Fournette's replacements in Jacksonville offer limited fantasy upside

The Jacksonville Jaguars made a bold move Monday morning by waiving running back Leonard Fournette. While it remains to be seen where Fournette will land, we now know what Jacksonville has to offer at the position. Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson, Devine Ozigbo and James Robinson are Jacksonville’s remaining RB options, but you shouldn’t be actively trying to draft any of these players.

As it currently stands, Armstead, Ozigbo and Thompson all seem likely to be involved in the offense to start the season. Armstead has missed time this training camp while on the reserve/COVID-19 list and has recently been out with a non-COVID-19 related illness. That’s led to Ozigbo getting a bigger workload in training camp and potentially a role in the offense. When you factor in Thompson, who will likely handle the bulk of the receiving work, you get a very crowded and annoying situation for fantasy football managers.

The Jaguars are likely going to be a very poor team in 2020, with OddsShark setting their 2020 win total at 4.5. That projection lends one to believe the team will be playing from behind and throwing the ball quite a bit this upcoming season. With the rushing game duties going from a workhorse in Fournette to a committee with these three players, the appeal to draft from Jacksonville’s backfield declines significantly.

It also doesn’t help that none of the remaining options profile as a potential true workhorse back the way Fournette did.

Ryquell Armstead doesn't project to be a workhorse RB in Jacksonville. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ryquell Armstead doesn't project to be a workhorse RB in Jacksonville. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Even though he’s missed time in training camp, Armstead remains the most likely to handle early-down work and get the majority of the carries. The 2019 fifth-round pick is a speedy, agile back who doesn’t profile to do much in the passing game. While at Temple, Armstead caught just 29 passes over four years of play. His lack of versatility will prevent him from ever being the every-down back on the team.

Thompson remains the favorite to see involvement in the passing game. In each of the past five seasons, the former Washington RB has hauled in 35 or more receptions. Additionally, Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden worked extensively with Thompson while he was the head coach in Washington from 2014-2019. Thompson is a total non-factor on the ground, however, as he has never once recorded more than 70 carries in a season. The 29-year-old also has major durability concerns. Over the past three seasons, Thompson has played in only 31 of 48 games, missing more than a seasons-worth of action.

Ozigbo may be the most complete back of the three, as he demonstrated solid rushing ability in his fourth season at Nebraska. He ran for 1,082 yards on 7.0 yards per carry, while also snagging 23 receptions for 203 yards. The issue with Ozigbo, aside from being a little buried on the depth chart, is that he doesn’t seem to be “the best” at anything among this group. Armstead profiles as a better rusher while Thompson is a better receiver. Ozigbo’s path to seeing the field early will come through absences. Armstead’s lack of availability may give Ozigbo a chance early on to show what he can do.

Behind an offensive line ranked 26th according to Pro Football Focus, it seems highly unlikely that any of these three backs will emerge as a true game-changer or draft target in fantasy football drafts. If I had to draft one, I’d select Armstead, but I’m not going out of my way to make it happen and likely won’t end up with him on any of my teams.

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