No one expected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be 6-6 and fighting for the playoffs when we were projecting this season. Fantasy football managers have endured a tough season from this Buccaneers offense as the unit has suffered a freefall to a bottom-six scoring unit. Tampa Bay has to get back on track against a tough San Francisco 49ers defense this week.
Two Buccaneers playmakers in the spotlight to produce are running backs Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette. We’re on top of all angles in this matchup for fantasy managers and bettors alike — let’s dive into whether you should start White or Fournette against the 49ers.
Should You Start Rachaad White vs. the 49ers?
We never really want to start a playmaker from an offense that hasn’t scored more than 21 points since Week 4 and has once all season long. The Buccaneers boasted the NFL’s No. 2 scoring offense and No. 1 passing attack last year, with the ninth-most rushing touchdowns in the league.
But this year, they’re 27th in scoring, fifth in passing yards, and dead last in every major rushing statistic. Losing Bruce Arians as head coach was just the tip of the iceberg this team has had to overcome, and their offensive line woes have robbed them of their promising season.
White, a third-round rookie, has been a small bright spot on the offense. He overtook Fournette as the starter in Week 10, earning 64% of the snaps and immediately getting the first 100-yard game of his career. White’s rushing totals have dipped over the last two weeks, but he’s made up for it by catching 15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
White’s receiving upside is the key part of his fantasy value. Though Fournette was wonderfully productive as a receiver last year and has met expectations in 2021, he’s clearly not been as effective this season. Fournette’s not able to create when there’s no running room due to his linear nature, compared to the shiftier and more dynamic White.
The 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. They’re incredibly stingy, allowing only 56.9 rushing yards and 27.7 receiving yards to the position. San Francisco has yet to allow a receiving touchdown as well.
They compare well to the Saints, who forced the Buccaneers to throw 15 passes to their backs. I think White is in for another bad rushing game with the opportunity to make up for it as a receiver.
With this in mind, take part in one of Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues and throw White into your lineup to help separate yourself from the pack!
White is currently ranked as the RB25 in our Week 14 PPR fantasy football rankings. He’s a low-end starter with that ranking. His value is mostly tied to his red-zone production and receiving volume. White will get touches, as he’s averaged 18.25 over the last month. We can’t be too confident in his yards or touchdown opportunities, though.
I’d feel more comfortable starting White against the 49ers than Fournette since the rookie has been more involved in the passing game, and I think Tom Brady will be under fire throughout this matchup.
Should You Start Leonard Fournette vs. the 49ers?
I thought Fournette might be phased out of the offense as the season progressed, but he’s still very relevant each week. He’s totaled at least 10 touches in every game this season, with that number spiking over the last three games.
Tampa is relying less on Brady and more on their backs. With 24 carries and seven receptions over the last two games, Fournette is just a slightly-less dangerous version of White. There’s value in that role since he’s sure to get touches.
Ranked only two spots behind White at RB27, you can start Fournette with some confidence that he’ll be involved in the offense. He’s just as likely to earn the majority of snaps as White is, and had 16 touches last week. Fournette is also still the lead back in the red zone so he has some scoring upside.
If you need a starter, you can feel comfortable with Fournette’s scoring upside. But you also don’t have to force his insertion into your lineup if you have a more consistent option for the Flex or RB2 role.