UPDATE 9:19 p.m.: Leonard Fournette has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will compete with Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield.
UPDATE Wed 9:25 a.m.: Leonard Fournette went on waivers after the Jaguars released him and he was not claimed by any team. He is now free to sign anywhere.
UDPATE 2:20 p.m.: The Cincinnati Bengals hold the top spot on the waiver wire due to their spot in the 2020 draft order. The top five spots in waiver priority are the Bengals, Washington, the Lions, Giants, and then the Dolphins. The highest priority team to put in a claim gets Fournette. Washington makes a lot of sense having released Derrius Guice after a domestic violence arrest.
UPDATE 8:19 a.m.: The Jaguars have made the news official.
We have waived RB Leonard Fournette.— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 31, 2020
Four months after declining running back Leonard Fournette’s fifth-year option, the Jacksonville Jaguars are moving on from the former first round pick. The team has waived him, according to ESPN reporter Michael DiRocco. Jacksonville had voided $4.2 million in guarantees following the running back’s one-game suspension in 2018, but that is in the grievance process. They will carry $4,471,524 in dead money with the release, but could clear out much of that if they win the grievance.
The Jaguars had been attempting to trade Fournette all offseason, according to multiple reports, but nothing had come of it. Fournette is now subject to the waiver wire, which means any of the other 31 teams can put in a claim on him. He is due a base salary of $4,167,393 this year if a team claims him off waivers.
Fournette is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,152 yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 4.3 yards per carry over 15 games. He led the team with 76 receptions last season, but he was woefully inefficient, ranking 42nd in DYAR at Football Outsiders among running backs with at least 25 passes in their direction. The Jaguars spent the fourth overall pick on him in the 2017 NFL Draft. He rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, although he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry.
Ryquell Armstead is likely to get the first look, ahead of Devine Ozigbo on the depth chart, although neither is a proven commodity. The Jaguars signed Chris Thompson this offseason to add a boost out of the backfield to the passing game. Jacksonville did not invest in the position in the draft, but did sign Nathan Cottrell and James Robinson as undrafted free agents.
Fantasy football analysis
The best value in this whole situation is Chris Thompson. His PPR value has always been solid, and he is often undervalued. Former Washington head coach Jay Gruden is the Jaguars offensive coordinator, so look for him to get Thompson actively involved in the passing game. His ADP is in the 21st round in PPR leagues, which means he is mostly going undrafted. That should change, and even if it doesn’t, he’s a good option to have on your bench if you can grab him late.
Ryquell Armstead seems the best bet to get early down work, but given that this is not a good offense, it’s hard to see him holding much value. He’s worth a late pick at best, but he’s much more a flyer than sure thing.
We’ll see if anybody places a waiver claim on Leonard Fournette. If he does land somewhere, don’t expect him to immediately become a starter. He could end up in a rotation, with injury being his path to a starting job. We’ll hold off on suggesting draft position until we see where he lands.