Leonard Fournette's Best Landing Spots, Fantasy Value Amid Jaguars Trade Rumors

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 19, 2020

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is reportedly on the trading block, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The 25-year-old out of LSU gained 4.3 yards per carry en route to a career-high 1,152 rushing yards last season. He also caught 76 passes for 522 yards and gained 4.9 yards per touch.

The Jags may not encounter much trouble finding a new home for Fournette, as a few teams still have some uncertainty on their running back depth chart post-free agency.

Here's a look at four places where Fournette may wind up alongside commentary on his fantasy value in that potential new location.

The landing spots are listed from least to most likely.


Los Angeles Rams

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The Los Angeles Rams, who are salary cap-strapped and sitting without a first-round pick for the next two seasons, saw the writing on the wall this offseason and dealt two key components of their Super Bowl LIII team in running back Todd Gurley and wideout Brandin Cooks.

The Rams are assuming millions in dead cap space after signing both to long-term deals not long ago, but the transactions will eventually help L.A. climb out of its salary-cap hole.

But L.A. now has a question mark at RB1, where Gurley sat for five years.

Darrell Henderson, the team's third-round pick in 2019, could be the pick. He rushed for 3.8 yards per carry last year.

The Rams also can opt to fill that spot with Fournette and deal a mid-round pick to Jacksonville, but the Rams' modus operandi right now should be to dig themselves back into a position where they aren't behind the eightball in picks and cap space.

Picking up Fournette accomplishes neither and only serves to help the short-term versus the long-term.

Still, Fournette would be a viable RB1 candidate in L.A. Right now, he's listed as the 11th-highest running back per average draft position in points-per-reception leagues, according to Fantasy Pros. He's also 25th overall and appears to be available around the Rounds 2-3 turn in 12-team leagues.

Fournette could see greater success with the Rams (10th in scoring last year) versus the Jags (26th) simply by virtue of having more opportunities to score. Consider him a low-end RB1 if he becomes a Ram.


Los Angeles Chargers

The two-headed backfield featuring Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler is no more as the Los Angeles Chargers let Gordon walk in free agency to the Denver Broncos.

The question now is whether the Bolts decide to give former third-stringer Justin Jackson more reps or acquire a rookie in the draft to pick up some of Gordon's leftover workload. Giving Ekeler the rock more seems like a possibility as well.

Another option could be picking up Fournette via trade, allowing him to immediately absorb all of the volume Gordon left behind.

The issue is the Chargers don't have any extra picks in this year's draft outside the one they have in each round, and running back isn't a discernible need compared to other spots, such as the offensive line, quarterback and linebacker.

Plus, Jackson is no slouch with the ball, gaining 6.9 yards per carry on his 29 rushes last year.

However, if Fournette landed with the Bolts, then he'd be a clear RB1 on a talented offense that could explode in 2020, regardless of whether the Chargers go with veteran Tyrod Taylor or a rookie QB thanks to a talented skill-position group.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There's a sizable gap between the likelihood of the Florida teams on this list in acquiring Fournette than there is for the L.A. franchises.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have kick-started a two-year championship window after acquiring six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady via free agency.

Brady, 42, signed a two-year deal. Perhaps he somehow sticks around even longer, but the Bucs could make some more moves with his contract in mind, as the team has no clear-cut answer at QB after 2021.

Fournette would supplant Ronald Jones II as the Bucs' RB1. The USC product fared well with the Bucs last year (1,033 scrimmage yards, six touchdowns) but isn't in the ex-LSU star's class.

In turn, Fournette could see a ton of action. He caught 76 passes with the Jags last year and could equal that or better it with head coach Bruce Arians' aerial attack. That would make him a great asset in PPR leagues.

Furthermore, the Bucs offense has explosive potential, to the point where envisioning the team finishing top five in the league in scoring is viable.

In that respect, Fournette could find himself with plenty of scoring opportunities, making him one of the better fantasy backs in the league.

Fournette would be a clear first-round running back choice in full-point PPR leagues and could make a case as the No. 4 back overall behind the Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey, the New York Giants' Saquon Barkley and the New Orleans Saints' Alvin Kamara.


Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins hold a treasure trove of draft picks and a good amount of cap space despite being the most active team in free agency.

Miami has three first-rounders this year alone in addition to a pair of second-rounders, three fifth-rounders and three seventh-rounders. One pick each has the Dolphins' name on it in Rounds 3, 4 and 6.

It would be surprising to see Fournette go anywhere for anything more than a late Day 2 pick or a couple of Day 3 selections. A package of their third and a late fifth might do the trick if Jacksonville is up for it.

Miami could also pick a running back in the draft, but acquiring Fournette would almost be a luxury given that they have the picks to burn.

Furthermore, the Dolphins have gone through a running back roulette since the end of the Jay Ajayi era.

Jordan Howard, formerly of the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, would appear to be RB1 right now after signing a two-year deal.

Howard was excellent at the beginning of his career with 5.7 yards per touch, but his production has tailed off a bit since then (4.2 YPT since).

Howard did suffer injuries that kept him out for six games last year, in fairness, and it's possible he just needs a fresh start. But it's also feasible that Howard is best suited as a backup or part of a committee at this point in his career.

Fournette could handle the bulk of the workload while Howard comes off the bench to give the ex-LSU star some rest. It would be a potent rushing attack that could help alleviate some pressure from a potential rookie franchise signal-caller who could be calling the shots this year given the Dolphins' need for a long-term QB.

In Miami, Fournette is a clear Round 2 fantasy pick and a top-10 running back choice. He's viable as a lead back so long as one goes for a stud wideout in Round 1 to anchor the team.


Salary-cap information via Over the Cap unless otherwise noted.