Leonard Fournette is coming off of an excellent stretch with the Buccaneers, but it will still be hard to carve out a spot on this roster in 2021.
Playoff Lenny has become a very popular name in Tampa over the past five months, and rightfully so. The running performance from Leonard Fournette for the Buccaneers in the playoffs was exactly what the team needed, and his impact on that run will never be forgotten.
With that in mind, the running back room in Tampa could still look different than the one that ended the season. By that point in the year, Fournette was the starter, and Ronald Jones was the change of pace, and few others actually got touches out of the backfield.
Now, Jones should regain his spot as the early-down back. Even with Fournette’s remarkable run at the end of the season, Jones was still better between the tackles for the year. Fournette will be an excellent thunder to Jones’ lightning, but it’s unlikely that he will keep the same share of touches as he saw in the playoffs.
To make matters worse for Fournette fantasy owners, Giovani Bernard is the clear candidate to be the third-down back. Fournette was mediocre in this role last year, and the Bucs were wise to find an option with better hands.
With Jones fighting for 1,000 yards on the ground and Bernard as the prototypical Tom Brady running back, Fournette could be the odd man out if Jones minimizes his mistakes early.
This is not a bad issue for the Buccaneers, having two clear starters at running back, but Fournette needs to be willing to work and serve any role as called upon. It’s always hard to figure out the Buccaneers running back room, and going into it with any expectations other than winning could be dangerous.
Fortunately, the Buccaneers have shown a willingness to ride the hot hand, so Fournette will have a weekly opportunity to prove himself and take control of the starting job. He’s already done this once, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again.
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