Tampa Bay is in the playoffs (shocking) and will look to defend their Super Bowl title from last season. With Leonard Fournette available to return from the injured reserve this week, what should fantasy football managers and DFS competitors expect from Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn?
Leonard Fournette is eligible to return this week
A hamstring injury sidelined Fournette for three weeks. Last week, he was getting work on the side during practice, and the reports stated he looked good. The expectation is that he should be good to go for the Wild Card round.
If Fournette plays, he will regain his lead role in the backfield. In the three weeks prior to suffering the injury, he averaged 16.3 carries and 6 receptions for 118.4 scrimmage yards per game. He also totaled 6 touchdowns. Fournette is a locked-in RB1 in Tampa Bay’s offense.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Ronald Jones split work two weeks ago
I’m basically going to ignore Week 18 because it was a weird 41-17 blowout by the Bucs against an already-eliminated Carolina Panthers squad. The week prior, in a game that was closer than anyone thought it would be, the backfield split between Jones and Vaughn was 10-8 in favor of Jones. Two weeks prior, Jones commanded 20 carries to Vaughn’s 7.
None of this really matters if Fournette is healthy. When Fournette is in the game, he commands the entire backfield. In his last fully healthy game before being injured, Fournette saw 19 carries for 113 yards and a TD. Jones was second up with only 3 totes. Vaughn and Jones don’t figure to have enough opportunity to have dependable upside with Fournette back.
Playoff and DFS upside for the Tampa Bay backfield
Fournette will carry a high price tag in daily fantasy contests, but he might be worth the play against the Philadelphia Eagles. Over the last four weeks, the Eagles have given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, allowing 334 rushing yards, 4 TDs, and an additional 155 receiving yards and a TD.
Fournette should be treated as a high-end RB1 this week and an elite option in fantasy playoff formats on a team that has as good a chance as anyone to make it to the Super Bowl. Jones, who is doubtful to play this week, doesn’t look like he’ll play. Vaughn is nothing more than a “break glass in case of emergency” options.