2019 Jaguars fantasy football team preview: Is Leonard Fournette an RB1?

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The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may have revealed new uniforms in 2018, but not much else was novel for them the rest of the season. In true Jekyll-and-Hyde fashion, the Jags went from 10-6 in 2017-18 to 5-11 last year. Their once proud and dominant defense found itself with their backs against the walls more often than not as the offense, led by an especially abysmal Blake Bortles, could muster nothing in the way of a positive attack. In fact, the last five weeks of the regular season, the Jaguars scored 6, 9, 13, 17, and 3 points, respectively.

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The Blake Bortles era ended and now Nick Foles has the reins of the offense. Can he be the difference maker in Jacksonville that he was in Philadelphia?

Jacksonville Jaguars fantasy impact players
Jacksonville Jaguars fantasy impact players

Leonard Fournette Confidence Meter:

On a scale from 1-10 (1 being supreme; 10 nonexistent), how would you feel trotting out Leonard Fournette as your RB1 in a 12-team .5 PPR league?

Andy: Um ... SIX? Maybe seven? Seven-point-five? My confidence is not supreme, certainly, because A) Fournette hasn’t yet give us a full season and B) he was a notable bust last year (3.3 YPC).

However, Fournette pretty clearly remains the centerpiece of his team’s offense and he’ll run behind an O-line that has a chance to be very good. As a receiving threat, he’s capable enough to catch 40-50 balls in a healthy season. Fournette also has a 10-TD season on his resume, so it’s clear he has the potential to finish as a top-12-ish fantasy RB. He’s just not my preferred choice at RB1.

Brad: EIGHT. Imagine you hover over a salsa bar. In front of you are four options which escalate left to right in heat intensity. You, an adventurous type who purposely seeks out spice, roll the dice on an option labeled “fire roasted salsa negra.” Instead of spooning conservative amounts onto your chicken taco, you go all in and smother. Soon thereafter you immediately regret the decision knowing the long duration burning sensation you’re bound to experience not once, but twice. That, my fantasy friends, is what it feels like owning Fournette.

No doubt, the rusher is immensely talented. His punishing style, off-edge burst and receiving abilities comprise a three-down skill set. However, Fournette’s flesh is an injury imp favorite. As Behrens mentioned above, he’s yet to tally 16 games in a season. Inevitably, it seems, he’ll limp off the field, costing his investors dearly. Equally disconcerting, even when on the field last season, Fournette was woefully inefficient. Among RBs with at least 50 carries, he ranked RB51 in yards after contact per attempt (2.35) and RB58 in broken tackle percentage (11.3).

Pondering the downsides, there are safer and higher-ceiling options (e.g. Marlon Mack, Aaron Jones and Damien Williams) available around the underachiever’s early-Round 3 price point (27.3 ADP, RB13). Similar to Todd Gurley, the risk exceeds the presumed reward. Let someone else play with fire.

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OVER or UNDER

For the SuperFlex and 2QB crowds, all starting passers possess value. Touchdown tosses for “The Big Richard,” Nick Foles, in his first full season with Jacksonville: 19.5.

Andy: Easy OVER, and I’m not even much of a Foles fan. In this era, a quarterback and/or his team has to be extremely shaky to not hit this total in a healthy season. Derek Carr and Case Keenum were the only guys to play all 16 games last year without throwing at least 20 TD passes. Jacksonville has a few fun (if not spectacular) receiving options, led by Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee. Foles is a perfectly reasonable No. 2 QB.

Liz: OVER. The Jags WR corps may be a mess and the offense figures to be a run-first operation, but it is 100 percent reasonable to expect Foles to averaged 1.2 scores per week over a 16 week season. After all, Blake Bortles averaged just under that in 2018, posting 13 TDs over 13 contests. Even if Jacksonville’s defense rebounds, and Foles’ pass attempts are depressed, a red zone completion percentage of 60 percent (which he has bested over the past two years) would allow for a high-target conversion resulting in at least 20 scores.

PLAYER PICK ‘EM

Which receiving Jaguar owns the most bang for the buck: Dede Westbrook (97.7 ADP, WR41), Marqise Lee (212.1, WR81) or wildcard?

Liz: KEELAN COLE. As discussed on the May 23rd episode of the Yahoo Fantasy Football Podcast, Cole’s ability to win 50/50 balls makes him the best fit for Foles’ sandlot stylings. And if you don’t believe me, rewatch Cole’s complete owning of Eric Rowe in Week 2 of the 2018 season. The looks may not have been plentiful for Cole last year, but of 52 catchable targets the Kentucky native hauled in 38 balls, making his true completion percentage 74 percent. It’s my prediction that he and Foles become fast friends.

Brad: DEDE WESTBROOK. The former Heisman finalist is one of the virtual game’s most underappreciated WRs. Yes, Jacksonville’s buttoned-down offense isn’t the fantasy friendliest, but Westbrook’s ROI potential is significant.

Quietly, the third-year receiver made strides in several advanced categories last year. He ranked No. 25 in yards after catch and No. 14 in red-zone target share, becoming a go-to option on third downs. WR33 in on-target catch percentage in 2018 with Blake Bortles, he should take another step forward with Foles at the controls. Roughly 75 receptions for 900 yards and 6-8 TDs is doable. Accomplish that and he’ll be a reliable WR3 even in 10-team leagues.

Best Ball Bargain Bin

Andy: Look, not every NFL team has an ideal best ball sleeper on the roster. Jacksonville is such a team. You want me to tell you that Keelan Cole is some sort of sleeper? Alfred Blue? Ryquell? Meh.

Brad: RYQUELL ARMSTEAD. Last year at the collegiate level with Temple, the 5-foot-11, 223-pound bruiser thrived in a zone scheme, a system OC John DeFilippo will likely implement. He gained 3.1 yards after contact per attempt and averaged a sizable 5.8 yards per carry on inside runs.

Knowing Fournette would probably get injured in a competitive game of pickle ball and given the other stiffs on the depth chart, it’s foreseeable Armstead earns a start or three at some point this year. His vision and downhill brawn are attractive qualities worthy enough for a late-round stab.

Mad Bets (From FanDuel Sportsbook): Jacksonville 7.5 wins OVER (-165) or UNDER (+140)

Andy: UNDER. If Fournette and his offensive line stays healthy, there’s clearly a chance for this team to do better than .500. But if I’m wagering, I’d say this has the look of a 7-9 team that lacks the firepower necessary to challenge Indy and Houston.

Liz: UNDER.Yeah, no. While I believe the Jags will best their 5-11 record from last year, the offensive pieces available seem unlikely to outpace those within the rest of the division. Even if the defense bounces back, matchups outside of the division are tough as the team will face three high-octane offenses: KC, NO, and ATL.

Stay tuned for more Fantasy Football team previews!

AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington

AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans

NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons

AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns

Follow Brad: @YahooNoise

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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