Fantasy Football Fallout: Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones

Leonard Fournette has found his new home with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is rare for a running back as fantasy football relevant as Fournette to get cut so close to when the season starts. Many have already drafted, and were worried about Fournette signing with the right team after being released from the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, they can breathe a sigh of relief, as he should remain a starter for their teams. However, the news is not so good for Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

Fantasy Football: How the Leonard Fournette Signing Affects Ronald Jones, Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Plan For Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn

It has been no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not got what they hoped in Jones since they took him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. During his rookie year, he couldn’t even get on the field, managing just 23 carries for 44 yards.

As a sophomore, he was much improved, but still not necessarily lead back material. Jones had trouble beating out the incumbent Peyton Barber, who was a highly inefficient back. Jones managed to total 1,000 yards from scrimmage, but his 724 rushing yards and 309 receiving yards are far from impressive.

During most games in 2019, the Bucs seemed to just abandon the run game altogether and let Jameis Winston chuck the ball downfield to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. This strategy yielded mixed results, as Winston not only threw for over 30 touchdowns, but also for 30 interceptions.

Obviously not sold on Jones, Tampa Bay drafted Vaughn in the third round of the 2020 draft. Considering Jones’ performance with the team to that point, many expected Vaughn to immediately take over. Surprisingly, there has not been much buzz around Vaughn this offseason, which is usually when coach-speak and superlatives are at their height.

But there was for Jones. Head coach Bruce Arians hyped him up a lot this offseason, praising Jones for improving as a receiver and pass protector. All signs pointed to him starting the season as the primary back with new quarterback Tom Brady. That was until Fournette entered the picture.

A New Starter in Town

Fournette really found the ideal team for him to sign with after not being claimed on waivers. Rumors had teams like the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, and New England Patriots tied to him. While the Patriots were an intriguing option, considering there is no clear-cut starter there yet, the others weren’t as appetizing. Fournette would at best get a 50/50 share with the Bears’ David Montgomery, and less than that in Kansas City with Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The Buccaneers don’t necessarily guarantee him volume, but they are a good shot for it. Arians has a history of loving his veteran backs over the younger rushers. Remember that he signed Chris Johnson out of retirement and traded for Adrian Peterson during his time with the Arizona Cardinals. He also traditionally uses one back. Fournette is far from the most efficient back, but he at least proved last season that he can run and catch the ball.

Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn Outlook

Fantasy team managers that already drafted Fournette can let out that breathe they’ve been holding since he was released a few days ago. However, they should not get too impatient with him. There is just over one week before the season starts. So Fournette should not be expected to come in and immediately take over the backfield. But by midseason, he should be getting enough volume to make him an every-week starter.

Those that have not drafted should still keep an eye on Fournette’s ADP. He should not be drafted as high as he was with the Jaguars, where his volume was guaranteed, but should be a great pick late in the fourth round of any scoring system.

For Jones, he will quickly become obsolete for fantasy purposes. For those that already drafted him, the best thing to do is hold on to him, and hope he keeps at least some role early in the season. Then trade him for whatever possible. Vaughn is now undraftable and droppable. In dynasty, however, keep him on the taxi squad.

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