Bucs HC Dirk Koetter called RB Peyton Barber his starter again on Monday. We heard this back in the spring, but it's more meaningful now that we're in mid-August. Koetter went on to say that Barber "could be a three-down player if we asked him to." The 3rd-year back got the start in Thursday's preseason opener, handling the team’s first 6 RB touches. He took 4 carries for 21 yards and a TD. Rookie Ronald Jones, meanwhile, played just 1 snap with the starting offense -- and dropped a pass on it. He finished with just 9 yards and a score on 8 attempts. Koetter called his performance "pretty average." Jones is talented enough to make up ground in this battle, but it's looking like this will be a committee backfield to open the season. Don't forget that RB Charles Sims is also around to handle pass-catching work. Jones is way overvalued at his 5th-round ADP. Barber is a fine pick at his 13th-round price tag.
The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud notes that Bucs RB Ronald Jones has "struggled in pass protection" in camp so far. Stroud adds that the rookie's "hands need to become softer" as a pass catcher. This shouldn't come as a surprise after Jones totaled just 32 receptions across 3 seasons at USC. He lost passing-down work this past year to true freshman RB Stephen Carr. Jones figures to cede that role to Charles Sims in Tampa this season. It's why he's overvalued at his current RB27 ADP in PPR drafts.
The NFL is expected to suspend Bucs QB Jameis Winston 3 games for violating its personal conduct policy, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The ban stems from a March 2016 incident when Winston allegedly groped an Uber driver. Charges were never filed against Winston, but the NFL has taken a hard line in these situations since the Ray Rice debacle. Schefter does add that "the league still has not notified Winston of its official decision, and the circumstances surrounding it still could lead to an increase or decrease of the three games." So this doesn't sound officially official yet. But fantasy drafters should be planning for now on Winston missing the first 3 games of the season vs. the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. It's a blow to his best-ball value and makes him tough to draft in standard-sized lineup-setting leagues. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is in line to start while Winston serves his suspension. Fitzpatrick was serviceable in 5 appearances last year, completing 58.9% of his passes with 7 TDs vs. 3 INTs. He's unlikely to be more than a QB2 option -- especially with no teams on bye during those first 3 weeks -- but is at least capable of keeping the Bucs' skill-position guys afloat.
The Bucs selected USC RB Ronald Jones with the 38th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. He surprisingly goes ahead of LSU’s Derrius Guice. Jones shined as a committee back over his first 2 college seasons, averaging 6.3 yards per carry with 20 TDs on 330 totes. Then he really busted out as the Trojans’ feature ball-carrier last year, ripping off 1,550 yards and 19 TDs on 261 attempts (5.9 YPC). Jones has drawn Jamaal Charles comparisons, but he doesn’t possess quite the same burst or long speed (he ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day). And Jones certainly doesn’t enter the league with Charles’ pass-catching ability. He totaled just 32 catches over the past 3 seasons and lost passing-down work to freshman RB Stephen Carr this past year. This big investment likely means the Bucs see Jones as a potential 3-down back, though. It’s about an ideal a landing spot as he could have hoped for.