What are the Pros and Cons for R-Jo?
By: Dave Stewart (@davefantasy)
Heading into the 2020 NFL season, there was a divide nearly as wide as the Grand Canyon between Ronald Jones believers and those who considered him a bust. Shawn Vaughn, who was really nothing more than a special teams player, was being hyped as the replacement, by the most severe of Jones’ detractors. In the end, Jones had the last laugh, finishing as RB20 in PPR format.
During the regular season, Jones saw 59.4% of the team’s opportunity share. Playing in 13 games, he tabulated 1,065 scrimmage yards and 7 total touchdowns.
Despite the success that the year was for him, Jones faces an interesting set of circumstances influencing his value for dynasty leagues. First, the Bucs signed Leonard Fournette to a one-year contract just before the season began. With 41.6% opportunity share, Fournette certainly found himself a role.
In the NFL playoffs, he has been critical in helping Tampa Bay advance to Super Bowl LV. Fournette started in place of an injured Jones in the Wild Card matchup against Washington. His performance has since vaulted him into the starting role throughout the playoffs.
Whether or not Fournette returns to the team, is a major factor in evaluating the dynasty value of RoJo. The contract Fournette signed was of the “prove it” variety, and it is fair to say he did just that. So, a new deal for Fournette likely comes with a significant increase in price. Earning $2 million in 2020, he’ll likely see, at least, a threefold increase on that figure to stay in Tampa.
Fournette could also be eager to test the open market, after such a playoff run. In that case, Jones would see a notable increase in value. Another important aspect of Jones’ evaluation is the role of the running back in the offense.
Tampa Bay was among the least frequent rushing offenses in the NFL. They finished 29th in both rushing attempts and rushing yardage while finishing 4th in the league in passing yardage.
Quarterback Tom Brady signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers prior to the season, and as long as he returns, the offensive distribution is unlikely to change. Should Brady retire, however, Tampa would be in search of a new quarterback. Were they to bring in a young or otherwise inexperienced signal-caller, Jones could become more of a focal point for the offense.
Even splitting time with Fournette and playing on a pass-heavy, Brady led offense, Jones was able to establish himself as a top 20 back. He was 16th in the NFL in total touches, despite missing three games.
The passing game was somewhat friendly to Jones, as he managed to haul in 28 receptions, however, Fournette bested him in this category with 34 catches. This is another area that Jones stands to see an increase in worth, if Fournette does move onto another club.
Incidentally, 15 running back receptions also went to the sparingly used LeSean McCoy, who is not expected to be back with the team. If Jones is able to build upon his 208 touches, which would be entirely reasonable if both Fournette and McCoy depart the organization.
With 151 running back touches between them, the two potentially outgoing players would leave quite a void. Even by conservative estimates, Jones should become a top 15 ball carrier, perhaps even flirting with the top ten.
While much remains to be seen pertaining to the personnel in Tampa next season, now is the time to strike for those hoping to acquire Jones. You can capitalize on the uncertainty and hopefully get him well below cost. Though it comes with a bit of risk, the reward could be immense.