The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swooped in Wednesday night and signed 6-foot, 228-pound running back Leonard Fournette to a one-year deal, bolstering an offense that already includes Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The move came after the Jacksonville Jaguars released Fournette earlier this week and the former LSU star cleared waivers Tuesday. Fournette was slated to earn $4.17 million in the last year of his rookie deal and is now in a legal dispute with the Jaguars to claim that guaranteed money.
Fournette is coming off a great 2019 season in which he recorded a career-high 4.35 yards per carry and tallied 1,674 scrimmage yards. He’s compiled 3,640 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns in his three NFL seasons despite playing for a struggling franchise. While running backs have become less of a commodity in today’s pass-happy NFL, Fournette is still a difference-maker and his presence gives Tampa’s offense another dimension.
Here, we take a look at the betting implications of his signing with Tampa.
Best Leonard Fournette prop odds
Fournette winning MVP is the longest of longshots given the history of Bruce Arians’ pass-heavy offenses, competition on his own team (Brady), and the fact that the award almost always goes to a quarterback. As far as leading the league in rushing goes, Ronald Jones is still going to get a lot of work in this backfield.
The Bucs will also likely use Fournette in just as many passing schemes as running schemes. Last season, Fournette posted the fifth-best YPC average (3.7) against stacked fronts and faced an average of 7.1 defenders in the box. He saw the fourth-most red zone touches (54) among RBs, but only converted 3 TDs with defenses loading up against the run.
Now that he’s part of a passing offense that generates respect, though, it’s fair to assume his conversion rate will go way up. With +8000 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, Fournette leading the league in rushing TDs this year is not entirely out of the question.
The Buccaneers’ signing of Fournette did not initially impact futures odds as Tampa Bay is still +160 to win the NFC South behind the Saints (-115 at FanDuel). The Bucs also stand pat at +1500 to win Super Bowl LV with the fifth shortest odds in the NFL (tied with Dallas at FD).
The move could have roster implications as the Bucs may release veteran LeSean McCoy in the coming days to make room for Fournette, who will presumably form a tandem with Ronald Jones.
Jones was a longshot with +7500 odds to lead the league in rushing this year and his value takes a serious hit with Fournette in Tampa. From a team perspective, the Bucs are much stronger with a physical runner between the tackles who can finish drives near the goal line. Tampa finished 24th in rushing YPG, rushing TD percentage, and 28th in yards per attempt (3.7), so Fournette will help balance this offense.
Fournette’s presence should help Brady and head coach Bruce Arians to suck in the defense and set up play-action to isolate Gronkowski or Evans in the red zone, leading to easy TD opportunities. Tampa’s futures market remains steady at DraftKings Sportsbook and the Bucs win total (9.5) is tempting considering they have a modest non-conference schedule.
There is also a special offer at DraftKings Sportsbook pitting the Bucs against the Patriots with the proposition of which team will win more regular season games. The Bucs (-143) are favored with the Patriots (+118) gutted defensively and scheduled to play the toughest schedule in the NFL this season – according to last year’s win percentages.
There are also off-season specials available at DK pitting Tom Brady against Cam Newton from a statistical perspective.