There is nothing surprising in a football team taking advantage of their best weapons to play their best possible game. That’s why Tampa Bay is using the passing game—even with highly-volatile Jameis Winston at the helm—to exploit Mike Evans’ and Chris Godwin’s talents weekly. But don’t get fooled by the presence of those three, as Tampa has also put at least one interesting rusher on the field this season and that is Ronald Jones. Peyton Barber hasn’t been bad on the season himself considering his second-fiddle role (he’s the RB45 in 2019), but Jones is currently a borderline RB2 (RB25 overall) and with the exception of a bad game in Week 11 he’s been putting up points at an RB1-performance level lately.
Jones has been the no. 1 rusher for the Bucs since Week 9 coinciding with the start of his best performances of the season. From that point on, he has had three games of 67-plus yards from the scrimmage even reaching a season-high 106 in Week 10 against the Cardinals. In that span he’s scored three rushing touchdowns and rushed the ball 11 or more times in three of the four games he’s played. If we only take his last four games into account, Jones would be averaging 15 fantasy points per game (although he’s had just one game under that mark in the span), something only 15 rushers are doing on the season.
Barber’s numbers should be higher, but he’s lost a lot of snaps to Dare Ogunbowale during the season—and keeps doing so. As Barber is basically a pure rusher without pass-catching prowess nor usage, his upside comes all down to his production on the ground. That is a problem, as he finds it hard to see more than 10 carries per game and he has not reached even 45 yards on the ground since Week 3. That means it’s touchdown-or-nothing for Barber, and he only has one in his last six games (even then, he couldn’t even reach 12 fantasy points).
Fantasy football analysis: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RBs Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber
The Jaguars have been better at stopping receivers (12th-best in points given up to opposing WRs) than rushers (8th-worst against RBs), so the two Bucs tailbacks should benefit from that this weekend. Jacksonville’s defense has been torched on the ground in each of its past three games and has allowed 241, 291, and 220 yards from scrimmage respectively to go with one, two, and two touchdowns on the ground. Those are terrible numbers and amounted to 35.1, 45.1, and 36 fantasy points going their rivals’ backfield way.
This should be a close game but Tampa should prevail. The point total is not bad at 47, and both offenses have the means to rack up points. In a high-scoring game, if Tampa takes the lead, Jones will benefit the most and rush the ball quite a bit. Considering his leading role that makes for a good flex play at the very least, and he might get back to the scoring column this weekend. Barber, on the other hand, is really too touchdown-dependent to offer any good upside and the majority of the work would be done when his chances come—if they do at all—so he should be used to run off the clock and not much more.
Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation
Start Ronald Jones
Sit Peyton Barber