LEONARD FOURNETTE - RB TAMPA BAY BUCS
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
With the news of Leonard Fournette signing a 1-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a lot of questions have been asked about what exactly his role will be. Will he be the clear-cut starter, a backup, or maybe even irrelevant in this offense with an already overcrowded backfield? Before I get into what I believe his role will be, let me give you some context to Fournette’s career.
Drafted as the 4th overall pick in 2017, ahead of Christian McCaffrey, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, the expectations for Fournette were sky high. Now whether you believe that taking running back in the 1st round, let alone a top-5 pick, is worth it in the NFL is a different discussion. However, since entering the league Fournette is running back 11 in total fantasy points and 16 in points per season. While the numbers aren’t eye popping, he has proven that when healthy he has the talent to produce top-10 fantasy running back numbers. Although he has missed 12 total games over his 3 years, he has stayed relatively healthy for a running back (he missed 8 total games in 2018). He is a reliable ball carrier fumbling 3 times, while only losing 1 fumble in 666 career carries. However, even when on the field, he is not an efficient running back, averaging 4.0 yards per carry for his career and is coming off a year in which he only scored 3 times. The production was a concern for Jacksonville to go along with what they felt was not a worthy recipient of his $4.4 million contract. All of this has led to him being released, clearing waivers and then signing with the Bucs. Now for the fun part, figuring out what his role will be and how this will affect his fantasy value.
In my opinion, I believe that Leonard Fournette will have value as a top 30 running back but will not be a reliable starter week to week. Despite Bruce Arians coming out Thursday morning and saying that “[Ronald Jones] it’s his job, nothing’s changed for him”, I still think that Fournette will end up being a major contributor to this offense. I expect Fournette to get the majority of the redzone and goal line work, almost adapting a LeGarrette Blount type role as someone who will have the upside of double-digit touchdowns on a low number of carries. In 2019 Ronald Jones had ZERO rushing attempts inside the redzone, with most of the work going to Peyton Barber, who is no longer on the team. I see this as the best role for Fournette and the way for him to provide the most fantasy production in 2020. Leonard Fournette will not have fantasy managers pleased with his production on a week-to-week basis, but I believe he will finish the year as a top 30 running back.