Buccaneers: Best surprise player through first six games

Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers have a new obvious RB1 in the 2021 regular season.

Leonard Fournette had a great playoff push that propelled him into the conversation for best running backs at the end of last season, but it was still hard to predict his recent renaissance with the Buccaneers.

Fournette is playing some of the best football of his entire career, and the Bucs look like they could have a legitimate starting running back to lock down for the first time in years.

As was previously mentioned, Fournette has substantially exceeded expectations through the first six weeks, even with a slow start to the season. After Ronald Jones’ breakout last season, no one could have imagined Fournette would be in firm control of the starting job at this point of the year.

Jones was the better runner last season, Fournette was the better blocker and receiver, but neither popped like this during the regular season. The postseason was where Fournette really started to turn heads when Jones was out, and it is abundantly clear that those games could have changed the trajectory of Fournette’s career.

Over the past three games, where Fournette has been the lead option in Tampa and the run game exists, he averaged 80 yards per game on the ground, four receptions per game, and 45 yards per game through the air.

If this current pace holds up, Fournette could finish the next 11 games with 880 rushing yards (which would put him over the 1,000-yard ceiling), 44 more receptions, and 495 receiving yards, which put him in the even more prestigious 1,000-yard rushing 500-yard receiving club.

Leonard Fournette is finally playing like the early first-round pick he was selected to be. He is currently matching his career-high for yards per carry, exceeding his career-high for yards per reception, and his blocking in a third-down role on this offense can’t be overlooked.

The Buccaneers have a great starting running back in Leonard Fournette. If he keeps playing as he has so far this year, another contract could easily be in his future.

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