He’s a good player. We have to see where he fits.” Fournette could be the missing piece of the puzzle for Tampa Bay, as their offense is phenomenal in all areas except the running back position. If taken, I expect Fournette to obtain the majority of the carries for the Bucs, as we have yet to see the full potential of Ronald Jones II and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
Another team in contention for Fournette could be the LA Chargers, as he could fill the role of a power back, with Austin Ekeler filling the role of a receiving back. Chicago also seems to be an intriguing option for Fournette, as David Montgomery recently suffered a groin injury that could keep him out for most of September.
Either way, Leonard Fournette fantasy owners should have nothing to worry about. But what about the remaining Jags running backs? Which ones should fantasy owners pick up?
Well, there isn’t much to go off of. Ryquell Armstead has only been in Jacksonville for one year, but succeeded in his only game starting. In Week 17, he had 10 carries for 33 yards, but made up for it through the air, scoring 5 catches on 52 yards and a touchdown. This performance alone doesn’t completely sell me on Armstead, but he should be in your waiver claims soon.
The other option, Chris Thompson, signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville during the offseason. Thompson is now reunited with his former head coach Jay Gruden, Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator. Thompson has the experience and has proven that he can get it done, as shown in his 2017 campaign. He had 151 PPR points through ten games, but fractured his fibula in Week 11, bringing his season to an end. Without his injury, he’d have likely finished that season as the 8th ranked running back. Three years later, as he is turning thirty, I’m not sure if he can put up those same numbers.
If possible, my recommendation is that you can handcuff both Armstead and Thompson, and wait a few weeks to see which one outperforms the other. Chances are that one of these running backs will put up flex, or perhaps even RB2 numbers in PPR leagues.