The Jacksonville Jaguars took a step to shoring up the interior of their offensive line with the addition of free agent guard Andrew Norwell, formerly of the Carolina Panthers. Offensive linemen typically don’t draw much attention from the fantasy football community, but their importance in fantasy production shouldn’t be understated.
Left guard was a troublesome spot for Jacksonville in 2017 with Patrick Omameh, Chris Reed, and Tyler Shatley all struggling at the position during the season. On the other hand, Norwell excelled. He didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit during the regular season, and was part of an offensive line that led the league in yards before contact per attempt. For his efforts, Norwell finished as the No. 3 guard in our grading system, which was 33 spots higher than the top-graded Jags’ guard.
Norwell’s presence will help the Jags in keeping Blake Bortles clean, as he graded out as the top guard in pass blocking last season. More importantly for fantasy purposes, Norwell will help create more running lanes along the interior for Leonard Fournette.
Fournette topped 1,000 yards in his rookie season, but only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. While his 2.5 yards after contact per attempt wasn’t an elite number, Fournette was at least able to create yards independent of his blocking. However, his line only managed 1.4 yards before contact on his attempts. That’s below the league average of 1.47.
While Norwell’s presence doesn’t figure to drastically improve that number, Fournette will likely have more room to operate and his yards per carry should see an uptick. This signing isn’t going to move Fournette’s ADP from the late first round, but it certainly increases the fantasy confidence of selecting Fournette in this range.