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Fantasy camp battles: Ronald Jones vs. Ke’Shawn Vaughn

The Buccaneers drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who will battle Ronald Jones for the top running back position in 2020.

Ronald Jones II (27) of the Bucs runs for yardage during the regular season game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 22, 2019 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update September 4: Arians says Jones has the starting job despite the addition of Fournette. The door is open for Fournette to earn a bigger role moving forward, but he hasn’t had much time to learn Tampa Bay’s system.

Update September 2: Leonard Fournette has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He will compete with Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield, which shakes everything up.

Update September 1: Jones is dealing with a foot injury. Vaughn could get some extra work in because of this development, but don’t expect him to be an impact player. Arians doesn’t think Jones is dealing with anything too serious, but monitoring how Jones is doing ahead of Week 1 is the smart thing to do.


Update August 25th: Jones appears to have a strong lead in the competition, while LeSean McCoy is likely ahead of Vaughn at the moment. Before camp got going, Bruce Arians said that Jones was the “main guy,” but even with multiple practices under their belt, it looks like that assertion has remained true.


In this series we will look at the most important fantasy football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity is king in fantasy, as you can’t produce fantasy statistics without getting on the field. So, the first step when looking for value plays is to project, correctly, which players will win training camp battles.

In Tampa Bay, they have a new quarterback, you might have heard about him. But they also have a new running back in rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who will compete with Ronald Jones for the lead job.

Last season Jones and Peyton Barber split work fairly evenly, as both played in 16 games and Jones had 172 rushing attempts and 31 receptions while Barber had 154 rushes and 16 receptions. Jones was more efficient as he averaged 4.2 yards per carry to Barber’s awful 3.1. Jones wasn’t great, but in comparison he was. The fact that he couldn’t win a bigger chunk of the pie is concerning.

Vaughn was selected in the third round, 76th overall. Draftniks aren’t overly high on him, but some believe he will be an upgrade over Jones. In the past, coach Bruce Arians has preferred to use a single running back rather than a committee, but that wasn’t true last season. The fact that he gave Barber so much work despite his poor efficiency shows that he needs to see something in his starting back that makes it impossible to keep him off the field.

Arians did say before the draft that he wanted to add a pass-catching back, which is presumably Vaughn. If Vaughn does become the main pass-catcher out of the backfield, that’s great for his upside, especially with Tom Brady throwing him the ball.

Verdict

Covid-19 could hurt Vaughn’s development and in turn how quickly he gets work with or over Jones. If I’m projecting a whole season, I expect the two to share work, but Vaughn has more upside due to the possibility he wins receiving work in a pass-first offense.