Jeff Bottari/Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed a comeback victory against the New York Giants on Monday night in what was an uncharacteristic outing all-around against the 1-7 Giants. The Bucs struggled initially, entering halftime trailing 14-6 before outscoring New York in the final two frames to take the 25-23 win and improve to 6-2.
But there was more to the slow start than what showed on the scoreboard.
Ronald Jones II, who has been the team’s leading rusher through the first seven games, some of which came in the absence of Leonard Fournette, had a quieter outing with seven carries for 23 yards and four receptions for 23 yards. But he lost his first fumble of the season, and his drop under pressure from Giants defender Blake Martinez set up the drive for the Giants to score the go-ahead touchdown in the opening quarter.
It was another tough night for Jones, who snapped a streak of three 100-yard games with a weak 34-yard outing last week against the Las Vegas Raiders.
While Monday’s game wasn’t exactly like anything the Buccaneers have put out so far this season, it wasn’t all negative.
Fournette, who didn’t touch the ball at all in Week 5, continued to climb out of the hole, building off of his success from Week 7, in which he posted 50 yards on 11 carries and grabbed six of seven targets for a season-high 47 receiving yards.
On Monday, he led the Buccaneers’ run game with 52 yards on 15 attempts while adding six targets—tied for third-most on the team. However, he only reeled in three of them for 19 yards.
With their actions against the Giants, the Buccaneers showed they have faith in the 2017 fourth overall pick even if he’s been hindered by injuries and overshadowed to this point in the year.
Looking at the trends, both Buccaneers running backs are solid additions to any roster. But if there’s one to select over the other, the statistics are starting to trend in a direction that suggests a healthy Fournette will be used slightly more than Jones as the Buccaneers continue through their season under quarterback Tom Brady.
As long as both players are on the ground, they track as RB2s without the possibility for that ceiling to elevate as they continue to split touches.
In Week 9, the Buccaneers will face the New Orleans Saints, whose defense has allowed an average of 78.3 yards per game to running backs this season—eighth-fewest in the league—and is notoriously tough against the rush. For managers who have either player slotted in at running back, it may be worth a look at your bench to reevaluate heading into a nasty matchup.