Coming out of LSU two years ago, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was highly respected. When he was drafted, many believed that Fournette was going to bring back the power-style to the NFL. However, through three seasons, Fournette has averaged a poor 3.7 rushing yards per attempt. Simply, Fournette has not been contributing to the Jaguars offense.
The Pro Football Network Offensive Share Metric (OSM) lists Fournette with a 15.54 through three games, which is right in the middle of the pack compared to all running backs. This tells us that he does not contribute much on the field, and the same can be said when it comes to fantasy football.
After reviewing the film, it further strengthens the argument that Fournette does not show much upside for fantasy football. Currently, he averages 13.1 fantasy points per game, 21st best for running backs. His running vision and decision making hurt his fantasy rankings and share percentage. Let’s take a look at the film to see why.
In three games, Fournette has averaged 2.3 yards before contact per run. He averages 1.9 yards after contact per run. His vision is lackluster compared to other NFL running backs.
When Fournette first tries to hit the hole, he sits behind the right guard and center. He starts strong by trying to bounce outside to the next open lane.
Next, there are two green lines and a red line. Once a running back bounces outside, he should stick to the outside lanes. Trying to cut back most of the time causes a loss of yards since the defenders cut the field off. Fournette has the opportunity to bounce to the open lanes shown with the green lines. Instead, he bounces back inside to the defense and limits the gain to a couple of yards.
The Jaguars run a halfback power run to the left. Right off the snap, Fournette notices the defensive ends are containing the backside of the play. Since he believes the defensive end will crash hard, Fournette does not decide to take the open cut back hole.
Instead of taking the open lane, Fournette sticks to the script and follows the clogged hole. The open lane gave him a chance to earn a first down, but Fournette’s lack of vision caused him to gain just a couple of yards again. His decision-making coincides with his vision. He does not use his peripheral vision well to make clear decisions off of it.
The Buccaneers begin the play in a 3-4 over front. The defense also dealt six guys on the line to face off against the Jaguars six blockers. Fournette takes the handoff for the halfback dive. Although there are not many open lanes for Fournette, his vision is locked on the front line. He takes his eyes off the second-level defenders and cuts to the lane too late.
By the time he cuts, Buccaneers linebacker Devin White already plugged the hole. The late decision-making and lack of vision caused a loss of a yard on the play.
In the final running clip, Fournette has another zone run. Rather than breaking outside for a few yards, Fournette tries to power through the defensive front. He is not fast, but breaking outside the tackle would have given Fournette a few more yards. The lack of awareness for open lanes shows that he will not ride a fantasy football team to a championship. His power style has not proven to produce extraordinary numbers. In fact, after 43 rushes this season, he has only earned the Jaguars six first downs.
In the Jaguars Week 2 game against the Houston Texans, Fournette’s OSM was 12.13, 17th best. Although it was his lowest rushing game, his passing game was not exquisite either. Fournette will catch check-downs, swings, or Texas routes, but he is not a receiving back. His lack of speed and catching ability hurts him in both fantasy and the Jaguars in the passing game.
On this play, Fournette runs a swing route. Once it is caught, Fournette proves he cannot break a big play.
All Fournette owners in fantasy were happy that he made a first down play, but his lack of speed caused him to limit the gain. The defensive backs were able to crash down and make an angle without worrying that Fournette would be agile enough to juke them.
Fournette runs a Texas route, running a swing then cut back at a 45-degree angle. He opens himself underneath the coverage. Even though the quarterback is under pressure, he releases the ball to Fournette. However, Fournette drops the pass.
If it was caught, Fournette could have turned around and put in an extra 10 yards for the Jaguars and an extra point for his fantasy owners.
At the end of the day, Fournette has not lived up to his potential. His OSM grade is accurate as he is an average running back in the league. With a play-action West Coast offense, Fournette should be a top-seven running back. But for fantasy owners, Fournette is a risk. He will not take any team to a championship and will be as much of a help for your team as the OSM grade shows he helps the Jaguars.
Nick Zeller-Singh is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering the PFN Film Room. You can follow him on Twitter @zickster21.