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Fantasy DFS Outlook: Jacksonville Jaguars Backfield

Leonard Fournette
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 29: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) looks on during Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp on August 29, 2020 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl.(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)

Season long fantasy football is not the same thing as DFS. There certainly are similarities when it comes to player evaluation and the knowledge base but that is where it stops. When it comes to game theory and strategy, the road splits into completely opposite directions. Your success will be dependent upon recognizing that fact and traveling down the correct road.

Leonard Fournette’s ($6,000 DK, $6,900 FD) release is a big deal for multiple reasons. At this point in the off-season Fournette either was or was slated to be a third or fourth round draft choice depending upon if you had your draft yet. That is clearly on hold now. Fournette will likely surface somewhere else with some fantasy value, but for those who have already drafted labeling him as a bust for the 2020 season is a likely outcome.

The fact that Jacksonville released Fournette two weeks prior to the start of the season is…

telling and also not exactly surprising at the same time. He was never a target of mine going into season although I will be keeping an eye out to see where he lands. My avoidance was based mostly on the price as Fournette wasn’t offering much in the way of upside. Last season he gained,152 yards on the ground but scored just three touchdowns. Surprisingly, Fournette was busy in the passing game as Jacksonville quarterbacks targeted him 100 times which he turned into 76 receptions and 522 yards.

On surface that looks like a pretty solid season. The problem though is that fantasy football is not cumulative. It is weekly. With 561 of Fournette’s rushing yards (49%) coming in four weeks, fantasy owners were left holding the bag in the other 11 weeks.

Fantasy football is all about opportunity. With Fournette out of the picture, then who? That is what we have to figure out. Before we go any further, we shouldn’t be expecting any one player to completely fill Fournette’s shoes. But we did need to look into the past before looking forward.   

Right now is when the DFS player must take a road different from season long player. Having the knowledge that this is necessary is what allows you to be successful at both games. Well not really just successful, but profitable. Isn’t that truly the name of the game?

While the season long player rushes to the waiver wire or to adjust their rankings in an attempt to capitalize on Fournette’s release, the savvy DFS player waits. Just because there will be a beneficiary it doesn’t mean you have to rush to roster them. Especially in Week One. Adopting a wait and see approach is certainly reasonable.

With Fournette out of the picture, who stands to benefit? We can make things easy and say it won’t be Chris Thompson ($4,000 DK, $4,800 FD). This is not a knock on Thompson. Health has always been an issue for the explosive pass catching back and the coaching staff is aware of that. In his first year with Jacksonville after leaving Washington I wouldn’t expect to see Thompson’s role change. His career high in carries is 68 and that won’t get broken this season.

What will change though, and only if he stays healthy and I know how big of a question mark that is, is Thompson’s career high of 49 receptions. Someone has to replace Fournette’s 100 targets from last season and Thompson should be that guy. Even before Fournette’s release that was likely the case though. But with Gardner Minshew potentially under center for a full season, it is very likely that there aren’t 100 targets to be had out of Jacksonville’s backfield. At least to the extent that Fournette’s targets developed as a lot of them were of the check down and dump off variety. While Thompson does have PPR value, the fact that he isn’t a threat on the ground and has an unclear role does limit his upside.

Ryquell Armstead ($4,000 DK, $4,600 FD) is where the upside lies. In a season long league that is who I am rushing out to grab. DFS is a different animal though. Is it upside with Armstead, or is it the role? While it appears that Armstead has the job, what can we expect from him?

The price is appealing on Armstead, but don’t let that blind you. Last season he carried the ball 35 times for 108 yards in a backup role while catching 14 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. With no preseason games to use as a judge, is Armstead really worth the investment?

Armstead has size and speed but he has yet to prove it at the NFL level. Sure he can bust out and there is limited competition for carries with Devine Ozigbo ($4,000 DK, $4,500 FD) sporting 27 career rushing yards, but he can very easily be a dud. Jacksonville has yet to prove they can run the ball consistently and who those carries will go to. It is a situation to watch, but despite the cheap price, there is more risk than reward when it comes to Armstead for Week One. Even if he is slated to be the starting running back.

So, what did you think?

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