What’s Next For Fournette?

Updated: September 3rd 2020

With the sudden release of Leonard Fournette, fantasy players are left scrambling to find out what it means for the Jaguars and what it means for Fournette. Here are a couple teams (in no particular order) that are possible landing spots for Fournette based on their financial commitment to the running back position in 2020 and the positional need. Because of his unique contract situation, some teams could be looking to claim Fournette and use this season as an audition before committing to him long term if they choose.

Keep in mind that no matter where Fournette lands it will likely take him a few weeks to become acquainted with his new offense and will likely be at least in a rotation with current backs on the team. There are very few options where he would return to exactly the same value and volume that he held while in Jacksonville.

Chicago Bears

The injury this preseason to David Montgomery only compounded to his disappointing 2019 season. His backup (Cordarrelle Patterson) is a converted WR and Tarik Cohen is more of a passing down/spread formation option. The Bears need to find a way to help either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky and Fournette is an already accomplished runner who can take some of pressure off. It would definitely help to not have their formations as easily to read as they were when either Montgomery or Cohen were on the field since Fournette has proven to be both a strong runner and pass catcher.


Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Pederson rarely gives a full workload to just one back. He is always looking to have a spell option for his main guy. Sanders would definitely be the 1A if the Eagles picked up Fournette but the usage would likely mimic what the Saints were doing with Kamara and Ingram a couple seasons ago. It would be a huge blow to both their fantasy value unless the offense was to take another step forward in terms of scoring opportunities.


New England Patriots

The Patriots are likely going to be more of a run-heavy team in 2020 regardless of whether it is Cam Newton or Jared Stittham under center. Having Fournette would amplify that and provide another rotational back for Josh McDaniels to roll out on tired defenses. Fournette would also be the best running back that Belichick has had since Corey Dillon and we know how that worked out.


Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins traded for Matt Breida and still have Jordan Howard. Still, Fournette would be a better option than either and for a team that wants to be trending upward this would become a sneaky good offense with him in their lineup. For the reasons I like New England, Brian Flores is a Belichick disciple and expect he would recognize value when he sees the opportunity.


Los Angeles Chargers

A dark horse, the Bolts don’t really have a true thumper at the position. Ekeler was just paid but the team could use a 1B to keep him fresh. With Fournette’s contract only for 2020 it would be an easy catch and release scenario for a team that has trouble keeping players healthy for a full season.


Seattle Seahawks

Penny has struggled to stay healthy, same with Carson, and the team has been looking to find their next Marshawn Lynch ever since he left (then returned briefly). Fournette could learn the system over the first month or so behind Carson and be ready to take the reigns by mid-season and into the playoffs (when Seattle really needs him).

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The Unstable Stable

Updated: November 3rd 2016

Dynasty football and redraft football are nothing alike. What do I mean by that? Well, if we think of fantasy football in meteorological terms we can compare redraft to the Weather, a constantly changing natural phenomenon that so-called “experts” seem to predict no better than you and I. It can be summarized perfectly in this tweet by @CommishTalkBlog. Does this sound like a familiar situation to some of your teams?

Bad RB Tweet

Now if we look at dynasty, it’s more like the Climate, where it takes time to change but there definitely a change nevertheless. Two years ago everyone was SURE Eddy Lacy was a top 5 running back for years to come. Now he might not even make it to a second contract; even if he does it’s not likely with the Packers. People always talk about players and their values as if it’s something that will remain the same year over year. I’ve been playing long enough to notice a one year wonder when I see one.

**Full disclosure I was once the guy in my draft that took Zac Stacy in the 3rd round of my 2014 redraft league**

I’ll admit when I make a mistake, Mr. David Johnson I’m sorry, but I would rather invest in something I know IS good versus paying for something that MIGHT BE great. RSO dynasty emphasizes these mistakes even more by having salaries attached to players. If you miss in a redraft you find a new guy next week on the wire. Miss in RSO, oh boy, you could have a very expensive placeholder on your bench for multiple years.

So here we are midway through the 2016 season and we’ve already had some new and old faces push their way into the fantasy limelight. But we need to think about the long term and with a decent class of talent coming in the way of rookies next year who can we expect to hold a grip on their team and who could be this year’s Zac Stacy? I’m going to go through five (5) teams that I think are likely to draft a running back early next year. I’m not going to list the obvious teams (Patriots and Colts) instead focusing on teams with RB situations that seem stable now but could be very different come May next year.

  • Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins – Jay Ajayi

Wait what? Nothing says stability like a guy who gets 200 rushing yards in back to back games right? Remember that before the season started this was the same team that tried to sign away C.J. Anderson from the Broncos before he was brought back. Then they went and drafted Kenyan Drake in the 4th round and then added a broken Arian Foster because they still weren’t sure of their starting running back. Ajayi had severe knee issues coming into the league and it was a concern about how long of a career he could have (which is why he fell all the way to the 5th round). He may have hit his max return value right now and if you can sell him for any number of more proven RBs I would be smashing that “accept” button. It would not surprise me if they took an RB before the end of day 2 of the draft in 2017.

  • Minnesota VikingsMinnesota – Adrian Peterson, Jerrick McKinnon

While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see AP moving on after the end of the season people are ready to move McKinnon right into the starting role for 2017. As someone who both owns and owned McKinnon in RSO, I was high on what he could do as the pass catching threat next to AP. Sadly, he still hasn’t been able to shake off Matt Asiata for the lead role after AP’s injury so what makes you think that he could keep an incoming rookie off the pedestal? The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league and therefore I could easily see them being one of the first teams to take a running back off the board. Honestly, if they get their hands on any of the top four in the class (Fournette, Chubbs, Cook, or McCaffrey) that’s my early prediction for the 1.01 next year.

  • Philadelphia EaglesPhiladelphia Eagles – Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood

Doug Pederson found himself a quarterback in 2016. Many questioned his move up to number two for an unknown project player in Carson Wentz. Nobody is questioning him anymore but what Pederson really thrives with is a smart, shifty running back that can move the ball on the group and through the air. You look at his previous backs and you see shapeshifters like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and even all the way back to Brian Westbrook. Darren Sproles is the guy closest to those guys right now but he’s 33 years old and not in their long term plan. Smallwood seems more like a special teams player at this point and we can’t rely on Mathews to be healthy year over year. We could see a similar scenario with Mathews as his former running mate Demarco Murray is right now where they draft someone younger (Henry) and groom him behind the veteran before giving him the full load.

  • Pittsburgh SteelersPittsburgh Steelers – Le’Veon Bell

This one is less based on talent and more on circumstances. One of the best running backs in the league, Bell sure does come with his baggage. Suspended each of the last two seasons for substance abuse he is walking a very thin line in what is quickly becoming known as the “No Fun League”. Skeptics will be quick to remind me of the same problems that were clouding Ben Roethlisberger early in his career and he seems to have turned it around nicely under the management of the Rooney family. However, we’ve already seen glimpses of what Bell is expecting to be paid when his contract expires and while some teams may be more lenient to offer a troubled superstar a boatload of cash I don’t see the proud Steelers franchise being bullied into a contract. They did it when they let Mike Wallace walk to the Dolphins. Maybe they double down on their principles and draft an RB that could be leading the Steelers in the 2018 season.

  • Oakland RaidersOakland Raiders – Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington

Some people might say that this is an obvious choice to be selecting a running back. But those are also likely the same people that said Murray was going to lose the job this year and Washington was going to be the starter by midseason. Well, we’re halfway through the season and save for a couple of games that he was injured Murray has held a strong lead in the depth chart rankings. That is not to say that it will remain the same next year. This year’s class of RBs had an obvious lack of depth behind Elliot, Henry and maybe now Booker. But next year is a whole different ball game and there may also be a couple of free agents (looking at Lacy) that could be available for the right price. If the Raiders are indeed moving to Las Vegas they may be looking to do the same as the Rams did and make a big splash before moving. They already have the young budding QB to WR combo. Jack Del Rio may be looking to add that final piece to his triumvirate.

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Cap Analysis: Dolphins

Updated: February 24th 2016

Miami Dolphins

Trending: Slightly Down ↓

The Dolphins have not had a winning season since 2008 – I do not believe they will snap that streak in 2016. The team hired former Jets general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, to be the Executive Vice President of Football Operations a year ago, and the organization has several former Jets staffers. New head coach Adam Gase followed John Fox to Chicago last year after interviewing for the 49ers head coaching position (hired Jim Tomsula) and the Broncos (hired Gary Kubiak). Gase did not play college football, but Peyton Manning referred to Gase as the “smartest guy I know” before Super Bowl 48. I don’t believe you have to be a former player to be a successful head coach or GM, but I know that NFL players tend to have more respect for guys who have played at a high level. The Dolphins have a number of free agents, and very little cap space after major investments in 2015.

Projected 2016 Team Salary$155.4M (not including escalators and NLTBE* incentives)
*Not Likely To Be Earned

Projected 2016 Cap Room: ~$7.7M (~$154M Estimate; ~$9.1M Rollover)

Situation: Very Weak 

The Dolphins top 51 contracts total $155.4M, more than the projected 2016 cap of $154M, but the team has some room because of rolled over space. The team signed Ndamukong Suh to a monster 6-year contract last March, and followed that up with a Ryan Tannenhill extension, even though the front office that drafted him was gone. The Dolphins have a number of other expensive veteran contracts, a number of notable free agents, and very little cap room to work with. The roster definitely has a lot of talent, but they have been mediocre for a long time with seven straight seasons between 8-8 and 6-10 – and that’s the hardest place to be in the NFL.

Notable Free Agents:

Miami FAs

The Dolphins have more impact players reaching free agency than most teams. Matt Moore has thrown only 30 passes since 2012, but I still believe he’s one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Louis Delmas didn’t take the field in 2015, but was supposed to be one of the Dolphins starting safeties before a pre-season injury. Without releasing some other veterans to create cap space, the team probably can’t afford to keep Olivier Vernon (25.5 sacks since 2013) because there’s always a market for pass rushers. Lamar Miller turns only 25 in April, but it’s hard to see him returning (which will be a dream come true for all of the Jay Ajayi fantasy owners). Rishard Matthews has had an up and down four years in Miami, but seemed to be putting things together before his 2015 rib injury. The team has invested in Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker, Greg Jennings, and Kenny Stills in one form or another, so Matthews is not likely to be back unless the team decides to part ways with Jennings or Stills.

Top Projected Cap Hits:

Top Proj Cap Hits

There’s nearly $110M in 2016 cap charges on this list. There’s a lot of talent on this list, but there’s also some aging players on this list. If the team keeps each of these contracts intact, it will be forced to sit out in free agency and build through the draft.

Cap Casualty Watch List:

Miami Cap Cas

Cameron Wake’s 70 sacks rank fifth among all players since he entered the league as a 27-year old rookie in 2009. But, he’s 34 years old entering the final year of his contract, and will count for almost $10M against the cap. Brent Grimes is 32 coming off a mediocre season, and his fiery wife created multiple distractions during the season – that’s a recipe for an early departure. Dion Jordan has been a major bust since the team drafted him third overall in 2013. He’s under contract for another year even without his fifth year option, but the team could save $3.2M by moving on. Greg Jennings first year in Miami was not as productive as anyone had hoped, and he could easily find himself looking for a new place to play soon.

Extension Watch List: 

Miami Ext Watch List

Dion Jordan didn’t make the list, even though the team has the option to extend his rookie contract through 2017. Reshad Jones had his best season as a professional in 2015, but is already the seventh highest paid safety in the NFL. The team would probably be happy to extend his contract and reduce his cap figure, but Jones may prefer to play on his contract and reach free agency just after his 29th birthday.

Position Needs: 

Defensive End, Linebacker, Corner.

Sleeper Watch: 

I like Jay Ajayi’s chances to have a good year. 

Matt Papson (@RealitySportsMP) formerly worked in football administration for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the President, co-founder and creator of Reality Sports Online, a fantasy front office platform that enables fantasy owners to build and manage their fantasy team like a professional sports general manager. The Reality Sports Online platform has been featured in Fortune, on Bloomberg TV, and was the 2012 Fantasy Sports Trade Association Rookie of the Year.

Sources: Spotrac, Pro-Football Reference, and Rotoworld

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