The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no had a 1000-yard rushers since Doug Martin in 2015. Ronald Jones could change that in a more featured role next season, making him a 2020 fantasy sleeper.
Though he was a complete bust his rookie season, Jones tapped into his potential last season, tallying 1033 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns for 135.6 fantasy points. The 25th-ranked fantasy running back, Jones was a viable FLEX option all while splitting carries with Peyton Barber.
With Barber in Washington, the path is clear for Jones to see a significant uptick in snaps and carries. Last year, Jones carried the ball just 18 times more than Barber but out-rushed him by 254 yards.
Jones was also more dangerous as a receiver, nearly doubling the number of targets and receptions Barber had and gaining 309 yards to Barber's 115.
The biggest difference between Jones and Barber were the number of explosive plays. Jones had 20 rushes that gained 10 yards or more, including six over 20 yards. Barber had just such eight carries that gained at least 10 yards and none over 20 yards.
Jones only competition in the Tampa backfield this season are third-down back Dare Ogunbowale and rookie RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn. While Ogunbowale saw more targets than Jones last year, he only ran the ball 11 times and is unlikely to take much work away from Jones.
As a rookie, Vaughn is a bit of a engima. His third-round status indicates a certain level of investment in his success, but frankly, Vaughn has never displayed the sort of explosiveness Jones exhibited for Tampa last season.
The likelihood of Jones becoming a 1000-yard rusher and a top-20 fantasy running back was already good heading into 2020. The X-factor that could make Jones a top-10 fantasy back is the arrival of Tom Brady.
Quite simply, Brady targets his running backs a lot, averaging 146.8 RB targets a season since 2015. Last year, Bucs running backs were targeted 113 times. Brady's penchant for getting the ball out quickly bodes well for Jones' usage in the pass game.
The main issue fantasy owners will have to monitor with Jones is consistency. He scored seven points or less in eight games, including two games under one point. A more featured role may help mitigate this variance, but it bears monitoring.
Though his usage and limited historical production makes him a risk in the first two rounds of a fantasy draft, Jones would be a steal if he's still available by the fourth. Between his rising stature and the presence of Tom Brady, his upside could make him a top-10 fantasy running back in 2020.