Is Leonard Fournette About To Hit His Ceiling?

June 4th, 2022

Playoff Lenny.

Though the excerpt below was originally written for fantasy football, it translates to real football as well.

Joe remembers an NFL source telling him roughly 7-8 years ago that the closer a running back gets to 30, the fewer sands he has left in the hourglass of his career. The legs begin to go and when a running back loses his wheels, he’s done. The same source pretty much told Joe that 30 is the cursed number. Once running backs hit 30, the gas tank is running on empty.

(Yes, Joe knows there are outliers. But feel free to do your own research to show the fraction of running backs in the NFL that are successful over 30.)

So in doing research for fantasy football, Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis found 27-year-old Playoff Lenny may already have peaked or is a step away from peaking.

The past eight running backs to lead the position in seasonal scoring have all been 25 years old or younger. In 2021, we only had just four running backs among the top-24 in points per game at age 27 or older.

We have always considered age at the running back position, so this isn’t new. But what is interesting in context of this season is that we have a number of fantasy stars approaching this area of their career.

Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, and James Conner all will be 27 years old or older when the season kicks off.

Joe knows NFL people don’t give two s(p)its about fantasy football. But trust Joe, they have reams of research on stuff like this.

Though Joe doubts Bucs coach Todd Bowles or AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht will ever admit this, Joe is willing to bet one reason the Bucs drafted Rachaad White was in the hope that he, along with Ke’Shawn Vaughn, can save Playoff Lenny some snaps, and therefore save whatever gas is left in the tank.

18 Responses to “Is Leonard Fournette About To Hit His Ceiling?”

  1. Hodad Says:

    Five years for a RB might as well be in dog years. Bucs are hoping they get two more good years out of Lenny, drafting White will certainly help extend his shelf life. I always look to draft rookie backs for my fantasy teams. They produce best when they are young. I would draft a rookie Zeke Elliott, but 27 year old Zeke this year? You can have him.

  2. PSL Bob Says:

    You hit the key in that last paragraph. “save Playoff Lenny some snaps..” Didn’t his snap count drop quite a bit during his last year or two in Jax? If so, Lenny may have another year or two before he maxes out.

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Would much rather put my faith in Fournette this season than in any of our other RBs. Lenny had the most productive year of his 5-year career last season, using yards/touch as the criteria.

    o Rushing: 4.5 YPC (highest of his career) … 180 carries, 812 rushing yds, 8 TDs, 45 first downs.
    o Receiving: 6.6 YPR … 69 catches in 84 targets (82.1%), 454 receiving yds, 2 TDs, 30 first downs.

    Lenny’s average yards/touch was 5.1, best of his career. And oh BTW, he’s only fumbled ONCE in his 2 yrs with us (4 total in his career in almost 1200 touches). Ball security counts, as do his pass protection skills. He’s the least of our concerns.

  4. Buczilla Says:

    Running back is the red headed stepchild of the nfl. Kids talented enough to play another position should never even consider playing running back. It’s a shame too since it wasn’t always this way. Best sport around by far, but imho a shadow of it’s former self with all of the rule changes, constant stoppages, endless advertisements even during the game, and all of the other nonesense that has no business being in sports. All that said and my dumba$$ is still frothing at the mouth for even a pre-season game.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The only problem for Lenny getting snap relief from Rachaad White is Rachaad wants his job……will he get it? That’s the third big question for the Bucs.

    #1. WIll Gronk come back?
    #2 Will Brady play in 23?

  6. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Lenny is hitting his prime. The point where strength, maturity and wisdom come together while your quick twitch muscles and reflexes are still optimal.

  7. Bojim Says:

    This would be a good year to peak no?

  8. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Can we get through this season first before we start discussing everyone’s end?

  9. Nutterbuccer Says:

    Lenny doesn’t have a ton of miles under his belt unlike some of those other names listed. So he has that going for him. I do t see him getting a ton going forward either. The 3 year contract was perfect for him.

  10. Beeej Says:

    Lenny hasn’t been getting the huge carries he got in JAX–he had 180 last year, 97 the year prior. (Compared with 265 his final year in JAX) It’s not like we’re wearing him out

  11. Joe Says:

    This would be a good year to peak no?


  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    There are stats and there are stats. Agree about the age “INDICATOR”. But an even more important “INDICATOR” or factor IMHO is the actual wear and tear.

    Lets see how much actual use Playoff Lenny’s wheels have undergone the past two years, compared to say the horse of the league Derrick Henry and perhaps the best all around RB in the Bucs Division Kamara.

    Remember Playoff Lennie wasn’t our starting RB in the beginning. He didn’t even get in 100 freaking carries his first season. He’s had just 270 carries in the past two years combined.

    That’s not even a season for the Horse. Henry rushed the ball an amazing 378 times two year ago, even with injuries last year he’s rushed for right at 600 times over just the past two years.

    Think about it!!! The way Henry runs…he is truly the MAN to absorb that much punishment!!!!

    Kamara is a better comparison. He’s rushed it 427 times the past two years which is nearing twice as many as P.L.

    Yes the Bucs will use a deep backfield to save Lennie’s legs but due to luck he should have the freshest legs of any of the major RB’s you’ve listed.

  13. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    If we get one more really good year out of him I’ll be happy.

  14. teacherman777 Says:

    I still believe that if we had run the ball more against the Rams, we would have won.

    We must play more smash mouth football this year.

    Pound the rock!

  15. David Says:

    He should have plenty left. He hasn’t been a workhorse. The rookie is probably going to get some of his carries anyway.

  16. Capt.Tim Says:

    . . . Just one more year please . . .

  17. TampabayDJ82 Says:

    I PRAY Lenny peaks this season ! That would mean he has his best season yet. And this is the year we need him to have his best season , as well as the rest of the team . But you also have to consider the fact that up until last year , he was splitting rep’s with Jones and not the workhorse that he should be. I think Lenny is one of the last players we have to worry about. How about getting the strength and conditioning coach to “Have a peak year” and keep our players healthy and not pulling hammies every other week ? Go Bucs and go @joebucsfan

  18. Brandon Says:

    My biggest criticism of Fournette is probably his saving grace. Lenny stops his legs at contact. He is usually tackled after first contact. He leaves his feet and falls forward. Not great for extending drives or getting extra yards but it is great for extending his career by not absorbing extra punishment. Lenny is a big guy and runs hard, but more often than not, the first tackler is the one that brings him down, that means far fewer collisions per carry than guys known for breaking tackles and being hard to tackle. Considering Fournette is far from nifty or fast, I figure he will at least be pretty much the same guy he is now by the time his contract comes to an end in three years.