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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Ronald Jones No. 69

The Buccaneers starting RB comes in at 69 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium.  Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers backfield last season wasn’t a gold mine for fantasy football, but Ronald Jones was easily the best of the group. Yes, Leonard Fournette took over and went off in the playoffs after Jones was hurt near the end of the season, but Jones was lead back with better statistics in the regular season. He finished as PPR RB 20 and should get his chance to put up similar numbers as the Bucs try to win another Super Bowl.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 69, Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, RB

Despite missing two games last season, jones finished as RB20 in PPR leagues. I have him further down than that at RB28 due to the signing of Gio Bernard, who I believe takes away some receiving work. He also has to contend with Fournette and Keyshawn Vaughn, but I’m not as worried about those two. The good news is that the Buccaneers should be a better overall offense starting Week 1 than they were at the start of last season.

Competition for touches

Jones led the backfield last season with 192 rushing attempts for 978 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 28 of 42 targets for 165 yards and one touchdown. Fournette was next with 97 rushing attempts for 357 yards and six touchdowns and 36 receptions on 47 targets for 233 yards and no touchdowns. Fournette also was a healthy scratch for a couple games.

Fournette led the backfield in receptions last season, but that should be Bernard’s job this season. And Jones likely won’t lose all that much to Bernard, as he wasn’t used that often as a receiver. Those 200 touches should again be available to Jones, and he made the best of them with a 5.1 yards per carry rate last season.

Team offensive expectations

The good news is that the Bucs bring back all their starters from the 2020 Super Bowl win and should be on the same page from Day 1 compared to last season when it took them much of the season to gel. Health should be the only thing that might slow down this team in 2021.

What’s his upside?

Jones’ upside will likely depend on how much work Fournette and Bernard take away. He should still see enough targets to contribute some fantasy points through the air and his usage on the ground doesn’t need to be huge for him to have fantasy success in this offense.

What’s his downside?

Worst case scenario is that Playoff Lenny takes over the lead back job and holds back Jones for the bulk of the season. I don’t see that happening, but there is also no doubt that Fournette won the job in the playoffs.

Projection

200 attempts, 1,050 yards, 8 touchdowns — 25 receptions, 175 yards, 1 touchdown