Chiefs taking chance on Leonard Fournette would make him fantasy stud

Fantasy Football, Kansas City Chiefs

Leonard Fournette had his best season in 2019, but if the Kansas City Chiefs acquire him his fantasy ceiling would go way up.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, for better or worse, are looking to rebuild. So it’s no surprise trade rumors around running back Leonard Fournette have resurfaced, and the Jaguars are reportedly engaging with other teams in the days before this week’s draft.

Fournette stayed healthy last year, playing in 15 games before sitting out Week 17 with an illness. He set a career-high for rushing yards, with 1,152, and he had 76 receptions for 522 yards on a robust 100 targets. Those receiving numbers topped what he did in his first two NFL seasons combined (58 catches for 487 yards on 74 targets).

There should be a decent trade market for Fournette, coming off his best season, with only this year and a fifth-year option as contract commitments to him. He’s also 25 years old, with a chunk of peak years certainly ahead of him.

However, one prominent possible suitor seems to already be out of the mix.

One very interesting landing spot for Fournette is the Kansas City Chiefs. They’d have to do some financial maneuvering to take on his $4.16 million salary for this year, but adding another back to bolster last year’s 23rd-ranked rushing attack might be on the radar. Drafting a running back seems very likely right now.

Damien Williams led the Chiefs in rushing with 498 yards in 2019, and he added 30 receptions for 213 yards. He finished as RB34 in standard scoring fantasy leagues, and RB38 in full-point PPR, while Fournette was RB13 and RB7 respectively.

READ: Leonard Fournette is forcing a trade without forcing it

It’s worth noting Fournette’s numbers last year were volume-driven, with 265 carries and the aforementioned 100 targets yielding the third-most touches in the league (341). Outside of Jacksonville, that volume is unlikely to be repeated.

Fournette was the centerpiece of a poor offense, mostly piloted by a rookie quarterback, in 2019. The Jaguars came in toward the bottom of the league in Football Outsiders DVOA (24th), with a rushing attack that finished 26th in Pro Football Reference’s Expected Points and a pass offense that finished 23rd in PFR’s Expected Points.

By comparison, the Chiefs finished third in Offensive DVOA, first in passing offense Expected Points (by a good margin) and sixth in rushing offense Expected Points.

Fournette had just three rushing touchdowns last year, with two in one game (Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans). But it was not for a lack of volume.

In each of his first two NFL seasons, Fournette converted more than 22 percent of his red zone carries into touchdowns. So he’s due for a significant correction in that area this year. A case in point is Williams’ fairly dismal red zone conversion rate last year (18.7 percent), which was almost three times Fournette’s.

With the quality of mouths to feed in the Chiefs’ offense, Fournette would surely not get to 100 pass targets if he played there this year. But he would be the lead back in Kansas City (225-250 carries?), with far better all-around efficiency in a far superior offense. A finish as the overall fantasy RB1 would not be out of the question, and a top-5-to-10 finish in all scoring formats would be the floor as long as he stayed healthy.

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