Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 2
So far, my prediction record in this new weekly feature: one catch, 12 yards, one torn ACL. Eyeball emoji. Cringe emoji. Shrug emoji.
Not quite the way I wanted to get this started, but that’s why it is called a gamble and not a lock. We gotta take some risks now and again, right? Brush it off, keep moving …
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette vs. Carolina Panthers
This week’s inclusion brings us the former Jacksonville Jaguars star back who produced a whole five yards on five carries in his Bucs debut. Ronald Jones had 12 more attempts than Fournette and 20 total utilizations to Fournette’s six. It takes time to work these things out.
In the second game as a Buccaneer, Fournette’s workload should increase. While it won’t jump to the 20-utilization level of Jones, it’s going to be into double-digits and will result in a double figures for fantasy purposes. The Week 2 opponent, Carolina, has been impressively terrible vs. the position since the beginning of 2019, and it carried into Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Josh Jacobs scored thrice, and the Panthers still look lost, even under new tutelage.
To kick off the 2020 season, Carolina permitted a score every 9.67 Raiders attempts, and the position chipped in 206 yards of total offense. The 2019 Panthers gave up 27 rushing touchdowns, or one every 14 attempts. The next closest team allowed 18 on 308 totes, or every 17.1 carries. It gets worse … Carolina surrendered three more scores to running backs in the passing game, and after Fournette’s 76-catch campaign in last season, he’s deserving of some attention in this area of the game.
Given the Week 1 struggles of Tom Brady and the star-studded passing game in Tampa, expect more balance to help keep the defense off-guard. Brady thrived in play-action passing situations, and if the coaching staff truly values his input, rest easy knowing we’ll see more running action to create defensive confusion.
The Buccaneers didn’t sign Fournette to keep him on the sidelines or give him only six chances a game. And he should have a better grasp of the system with another week under his belt. That means an expanded playbook worth of knowledge and opportunities.
This matchup is far better than last week’s in every way imaginable, and the Bucs should roll. Let’s say the game flows in a different direction and the pass-happy side of Bruce Arians shows up. A significant lead on the board for Tampa would result in extra late-game work for Fournette, so there’s a win-win component at play.
My projection: 9 carries, 42 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches, 21 yards (14.3 PPR points)