Leonard Fournette has been a valuable asset to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense since his arrival in 2020. However, the offense figures to be different now that Tom Brady retired.
What is Fournette’s place in the offense now? This is a major question that needs answering.
Considering his placement in the regression candidates series, the optics are bleak for the running back.
Similar to Alvin Kamara, Fournette has multiple reasons for his involvement in this series. Although, things do not look as bad for Fournette compared to his division rival.
Leonard Fournette likely gets fewer receiving chances
Again, Brady retiring changes a lot for this offense. The quarterback for the team is Kyle Trask before free agency. However, that could change in an instant.
One thing that is known is Brady loved Fournette as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He liked his talent so much that he lured Fournette back to Tampa Bay during free agency.
However, that is all in the past now.
Fournette had over 80 targets out of the backfield over the last two seasons. He was Brady’s new James White – a pass-catching wizard out of the backfield who can pick up yardage and be a top-tier check-down option for Brady.
This role can not be understated. It was a major part of Fournette’s fantasy production in his time in Tampa Bay.
There is no telling how this role could change for the running back without Brady at the helm of the offense.
Perhaps, when the Buccaneers decide on a quarterback for 2023 (and possibly beyond), this role in the offense still exists. However, Fournette would face competition at that point.
Leonard Fournette contends with Rachaad White
The Buccaneers drafted running back Rachaad White in the 2022 draft. As expected, Fournette was still the starter to open the season.
However, White proved himself in a small amount of time. He got more playing time as the season went on.
Eventually, White ended up with a prominent role in the offense. He became a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield for Brady. The running back finished the season with 50 receptions.
Fournette had higher stats than the rookie, but White’s ability to catch passes flashed in a big way.
Even worse for Fournette is he lost his starting job to White halfway through the season. While Fournette typically had a higher snap percentage, the ascending White arrived.
White took over as the team’s leading rusher, out-gaining Fournette by over 100 yards after becoming the starting running back.
However, the most damning part came in the playoffs. That is known as Fournette’s time of the year. His nickname is “Playoff Leonard Fournette” or “Playoff Lenny,” after all.
That nickname did not hold any meaning for this playoff run, however. Fournette ran the ball five times for 11 yards and had a catch for six yards.
Meanwhile, White ran for 30 more yards, had 30 more receiving yards, had three more catches and out-snapped the veteran running back by 13% in the most important game of the year.
White arrived in a big way in the back half of last season. As a result, Fournette lost his starting job and opportunities in the offense.
Now that Brady retired, there is no telling how potent the pass-catching running back role will be heading into the future. However, if the end of last year is anything to go by, White, seemingly, has the inside track on that role in the offense as well.
This leaves Fournette as a handcuff who likely doesn’t have a major, fantasy-starting role in the offense unless White gets injured.
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