It seemed as if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers proceeded through the first half of season with a simple pre-game coin flip to decide whether Ronald Jones or Peyton Barber would be the featured back for the given day.
However, after flip-flopping between both backs for much of the season, leaving each’s fantasy value in limbo, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has finally made the call that we’ve all be clamoring for. Earlier this week, second-year man Ronald Jones was officially named the team’s starting running back moving forward.
With the backing of his head coach and a workload that is trending upwards, does Jones become a fantasy must-start beginning this week vs. the Arizona Cardinals? Or are the Bucs offensive struggles too much for Jones to overcome? Let’s discuss.
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Ronald Jones’ Fantasy Outlook vs. Arizona Cardinals
Ronald Jones drew his first career NFL start this past weekend vs. the Seattle Seahawks. In a day of firsts for Jones, the Buccaneers did not shy away from featuring the former USC Trojan in their offense. After two weeks of playing an average of just 21.5% of the team’s offensive snaps, Jones was on the field for a career-best 55.3% of snaps in Week 9.
With the added playing time this past Sunday, came an additional usage amount for Jones.
His 20 touch performance was a welcome sight for Jones’ fantasy owners, as they’d seen the Bucs RB carry the ball an average of just seven times in four of his previous six games.
Yet, despite the added workload, Jones did not produce up to the standards we’d have liked to see. His underwhelming yards per carry average from last week (3.7) is becoming all too familiar for Jones of late. The Bucs new starting running back has failed to eclipse 3.9 ypc in five straight games. In fact, he’s averaged a combined 3.2 ypc over six of his last seven games.
This week’s matchup with the league’s third-worst ranked total defense in the Arizona Cardinals seems like the perfect pick-me-up game for Jones, or so one would think. However, their true struggles come in the passing game, where they allow the single-most touchdowns and fourth-most passing yards in football. Yet, Jones has shown no ability throughout his first two seasons as a pro to make us believe he will impact the game in any way as a pass-catcher. Jones has caught more than two passes in a game just once over his 17 game career, and never more than three.
The Cardinals’ defense is, however, much more apt in terms of defending the run. Now, whether that is due to actually being talented within their front-seven, or that teams can just throw the ball on them at will, is up to you to determine. Either way, they allow the 10th fewest rushing yards per game this season, while their meager four rushing touchdowns allowed are tied for the fouth-fewest total in the NFL. The Cards are also just one game removed from holding 49ers running back Tevin Coleman, who was coming off of a 37+ point outing the week prior, to just 5.6 fantasy points.
Should You Start or Sit Ronald Jones in Week 10?
Jones certainly climbs the ranks a bit due to the backing of his head coach and is worthy of a flex flyer this week. However, don’t expect high-end RB1 or RB2 numbers just because he’s been named the starter. He’s essentially just moved up within the same tier of players he was previously occupying.
The Cardinals present a difficult matchup for Jones on Sunday, plus, Peyton Barber will still be a part of the team’s offense. The Bucs haven’t had the same leading rusher in back-to-back games in over four weeks.
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