Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones' Fantasy Outlook After New Bucs RB's Contract

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 3, 2020

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette didn't have to leave Florida to find a new NFL home as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to sign the recently released three-year veteran Wednesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Fournette joins a potentially explosive Bucs offense that returns wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and added six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady and four-time All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. Tampa Bay also added offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs, who will start at right tackle.

Fournette will also team with Ronald Jones II, among others, in the Bucs backfield.

From a fantasy football perspective, Fournette's outlook is not as rosy as it was in Jacksonville, where the offense largely revolved around him. He had 341 of the team's 753 touches last year, meaning that he touched the ball 45.3 percent of the time.

Fournette did that despite missing a game. No other Jaguar had more than 75 touches.

He gained 1,674 yards from scrimmage last season and caught 76 passes as well, making him the seventh-highest-scoring back in points-per-reception leagues, per FantasyPros.

But that work was largely the result of increased volume rather than efficiency. For his career, Fournette has rushed for just 4.0 yards per carry, although he did have a career-high 4.3 YPC mark in 2019.

In Tampa, Fournette joins a backfield where he is very unlikely to get north of 300 touches because of the presence of Jones, the former USC star who had 1,033 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns last season.

The Bucs also drafted Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the third round and still have Dare Ogunbowale, who caught 35 passes for 286 yards last season. Tampa Bay also has LeSean McCoy on the roster, although it's unclear where he might stand on the depth chart with the Bucs making the signing.

Adam Levitan of Establish The Run projected how the Bucs' running back depth chart may look following the Fournette signing:

Adam Levitan @adamlevitan

Lot to sift through, but rough stab at how Bucs RBs eventually play out: * Uncle Lenny 1A * Ronald Jones 1B * Dare/Lenny on pass downs * Ke'Shawn Vaughn healthy scratch on gamedays * LeSean McCoy cut

A "1A" role in the Bucs backfield does not make for a potential starting running back on fantasy teams. The Bucs offense should revolve around its passing game with Brady, Godwin and Evans doing much of the work alongside Gronkowski and tight end O.J. Howard.

Simply put, there are too many mouths to feed on the Bucs offense, and Fournette isn't going to get nearly the amount of touches he did in Jacksonville.

The Fournette signing also makes Jones nearly undraftable at this juncture, as his ceiling now contains a hard cap with his new teammate in the fold. Accruing more than 200 touches this year seems unlikely barring an injury to Fournette, and Jones isn't going to gobble up points for PPR leagues through the pass game.

In sum, Fournette is a high-end RB3 and bench option but likely not worth placing in one of your two starting slots. Jones should be off draft boards.


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