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Fantasy Buccaneers: Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones

Previewing Tampa Bay’s two running backs with fantasy football potential heading into draft season.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Drafting Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs has always been a little tricky. In 2015, I looked like an absolute genius finding a Pro Bowl caliber Doug Martin in the second half of my fantasy football draft. Then, in 2016 I was left scrambling to replace him after spending an earlier pick on him. Still, again I drafted the former Bucs running back in 2017 in the sixth round. We know how that worked out.

What about 2018? Is there a running back worth drafting? If so, who is he – or – is there two guys you should have on your radar heading into your league’s draft?

Let’s look at fantasy draftable Tampa Bay running backs.

*Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus

Player: Running Back, Peyton Barber (RB50 in 2017)

2017 Fantasy Football Statistics:

- 423 rushing yards

- 3 rushing touchdowns

- 2 fumbles

- 16 receptions

- 114 receiving yards

- 0 receiving touchdowns

- 86 PPR points (.45 points per opportunity)

Last season, some wondered if Peyton Barber would even last on this team. Now, the question is how much of a contributor will be.

After carrying the ball just 30 times in the first eleven games of the year, Barber totaled 71 in the final five.

Taking over the primary role for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running game he only had one game with 100-yards or more, but he also never gained fewer than 50.

In his five-game opportunity to prove he had NFL staying power the undrafted back ranked 25th in fantasy scoring. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t assured a roster spot just four months earlier.

2018 Fantasy Football Projections:

- 374 rushing yards

- 2 rushing touchdowns

- 1 fumble

- 0 receptions

- 0 receiving yards

- 0 receiving touchdowns

- 50.5 PPR points (RB77)

Is this disrespect, the presence of Ronald Jones, or a combination of the two?

If Barber matches these projections it would mean he’d drop in every statistical category recorded for NFL running backs. Every. Single. One.

Now, I’m not saying you should spend your top pick on Barber, but barring injury I don’t see how he’s going backwards.

Does this mean he’s draftable? Well, that’s where we get into the weeds a little bit. Right now, the only thing we truly know is Dirk Koetter has no problem using multiple running backs in his offense. In fact, sometimes it seems he’s so fixated on using multiple backs it leads to pulling a hot one to bring in a cold one.

So, Barber is going to get touches. But how valuable those touches will be for your fantasy roster is up in the air right now.

2018 Fantasy Football Outlook: RB, Peyton Barber

Best Match-Up: Week 16 @ Dallas Cowboys

Worst Match-Up: Week 12 @ San Francisco

Where to Draft: 10th round

Fantasy Playoff Potential: If your league’s championship round is in Week 16 then Peyton Barber has two match-ups against bottom-five fantasy run defenses in the semi-final and final round.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Player: Running Back, Ronald Jones

Obviously, there are no 2017 fantasy football stats for Jones. However, with the opportunity available to become a three-down back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers combined with his explosive ability, there’s some excitement surrounding what the USC rookie might bring to the field in 2018.

2018 Fantasy Football Projections:

- 960 rushing yards

- 5 rushing touchdowns

- 2 fumbles

- 27 receptions

- 202 receiving yards

- 1 receiving touchdown

- 179 PPR points (RB28)

Four running backs were drafted before Jason Licht added Rojo to Tampa’s mix. But there are five rookies expected to produce higher than him according to PFF’s fantasy projections.

Of those four, three were drafted before Jones. Those being Saquon Barkley (NYG), Rashaad Penny (SEA) and Sony Michel (NE).

The one newcomer leapfrogging Jones from draft position to fantasy projection is Denver Broncos rookie Royce Freeman.

Looking at the four, there’s a trend, and it’s play expectation. Outside of Michel in New England, all three of Jones’ fellow rookies ranked ahead of him pre-season are guys expected to get the majority of carries by quite a bit of a gap between them and the next guy.

The potential and history the Buccaneers have shown to split carries and spread the running back exposure is certainly playing a part in Jones’ early ADP.

2018 Fantasy Football Outlook: RB, Ronald Jones

Best Match-Up: Week 16 @ Dallas Cowboys

Worst Match-Up: Week 12 @ San Francisco

Where to Draft: 8th round

Fantasy Playoff Potential: Jones has the same soft playoff schedule Barber has of course. If he develops into the team’s main running threat by then, you’re going to be happy you grabbed him.

Poll

What is Ronald Jones’ 2018 Fantasy Football ceiling?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Top-5
    (24 votes)
  • 26%
    Top-10
    (59 votes)
  • 53%
    RB2
    (120 votes)
  • 8%
    Bench Warmer
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    Fantasy Free-Agent
    (1 vote)
223 votes total Vote Now

Both guys have the potential to get carries during the regular season. Coach Koetter has shown he tends to pigeon-hole his runners, and it’s a little concerning when relying on one of them for fantasy points.

Still, Jones has the explosiveness the Buccaneers have been missing out of the backfield and is worth rolling with in the eight-round if he’s still on the board.

Barber is not draftable for me. Best case scenario entering the year is a split option for Barber with goal line and short yard opportunities being a large portion of his rushing diet. However, if Jones sputters out of the gate or – gasp – gets injured, you better be quick to the free-agent pool as he becomes a prime volume player.