Burdened with the expectations of being a top-5 draft pick at running back, Leonard Fournette needs to be one of the best at his position.
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a clear statement when they selected former LSU star running back Leonard Fournette with the 4th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft – they wanted to become a power running team and be competitive right away.
It’s actually not a preposterous strategy, but it relies heavily on Fournette stepping in and becoming one of the league’s top running backs right away.
Not everyone thinks that is going to happen.
Josh Nagel over at Sportsline looked at the Vegas over/under line for Leonard Fournette’s touchdowns and yards in 2017. His analysis was grim:
"Leonard Fournette total rushing yards during 2017-18 NFL regular seasonOver 900.5 (-115, risk $115 to win $100)Under 900.5 (-115, risk $115 to win $100)Leonard Fournette total rushing touchdowns during 2017-18 NFL regular seasonOver 6.5 (-115, risk $115 to win $100)Under 6.5 (-115, risk $115 to win $100)Pick: I’m going to support the Under on both for a variety of reasons. First, Fournette might lack the speed to become an elite NFL runner, and his recent injury history already is a concern.Moreover, his performances against top-level college competition are worth considering.In three games against Alabama, which annually boasts a wealth of NFL talent, he gained just 145 yards on 57 carries. More than half of those yards (79) came in his freshman year.The Jaguars also figure to be trailing in the second half of many games and could abandon the rushing attack, giving Fournette fewer opportunities. I am much more confident in the Under for the yardage prop, but will recommend it for both wagers.It could mean a colossal bust for the Jaguars for their No. 4 overall pick."
Nagel is probably overly pessimistic here, but it’s not a bad strategy to just skew negative on anything related to the Jaguars given their overall ineptness in recent seasons.
I’m of the mindset that Fournette is just too good and too explosive to not produce 900+ yards. The only way that happens is if he gets injured because the Jaguars are going to feed him the ball constantly.
Nagel also lost me a bit when he said Fournette might lack the speed to become an elite NFL runner. That’s lunacy. Fournette’s otherworldy combination of size-power-speed is the main reason he was drafted so high.
I’m going over on both. Otherwise the Jaguars are in trouble.