Fantasy Alert: Ronald Jones Main Bucs RB; LeSean McCoy Will Find 'Niche'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters Wednesday running back Ronald Jones II will be the "main guy" in the Bucs' backfield during the 2020 NFL season. 

Arians explained other members of the rotation, including recent free-agent signing LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn, will fight for playing time during training camp. He expects McCoy will "find his niche easily," though.

The crowded backfield could make it difficult for any of the three backs to post monster fantasy numbers as part of the revamped Tampa offense led by quarterback Tom Brady.

Jones was the Bucs' most effective rusher in 2019 while splitting time with Peyton Barber, who left in free agency to sign with the Washington Football Team.

The 23-year-old USC product rushed for 724 yards on 172 carries (4.2 YPC) with six touchdowns in 16 appearances. He added 31 receptions for 309 yards in his second NFL season.

In July, he told Greg Auman of The Athletic the additions of Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have him amped up for the upcoming campaign.

"I'm very excited," Jones said. "We've been anxious, seeing all the offseason moves, getting the Brady bunch with Gronk back as well, with the weapons we had in place already. We're feeling really good about this season and know it can be something special."

Being the "main guy" should equate to between 15 and 20 touches per game, which will make him a locked-in weekly starter in all fantasy formats except when facing the league's truly top-end defenses. The competition for playing time makes him a risk inside a draft's first two rounds, though.

Meanwhile, Vaughn presents the most fantasy upside among the Buccaneers' reserve options.

He's coming off back-to-back strong seasons at Vanderbilt. He recorded 2,712 yards from scrimmage with 24 touchdowns across 24 appearances between 2018 and 2019.

His fantasy stock has dropped since the signing of McCoy, however. It'll likely now take an injury to guarantee him more than 10 touches per game, and thus he shouldn't be drafted as anything more than a flex option to open his debut season.

McCoy, who struggled in his last season as a high-volume player with the Buffalo Bills in 2018 (3.2 YPC), bounced back in a more limited role with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs last year (4.6). He's still a versatile asset but his days of getting 20-plus carries are likely a thing of the past.

He's nothing more than a middle-round bench flier in fantasy drafts at this stage.