Bucky Irving’s Dynasty Rookie Profile | Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Fantasy Football Outlook

After Rachaad White finished as the RB4 overall last season, what kind of fantasy impact can dynasty managers expect from Bucky Irving during his rookie year?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have struggled mightily to run the football at an efficient rate over the past two seasons, prompting the organization to select the hyper-efficient Bucky Irving out of Oregon in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

What can dynasty fantasy football managers expect from Irving heading into his rookie year in Tampa Bay?

Should You Draft Bucky Irving in Dynasty Fantasy Football?

Let’s start with what Irving brings as a running back to an NFL backfield. Irving is a slippery runner who has plus-level lateral agility, good acceleration, great contact balance, and a terrific feel for sifting through traffic in the trenches for a smaller ball carrier. Also, Irving led all FCS back with 56 receptions in 2023, which certainly suggests he can contribute as a pass catcher at the next level.

The biggest blockade standing in the way of projecting Irving to be a reliable fantasy producer is the presence of starting running back Rachaad White, who finished the year with 1,539 total yards, nine TDs, and an RB4 overall finish in PPR formats. I mention PPR formats because White is a pass-catching machine, securing 64 passes for 549 receiving yards on 70 targets in 2023.

To give you an idea of how prominently White is featured in the passing game in Tampa Bay, he ranked inside the top 10 at the running back position in targets (ninth), receptions (fourth), and receiving yards (third). This also marks the second straight season in which White finished with 50+ receptions.

This severely hinders Irving’s path to fantasy relevance and limits arguably his best trait entering the NFL as a potential afterthought working behind one of the best pass-catching backs in the league.

Now, White has struggled with his efficiency as a ball carrier in the NFL through his first two seasons, averaging just 3.64 yards per carry in 2023 — which was lower than his disappointing mark of 3.73 during his rookie season. On the flip side, Irving had a career yards-per-carry average of 6.2 over 475 carries during his college career.

If White continues to struggle on the ground on a per-touch basis, this could be the path where Irving carves out a large complementary role in this offense. Expect Irving to come off the board in the third or fourth round of your dynasty rookie draft.

Who Is Irving?

Background

Irving is a product of Hillcrest High School in the state of Illinois, where he generated 3,264 rushing yards throughout his prep days before his senior season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Irving was named first-team all-state and South Suburban Conference Player of the Year after an outstanding junior campaign, which helped him earn three-star prospect ratings by ESPN and rivals.com while earning a four-star prospect label from 247Sports.

College Production

Irving started his collegiate career as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, where he was pressed into significant action his true freshman year after starting running back Mohamed Ibrahim suffered a serious leg injury earlier in the season.

Irving capitalized on the opportunity by producing 772 total yards from scrimmage to go with four scores in 2021.

MORE: 2024 Dynasty Rookie Rankings

Despite a successful freshman campaign at Minnesota, Irving elected to transfer to Oregon heading into his sophomore year. This turned out to be a great choice because Irving nearly doubled his production across the board in his first season with the Ducks by generating 1,357 yards from scrimmage and 13 total TDs on 187 total touches in 2022.

Irving built off his stellar first year at Oregon by leading all running backs with 56 receptions to go with 1,593 total yards and 13 TDs in 2023.

Injury History

Irving dealt with an undisclosed injury toward the back half of the 2023 season but managed to play through the pain and did not miss a game his entire junior year.

Irving’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Despite not testing well at the NFL Combine with a 4.55-second 40-yard dash time, he clocked in at 21.8 MPH as a ball carrier against Portland State early in the 2023 season; flashes the speed in the open field and can destroy angles and turn any routine touch into a highlight reel.
  • Impressive contact balance and play strength for a smaller back; fights for extra yardage on every single touch; will power through arm tackles with leg churn and sheer will at times; has a great competitive spirit.
  • Exceptional start-stop ability; able to make sharp cuts without losing very much speed; capable of sudden bursts upfield when he sticks his foot in the ground to get downhill.
  • Naturally elusive ball carrier with great timing; plus-level reaction agility; feels defenders overextend and punishes them with deceptive shoulder and head faints before sticking his foot in the ground to change direction, which results in leaving defenders grasping at air.
  • Speed and suddenness to take edge even when out-leveraged by defenders.
  • Very effective gap-scheme runner with a nice feel for operating behind pulling linemen in counter and power concepts; could prove to be an effective wide-zone producer at the next level.
  • Exceptional production in the passing game; receiver-type reliability with soft hands.

Weaknesses

  • Can get a bit greedy at times and tries to bounce runs outside; leaves some easier yards on the table because of his desire to produce a big play.
  • While he does an excellent job of fighting for extra yardage through contact, his sheer power isn’t going to overwhelm bigger and more athletic defenders at the next level.
  • Limited size could see some scouts pigeonhole him into a complementary slashing/pass-catching role, which would limit his fantasy ceiling.
  • Pass protection is a concern at the NFL level; sacks given up against Washington and Colorado in 2023 raise questions about the effectiveness of handling blitzing linebackers at the NFL level.

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