The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feature one of the more frustrating backfields heading into the 2019 season, and initial returns from training camp could have fantasy football implications for Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones.
Barber had a productive 2018 season, recording 963 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns, but his fantasy impact was inconsistent at its best and downright dreadful at its worst. The 24-year-old back was one of the least efficient fantasy running backs in recent memory, averaging just .592 fantasy points per touch despite playing in one of the league's best offenses.
Fantasy owners may be able to do better than Barber, but his handcuff doesn't inspire much more confidence either.
To say Ronald Jones had a rookie season to forget would be an egregious understatement. The 22-year-old back was pretty much invisible, totaling just 77 yards from scrimmage while averaging a miserable 1.9 yards per carry.
That lack of rushing efficiency is especially concerning because Jones doesn't exactly thrive where Barber struggles the most -- in the passing game. Barber has generally been an efficient rusher relative to his teammates, but he averaged an awful 3.2 receiving yards per target last year. Jones caught only 7 passes himself, and he never caught more than 14 in any of his three college seasons.
Based on the that, there's a real chance that the Buccaneers complicate things even more by adding another running back into the mix via trade or free agency. It is worth nothing, though, that Jones has has been turning heads at Bucs camp so far.
Still, balling out in practice is just a small part of what he needs to take control of Tampa Bay's backfield. Translating his strong practices into games is what the USC product needs to do in order to see meaningful touches, which is the key to any back's fantasy football value.
The battle between Barber and Jones will likely carry on well into the summer and may not be decided until the very last day of the preseason. Even then, they could end up splitting carries or losing some touches to a newcomer this year. Keep a close eye on this situation as you decide which Tampa back to draft. The backfield might be worth avoiding if they go with a full-on committee approach, but if a lead back emerges they could offer a ton of fantasy value as part of a strong offense.
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