The dynasty fantasy football world has marveled over Leonard Fournette ever since he committed to LSU. Since his days at Saint Augustine High School, Fournette has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson, this generation’s top running back. During his Senior year in high school, the hype was further pushed as Fournette finished ranked number one on ESPN’s annual top 300 college recruits. His college career, unfortunately, has been hindered a bit by injuries and playing for an LSU team, that has struggled to throw the ball. This forced Fournette to consistently face defenses keyed in on stopping him. And now, after his Junior year, Fournette has declared for the NFL Draft. He has consistently been mocked as a first rounder and even a top five or ten pick, but is he worth the 1st pick in a rookie draft? That’s what you want to know. So, let’s forget all the hype, the accolades, the comparisons, and let’s break down how good the former Tiger really is, and where you should draft him in rookie drafts.
Strengths: Fournette has two, game-changing, superstar making qualities. Most prospects are fortunate, to have one. Let’s start with Fournette’s top of the class power, seriously, he’s got Adrian Peterson level power. The man cannot be stopped in the open field, he blows through tacklers, and it often takes a village to bring him down. On the fantasy side, Fournette should have multiple double-digit touchdown seasons throughout his career, that alone should have fantasy owners excited. And we haven’t even touched on his speed yet. The former Tiger has tremendous speed once he hits a crease, as hard as it is to bring him down early, you better, because once he gets to the edge, he’s gone. To go along with elite speed, Fournette has early yardage athleticism (acceleration and agility) that only makes him better. It’s safe to say he checks every box in the athleticism category. Every great running back exhibits keen vision, and Fournett’s is downright beautiful as he patiently sets up the run and executes. Much like Adrian Peterson, Fournette’s vision might be what really makes him special. And then we get to his third-down skills (receiving and blocking), are they otherworldly? No. But they certainly are proficient. As a blocker, Fournette’s frame and strength should help him, but his technique needs some forming. As a receiver, like I said Fournette is definitely suitable, but you can tell he is most comfortable in the backfield, taking the ball right from the QB’s hand. At the end of the day, I expect Fournette to develop into a complete, every down back, something he does have on Peterson.
Weaknesses: Well, I’m sorry (not sorry), but I’m not going to try and invent some weaknesses of Fournette just to fill article space. Bottom line is, he doesn’t really have any. He is truly a complete prospect and is ready to take on the NFL. Could he be a better receiver, maybe a better blocker, perhaps more agility? Yes, but calling those weaknesses would be a stretch.
Summary: So is Fournette worth taking with the 1st pick in rookie drafts? Yes, and taking anyone else is overthinking it. Fournette is that good. His level of talent should have him ready to make an impact from day one, and his pro-ready frame should help him to have a lengthy career.
Near Best Case Scenario Pro Comparison: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings