The situation with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette hasn’t involved much optimism in terms of his Week 2 status throughout the week. And on Saturday, Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders revealed that the second-year back who’s battling a hamstring injury is unlikely to play.
With Fournette now expected to be sidelined, the attention shifts to backup running back T.J. Yeldon, who finds himself with a safe workload. But while Yeldon is expected to see plenty of touches, the question of whether to start or sit him in fantasy football goes beyond just his workload.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the situation with Yeldon, including his matchup, history and even how he looked in Week 1.
As ESPN’s Jeff Darlington revealed, the Jaguars have ruled out Leonard Fournette for Week 2, leaving Yeldon and Corey Grant to cover the backfield duties.
Yeldon’s Solid Matchup, Week 1 Performance
The Jaguars face a tough matchup with the New England Patriots, who they’ve formed somewhat of a mini-rivalry with. It’s a home game for the Jaguars, which I certainly like quite a bit in big matchups like this. The Patriots allowed 134 yards and one touchdown to running backs in Week 1, pointing to the fact that Yeldon should have success against this defense if the line can open up holes for him.
Yeldon’s Week 1 numbers while replacing Fournette weren’t amazing, but they weren’t terrible either. He finished the day with 14 attempts for 51 yards and caught three passes for 18 yards and one touchdown. His pass-catching abilities could be big if the Jaguars make that a focal point of the offensive gameplan.
T.J. Yeldon’s History vs. Patriots, Games With Heavy Workloads
Unfortunately, we don’t have much history to go off in terms of Yeldon facing the Patriots specifically. He’s played in just one game against New England, totaling 11 carries for 33 yards and catching two passes for nine yards, per StatMuse.
Yeldon has been a bit of a mystery man when it comes to fantasy football value over the years. Last season during an early-season victory over the Indianapolis Colts, he ripped off 122 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries. But when looking back to pre-Fournette days, the 24-year-old didn’t excel. He had four games with double-digit carries in 2016, posting a yards-per-carry average of 3.5 or less in three of them. One of those games was a 21-carry showing against the Green Bay Packers in which he had just 39 yards.
Start or Sit T.J. Yeldon?
This is about as close to a toss-up as you’re going to find, but based on the fact that the Jaguars are a run-heavy team facing a Patriots group capable of putting major points on the board, Yeldon is in play. Specifically, in 12-14 team leagues with a flex spot, I think Yeldon is essentially a lock.
As far as 10-team leagues go, that’s where it gets a bit tougher. If you have other options at running back/flex, I can see the argument for leaving Yeldon on the bench. One thing to consider, though, is that Yeldon probably has the safest number of snaps among any replacement back not named James Conner. According to Football Outsiders, he played 62 percent of the offensive snaps last week, and that was with Fournette playing 33 percent.
Expecting Yeldon to see 80-90 percent of the snaps doesn’t seem unrealistic. That fact alone makes him a solid streaming option.