Leonard Fournette hopes to play vs. Patriots, but can fantasy owners trust him?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette is a game-time decision for the Jaguars, although he thinks he’ll be able to suit up but can fantasy football owners trust him?

There’s no doubt that the Jacksonville Jaguars are placing a great deal of importance on their Week 2 clash against the New England Patriots because they have revenge on their minds after barely losing to the Pats in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Linebacker Myles Jack, for example, called it the most important game of his life.

However, the Jaguars may have to go into this all-important game against New England without star running back Leonard Fournette.

Last week, the former No. 4 overall pick suffered a hamstring injury during the second quarter of the Jaguars 20-15 win over the New York Giants. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was initially “pretty optimistic” about Fournette playing, but now that he’s been unable to practice at all this week, the RB is a full-blown, game-time decision.

It is worth noting Fournette told reporters, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, he likes his “chances more and more as the day has gone on.”

Traditionally, players who don’t practice on Friday, especially if they haven’t practiced at all in a given week after suffering an injury, don’t play on Sunday. There are exceptions, however, in the case of veterans or players who are absolutely critical to a team’s success on the field, such as Fournette.

The Jaguars could have a difficult time defeating a team as dominant as the Patriots without Fournette breaking off big gains, chewing up yardage, and making life miserable for the Patriots defense. While T.J. Yeldon is a competent runner, the drop-off between Fournette and Yeldon would be enough to give Bill Belichick and the Patriots a big game planning advantage on a Blake Bortles-led Jaguars offense.

In Week 1 against the Giants, the Jaguars won in spite of a poor performance from Bortles, who completed just 18 of 33 passes for 176 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per pass attempt. Yeldon averaged 3.6 yards per carry. For comparison’s sake, Fournette averaged 4.6 yards per attempt on nine carries before exiting the game with that hamstring injury.

Fantasy owners of Fournette are in an incredibly delicate position, and it goes beyond the fact that Fournette is a true game-time call. The Jaguars vs. Patriots game doesn’t start until 4:25 p.m. ET, so if a fantasy owner decided to plug Fournette into their lineup, they’d have fewer emergency options on Sunday if Fournette were to miss the game.

As crazy as it sounds, if you need a game-breaking performance at running back and don’t have any legitimate options on the bench, you might want to consider gambling on Fournette’s chances of playing.

This is incredibly risky since Fournette never practiced in the build-up to Week 2, but note that Fournette is optimistic about his chances. And if you like conspiracies, maybe the Jaguars are playing a little mind games with Belichick’s Patriots before their Week 2 revenge game. Marrone was once optimistic about Fournette’s chances of playing, so that may be worth keeping in mind.

More to the point, Fournette is the Jaguars centerpiece player on offense. He makes them tick. He grinded out over 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers despite playing through an ankle injury. So Fournette’s done it before.

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It’s best for fantasy owners to play it safe with Fournette, but if you need a boost, I wouldn’t be shocked if the 1,000-yard rusher ends up playing on Sunday. While it would undoubtedly go against precedent, Fournette just might be a special case.

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