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Stop That Hype Train! Ronald Jones


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter 2019 with high offensive expectations under new Head Coach Bruce Arians. In 2018, the Bucs were third in total offense with 6,738 yards. They led the league in passing with a total of 5,125 yards, which accounted for 76 percent of their total offense. Rushing the ball, however, was a much different tale. They finished 29th in the league with a total of 1,523 rushing yards. The only teams worse on the ground than Tampa Bay in 2018 were the Vikings, Steelers, and Cardinals.

In 2018, the Bucs rushing attack was led by Peyton Barber. Barber carried the ball 234 times for 871 yards and 5 touchdowns. Aside from Barber, the leading rushers on the team were the two quarterbacks in Jameis Winston (281 yards) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (152 yards). If this isn't bad enough, their next two leading rushers in Jacquizz Rodgers and Ronald Jones II had 106 yards and 44 yards rushing, respectively. In total, their running backs combined for 1,050 rushing yards.

Can the Bucs improve on these rushing totals in 2019? If the answer is yes, then Ronald Jones will almost certainly have to play a key role in the rushing attack. Last seasons 23 carries for 44 yards just won't cut it. Let's take a deeper look into what Jones brings to the table in 2019, and whether or not he can make the impact his current ADP of 115 suggests he should.

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Ronald Jones (RB, TB) ADP: 115 RB: 43

Jones had a forgettable 2018 season to say the least. He did not play in Weeks 1-3 due to the coaching staff feeling he was not ready, and he missed Weeks 9-12 due to a hamstring injury. When Jones did play, he performed lackluster at best. He only carried the ball 23 times for 44 yards, which is an average of 1.9 yards per carry. He also performed poorly in the Bucs' explosive passing attack where he only hauled in seven of nine targets for 33 yards.

At no point was he given lead back duties, and he did not register a carry in weeks 14-17. He was only on the field for a total of 90 offensive snaps the entire season, and only 18 offensive snaps in the final five weeks. This is a guy that was basically non-existent, yet there is still hype surrounding him heading into 2019 as his 115 ADP suggests. Perhaps the metrics tell a different story?

With such limited action in 2018, the metrics are going to be skewed, but they can be examined to determine what type of player Jones might be. One area where he performed well is catch rate. He managed to catch seven of his nine targets for a 77.8 percent catch rate. This was good for top 38 percent in the league. Again, it is a small sample size but shows he was able to handle a majority of his targets. The two targets he did not haul in, unfortunately, were drops. This put his drop rate at 22.2 percent, which was worst in the league. Again, keep in mind the small sample size, but you still cannot drop multiple passes on so few targets and continue to be targeted by the quarterback.

Jones performed miserably in several other metrics. He had a positive run percentage of just 69.6 percent, which ranked him in the bottom four percent of league running backs. Another area he performed poorly is yards after contact. Jones averaged only two yards after contact. This placed him in the bottom 10% of running backs. Running backs are often going to face contact running through gaps, and averaging two yards after such contact is not acceptable. He also only averaged 5.9 yards after the catch, which again, ranked near the bottom of running backs league-wide. All of these poor metrics likely contributed to his lack of playing time down the stretch.

2019 is a new year, but it will likely be the same story for Jones. In the Bucs' second preseason game versus Miami, Jones only carried the ball two times for seven yards and had a 15-yard kick return. One has to wonder how serious he is as a lead back contender if he is still returning kicks. He also missed practice Monday, August 19 due to what coach Bruce Arians deemed "soreness" in his knee. None of this is good news for the second-year back as playing time would seem especially crucial to him becoming trusted and earning a spot in this offense.

Overall, Ronald Jones seems like a running back to avoid in 2019 fantasy drafts. If you must draft a running back around pick 115, some other names to consider are Devin Singletary, Adrian Peterson, or Peyton Barber. The latter just happens to be listed atop the current Buccaneers' depth chart ahead of Jones and is likely to be the starter once again.

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