There were a lot of questions facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield, but we may have been given some clarity with the addition of Leonard Fournette. Or did we? Let’s take a look at the current mix and try to determine who has value and who should be ignored:
It feels like somewhat of a bargain, with Fournette signing a $2 million contract (with the potential for additional incentives). He’s never played all 16 games in a season, but he’s coming off a year where he showed the ability to make plays both with his legs and through the air:
- Rushing – 265 carries for 1,152 yards and 3 TD
- Receiving – 76 receptions for 522 yards
It’s the pass catching ability that is key, especially with Tom Brady under center. Let’s not overlook that James White caught 72 passes in ’19 from Brady, while Rex Burkhead (27), Sonny Michel (12) and Brandon Bolden (9) also in the mix.
Fournette, the fourth overall selection in 2017, has the potential to emerge as the leader of the backfield. Even in a timeshare, his pass catching ability makes him the name to target. He’s more of a RB2, and that should make him a ideal target in Round 3.
Jones averaged 4.2 YPC last season, as he shared time with Peyton Barber:
- Jones – 724 yards and 6 TD on 172 carries
- Barber – 470 yards and 6 TD on 154 carries
Jones was hardly impressive, and he also wasn’t an impact player in the passing game (31 catches for 309 yards). He’s a solid complimentary back, but can we perceive him as anything more than that? As Walter Football noted prior to being drafted:
Jones would be best as a pro paired with a bigger back. Jones could also use more weight for the NFL as he has a thinner build and may have a hard time holding up under a big work load. He also runs a little upright, and that could cause him to take some hard hits. Having a physical workhorse to pair with Jones would make a lot of sense for his NFL team.
He’s more of a FLEX option, and even that could be a stretch with Fournette potentially taking the lead. Figure him as an option around Round 8.
Do we think the veteran is going to be on the roster for Week 1? It seems highly unlikely, as there simply doesn’t appear to be room in the backfield. With Fournette and Jones ticketed for a timeshare and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn ready to take on a role, where does he fit?
Prior to the addition of Fournette Vaughn was viewed as a potential sleeper, even though McCoy’s presence silenced that somewhat. Now that Fournette is in place? Vaughn may be more of a third down option who is fighting for touches, as opposed to someone who could emerge. CBS Sports may have described him best as they said:
As a prospect, Vaughn could be described as a jack of all trades but master of none. He can run between the tackles, he can work in the passing game, he can pick up in protection. He’s fast enough, but not a burner.
In dynasty formats he’s still worth stashing and it’s possible he makes an impact in ’20, but he’s nothing more than a late round flier. In a year that didn’t provide the same exposure to the playbook for rookies to get up to speed, it makes sense for a team looking to win the Super Bowl to lead to a veteran presence.
Sources – NFL.com, CBS Sports, Walter Football