Fri May 24 3:46pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie, center, talks with running backs Ryquell Armstead (30) and Leonard Fournette (27) during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) carries the ball during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Fournette slipped off his sweaty cleats, signed each one and then handed them to a young fan after practice.
The youngster carefully walked away with Fournette's gold-colored shoes, making sure not to touch the drying ink. After all, the memorabilia could appreciate in value if the Jacksonville Jaguars running back gets his NFL career turned around.
Fournette spoke publicly for the first time in nearly six months Friday, finally addressing the worst season in his 24 years and everything that's happened since. He was injured, suspended and on the bench in crunch time. He was fined, criticized and admittedly not in ideal shape late in the year.
The Jaguars voided the remaining guarantees in his rookie contract following his one-game suspension for fighting, and personnel chief Tom Coughlin ripped him for being ''disrespectful'' and ''selfish'' during the season finale. Adding to the chaos, Fournette was arrested last month for driving with a suspended license.
''It's a new year,'' Fournette said following practice. ''We have a new team. We're focused and we have new players. It's a new year for us, so it's a new everything. It's a clean start for a lot of us guys. We're not focused on the past. The past's the past.
''Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah I was wrong. We moved on. We're in a good place right now.''
The Jaguars were in a tough spot without Fournette last season, unable to run the ball with any consistency after building the offense around the former LSU star and fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
He finished with 439 yards rushing and five touchdowns in eight games after running for 1,040 yards and nine scores as a rookie. He's missed 11 games in two seasons, including two because of suspensions.
''Everybody has a bad year, so I don't feel like I've got to prove myself to no one,'' Fournette said.
The team probably feels otherwise.
Jacksonville completely revamped its running backs room around Fournette, firing position coach Tyrone Wheatley and parting ways with backups T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde and Corey Grant.
Coach Doug Marrone hired 64-year-old Terry Robiskie, who, like Fournette, was born and raised in New Orleans and attended LSU, as running backs coach. They also added veteran Alfred Blue (another LSU alum) to be Fournette's backup.
And even though they signed quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to upgrade one of the NFL's most anemic offenses, Fournette is still expected to be the centerpiece under new coordinator John DeFilippo.
''He's going to be a major reason for where our offense goes,'' DeFilippo said. ''I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that's not only going to be good for our offense, but good for our team.''
Fournette said he weighs 226 pounds, down 14 pounds from the end of last season.
He spent part of this offseason training in Dallas and then went to Wyoming to work with his college strength and conditioning coach in hopes of getting back to his ''foundation.''
''I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right,'' Fournette said. ''Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it's at. I think that's one of the biggest things that us players. ... We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean?
''We have a lot of issues, and if we're not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we're not going to be right in the game.''
Getting Fournette back on track is one of Jacksonville's top priorities. Coaches believe he's got the talent to be one of the best backs in the league - a guy whose worn cleats would be a collector's item - but they have to keep him healthy, in shape, motivated and focused.
''Those young guys at that age, I always think they need a little more push, a little bit more guidance, a little bit more leadership,'' Robiskie said. ''Leonard is one of those guys. He's got the ambition. He's got the heart.
''I think he wants to win. I don't think he wants to win a game. I think he wants to be a part of something special. I think he wants to win a Super Bowl, and I think the year before last, that little taste that he had, I think that kind of helped push it a little bit more.''
Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been reduced to nearly equal snap count share with colleague Royce Freeman. That being said, it truly is a toss-up between which running back will see more production in Week 3 as they will likely receive the same volume once again. The Broncos face off with the Green Bay Packers, who have not had an overly intimidating run defense to start the year in 2019. If you absolutely need to play Lindsay in a deep league flex role, especially in PPR setting, he most likely will suffice with decent production, but don't expect anything crazy.
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has seen significant time in the start of the 2019 season compared to where he ended last year. Freeman and teammate Phillip Lindsay have been sharing time out of the backfield and neither of them has been able to have a standout game yet this year. Therefore, it can be expected they will share duties once again in Week 3. If you need a player to throw in due to injuries in a deep league, Freeman poses an option with the potential of a breakout game or a few touchdowns looks to get some points on the board.
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant has shown signs of promise to start the year, but he still needs to prove himself before he can be trusted to put up consistent numbers week-to-week. That being said, we have yet to see signs that Fant can have a breakout game and he should stay on waivers and benches in most leagues for Week 3.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton has been a disappointment to start the 2019 season. He has struggled the last two weeks, and there is no reason that owners should give him the benefit of the doubt to flip the script against a stout Green Bay Packers Defense. If Hamilton is still on your bench in hopes he can figure things out, keep him there this week and out of your starting lineup.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton has put up a solid start to his 2019 campaign, most likely to the satisfaction of many owners. However, his Week 3 matchup makes him a tough play, as the Green Bay Packers Defense has locked down most receivers outside of their opposing team's number one target. With Emmanuel Sanders most likely getting the highest target share in Week 3 for the Broncos, Courtland Sutton and company are likely to struggle, much like Anthony Miller and Stefon Diggs have when their teams faced the Packers in previous weeks. If able to avoid putting Sutton in your lineup this week, it is probably a safe choice.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looks to follow-up a strong Week 2 performance as the team heads to Green Bay for a matchup with the Packers. While the Packers Defense has been a strong collective unit in 2019, they don't necessarily have a lockdown corner that Sanders will be matching up with all game. With that being said, it may be hard to see Sanders having a league-leading game, but he should have no problem getting solid receptions and yardage, making him a solid flex play in most 10 and 12 team leagues.
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco has kicked off his campaign in the mile-high city with a slow start, currently producing low-end QB2 numbers. The narrative will stay the same for Week 3, as he lines up against a strong Green Bay Packers Defense who have held the likes of Mitch Trubisky and Kirk Cousins in check the previous two weeks. Avoid Flacco this week in all leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught five of his nine targets in Week 3, finishing with 46 yards while also adding four rushing yards. This was Westbrook's highest yardage total of the year, and while he found the end zone in Week 1, it's still been a tough start to the season for the promising wideout. His value in standard scoring leagues is virtually nonexistent right now, though his target share does give him upside still in PPR. It's not quite time to panic and drop Westbrook, but fantasy owners should be concerned by his usage.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been solid throughout the first two weeks of the season, but he hasn't done anything spectacular. In Week 3, he'll likely continue to be quarterback Jacoby Brissett's favorite target, but he still has a limited ceiling. It only takes one play for him to have a big week. As a result, he's a must-start. After a very grim outlook following the retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, Hilton has proved that it doesn't matter what QB is throwing him the ball.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark found the end zone for the third week in a row, hauling in four catches for 76 yards in Thursday's win over Tennessee. Chark is becoming the favored end zone target for rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and that mixed with his speed has made him a valuable fantasy option who is able to produce even with a fairly low target total. If he's still on waivers in your league, it's time to add the second-year wideout.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines has been held mostly in check for the first couple weeks of the season. In Week 3, he has more upside than we've seen thus far. Starting running back Marlon Mack has been battling an injury all week, and the Colts will likely have to put up points to keep up with the Atlanta Falcons. If Mack is unable to go or is limited in any way, Hines earns strong flex consideration as a result. In PPR formats, he's a strong possibility.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw a pair of first quarter touchdowns in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans. He ended up with 204 passing yards on 20-for-30 passing and also added 18 rushing yards on four carries. It was a solid game for Minshew, though one of those touchdowns was made easy by the Jaguars starting a drive at the Titans' seven-yard line. Minshew is making crisp throws and avoiding mistakes so far in his Jaguars tenure and looks like a solid QB2 at this point.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette had 11 carries for negative-eight yards at one point in Thursday's win over the Tennessee Titans, but a 69-yard run late helped him finish with the game with 15 carries and 66 yards. He also added six receptions for 26 yards. Fournette was having a nightmarish game before that long run, and fantasy owners should feel discouraged despite the final stat line. Fournette and the Jaguars' offensive line just couldn't create room for him to run.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack is his team's lead back. He's far and away the best player at his position on his team. In Week 2, he was stifled by the Tennessee Titans. In Week 3, he has a matchup that is advantageous for him to have a good outcome. The Atlanta Falcons got ran over by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, and the Colts have an even better offensive line. With the speed to hit a big play at any time, Mack belongs in lineups this week with a good amount of confidence.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been quietly steady through the first two weeks. In the team's Week 3 matchup, he has another positive matchup. The Atlanta Falcons Defense has a lot of speed, but they haven't been shutting opponents out through the air. Unless Brissett gets an amazing matchup, he'll consistently be a QB2, but he has a lot of upside this week. This game has some shootout potential, and Brissett could benefit as a result.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol, but head coach Jason Garrett said he is improving. Austin doesn't have a very good chance of being cleared for Sunday against the Dolphins at this rate. He's not much of a fantasy consideration as mainly a kick returner and gadget player on offense, although the Cowboys could use him a little more when he returns with Michael Gallup out two to four weeks.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Smith injured his ankle late in the Week 2 loss and appears primed to miss Week 3 on the road against the Seahawks. With Drew Brees (thumb) out at least the next six weeks, Smith doesn't have much redraft value at the moment despite the injury. If he sits out, rookie Deonte Harris and Austin Carr will battle for work behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. All Saints pass-catchers need to be downgraded with Brees on the shelf.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) has missed practice the last two days with a bruised knee and was limping considerably on Thursday. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy (ankle) was limited on Thursday, so it's looking like Williams will sit out in Week 3 against the Ravens. If McCoy is active, he'll have RB2 upside in what will likely be a fast-paced and high-scoring game. Rookie Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams could step in behind McCoy for some touches. Thompson would have some flex appeal in deeper PPR leagues. If you own Damien Williams, you should prepare as if he won't play this Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley (groin) was a full participant in practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. After missing the first two games of the season, it looks like Badgley has a good chance to make his season debut in Week 3 against the Texans. He's trending upwards as a fantasy booter, but we'd recommend a wait-and-see approach until he proves his health. The Bolts are hoping he's back full time, as they can't afford anymore special teams miscues that cost them wins. When Badgley is healthy, he can be a decent streaming option in good matchups.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (knee) and tight end Vance McDonald (back) were both full participants in practice on Thursday. Conner missed practice entirely on Wednesday, so it appears that he will play in Week 3 against the 49ers. Still, Conner could share more work with backup Jaylen Samuels with Mason Rudolph now at quarterback, making him more of a low-end RB2 against an improved 49ers Defense. McDonald had two touchdowns when Rudolph spelled Big Ben last week and could be a safety blanket for the second-year signal-caller. Consider McDonald a low-end TE1 on the rise.