Is Leonard Fournette Taking Over the Tampa Backfield?

I found this on r/fantasyfootball but it’s a summary of an article that appeared in The Athletic:

I had a short conversation with The Athletic Tampa Bay beat writer Greg Auman this week, and he mentioned a situation that played out in last week’s game that I found very enlightening. The Cliffs Notes version of his comment was that Tom Brady targeted Jones on a short pass in the flat in the second quarter that Jones wasn’t able to secure. After the pass, Brady shot head coach Bruce Arians a knowing look, and Fournette was immediately sent in as a substitute for Jones. The team then proceeded to run the exact same play, and Fournette hauled in the pass for a six-yard gain. It wasn’t an obvious changing of the guard, but I think it might speak to the direction this backfield is headed. Jones carried the ball six more times the rest of the game compared to 11 carries for Fournette.

Did Brady lose faith in RoJo? It might be an overreaction. That’s fair to say.

But it’s also Leonard Fournette we’re talking about. There has never been a time in both guys’ careers where RoJo was a better running back than Fournette. If you would’ve asked people last season whether RoJo was better than Fournette, everyone would have said no.

People lost faith in Fournette because he got cut by the Jaguars. But people have to realize that the Jaguars are tanking for Trevor Lawrence. Their front office is trying to lose games. They got rid of all the good players. They didn’t cut Fournette because he sucked, they cut him because he was good.

Last season in Jacksonville, Fournette rushed for 1152 yards. 792 of those yards came after contact. The guy was doing it all himself. His stats from his time in Jacksonville were decent, but they could have been much better if he was actually running behind a solid offensive line.

The moment the Bucs signed Fournette, everyone had to know the clock was ticking on RoJo.

RoJo has been pretty good this year. He’s the RB12 in PPR. He’s running for 4.6 yards per carry, and he’s 5th in the league in rushing yards with 506. He’s genuinely good at football.

But Leonard Fournette is also good at football, and the Bucs know that. Now he’s getting healthy, and he’s too good to be relegated to getting the table scraps in that backfield. This past weekend against the Raiders, Fournette took 56% of the snaps at running back.

RoJo only had 43%.

In terms of production against Vegas, RoJo had 13 carries for 34 yards (2.6 YPC average), and 1 reception on 2 targets for 2 yards. 14 touches on 15 opportunities, 2.6 yards per touch.

Fournette had 11 carries for 50 yards (4.5 YPC avg.), and 6 receptions on 7 targets for 47 yards. That’s 17 touches on 18 opportunities, and an average of 5.7 yards per touch.

Fournette was significantly more productive than RoJo this past weekend, got more touches, snaps and opportunities, and is now getting healthy.

RoJo is a good running back. But now that Fournette is healthy, he’s not going to get enough opportunities to maintain his current status as a low-end RB1.

Octavian

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