Ronald Jones II was a popular draft pick for fantasy football managers employing a “zero RB” strategy. He’d enjoyed success before and looked to be finding his role in the Buccaneers’ offense. Is his disappointing start to the season going to continue, or should you start him in fantasy football?
Should you start Ronald Jones II in Week 6?
As a second-round rookie in 2018, Jones failed to exceed 80 yards from scrimmage across the entire season. Nevertheless, some fantasy managers continued to believe in Jones through all the disappointments. With Jones entering his fourth year in the NFL, it looked as if their patience would be rewarded. Expectations were high for Jones after his 2020 breakout season. He rushed 192 times for 978 yards and 7 touchdowns while reeling in 28 catches for 165 receiving yards and a score.
Ronald Jones is an afterthought in the offense
Unfortunately for Jones, the postseason was dominated by Leonard Fournette. The legend of “Playoff Lenny” (which later became “Lombardi Lenny”) was born. Fournette touched the ball 82 times in four playoff victories, posting 348 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns. Jones, on the other hand, had just 35 touches. He ended Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl run with 139 yards and no scores.
Entering this season, it looked as if the two players would be involved in a timeshare. Head coach Bruce Arians had previously taken a “hot hand” approach, using whichever running back looked the most effective. Jones was being drafted as the RB29, while Fournette was being selected as the RB35.
Those ADPs haven’t held up, though. With 75 touches through five games, Fournette has established himself as the Buccaneers’ lead running back. Meanwhile, Jones has been the clear backup with just 28 touches.
The Buccaneers red-zone offense rarely includes Jones
Touchdowns change games in fantasy football. The score boost means that a player who was previously unproductive can have a good week. Unfortunately for Jones, the Bucs aren’t a team that relies on their running backs in the red zone. Tom Brady has 39 passing attempts from inside the 20-yard line, the highest number in the league. He also has 16 pass attempts from within the 10-yard line, the third-highest number in the NFL.
When Tampa Bay gets close to the goal line, they’re more likely to look towards Chris Godwin or Mike Evans than Jones. Rob Gronkowski is also heavily involved when he’s on the field. When they do look to use a running back, it’s rarely Jones. As a rusher, Fournette has 11 red-zone carries to Jones’ 5.
In the receiving game, Brady has been more likely to look towards Fournette or Giovani Bernard in the red zone, both of whom have been targeted more often.
The Buccaneers could turn to the running game
The Bucs face the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. The Eagles have been a decent matchup for running backs in fantasy football this season. They are allowing the 12th-most points in standard leagues. It’s an even more appealing matchup in points per reception (PPR) formats. The Eagles are allowing the ninth-most points in that format.
Perhaps most exciting for fantasy managers, though, is the fact that no team has faced more rushing attempts than the Eagles. On average, teams have rushed 33.4 times per game. With Brady nursing a thumb injury, the Buccaneers could look to keep the ball on the ground, especially if they’re leading.
Jones is currently the RB63 in fantasy football. He hasn’t touched the ball more than 7 times in a game this season, has yet to exceed 36 total yards, and has just 1 touchdown. Until fantasy managers can see that he’s going to see much higher volume or be given the ball in more valuable positions, he’s impossible to trust.
He’s the RB39 in our Week 6 fantasy running back rankings. Even with teams on a bye, you should have better options available.