The Bucs are expected to lean on Jacquizz Rodgers as their lead running back to begin the season. Whether or not he keeps the gig after the first three weeks is up to him. Week 4 is when Doug Martin will come back from a suspension, and he will either take over the primary job if Rodgers falters, or back up Rodgers in case the veteran begins the year on fire. We never saw Rodgers play as well as he did in 2016, averaging a career-best 4.3 yards per carry and delivering 105.4 total yards per game whenever he made 10 touches. Rodgers is 27 years old and has less than 475 career carries, so there's plenty of tread left on the tire. He's just not a spectacular runner, but more of a volume back. It's just that being the lead back for the Buccaneers is a pretty good place to be. Rodgers is a fantastic pick after 100th overall for Fantasy owners who prefer to wait for their running backs since he should have a lot of work in the early going. He's also worth pairing with Doug Martin, who will get snared in Round 6 in most leagues.
Rodgers rushed four times for 11 yards and secured his only target for five yards in Friday's 23-12 preseason loss to the Bengals. Rodgers took over for Doug Martin after the opening possession and ended up matching the latter's carries and yards. He also had modest involvement in the passing game before exiting and looked as solid as he has during camp practices overall. While the Bucs have publicly stated they're likely to go with a committee approach during the season's first three weeks while Martin finishes out his suspension, Rodgers' skill set likely lends itself to garnering the most carries in that type of scenario.
Rodgers has lost about six pounds throughout the offseason and has added quickness as a result, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Rodgers has been praised by running backs coach Tim Spencer heading into the Buccaneers' OTAs for his work ethic during the offseason. An increased level of athleticism and confidence bodes well for Rodgers' chances at seeing additional touches early in the season while Doug Martin serves his three-game suspension, with Charles Sims (pectoral) and rookie Jeremy McNichols (shoulder) also factoring into the mix. Rodgers is already a versatile weapon out of the backfield, while a slight reduction in weight figures to boost his agility.
Rodgers will face competition from 2017 fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols in the coming season, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports. Rodgers was a pleasant surprise last season after signing with the Bucs following a preseason release from the Bears, compiling a personal-best 560 rushing yards while carrying the ball a career-high 129 times. He re-signed on a cap-friendly two-year deal this offseason, but McNichols represents serious competition in terms of playing time. The rookie brings the entirety of Rodgers' skill set to the table but in more spectacular fashion, having logged more "explosive" pass plays of 16 or more yards than any other running back in his draft class outside of Tennessee's Alvin Kamara, according to Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times. McNichols also has 3,205 rushing yards (5.6 YPA) over 34 college games and solid pass-blocking skills, making him a younger and higher-ceiling version of Rodgers. However, with questions still surrounding No. 1 back Doug Martin (suspension) -- as well as his guaranteed absence for the first three weeks of the season -- Rodgers offers the Bucs the security blanket of a veteran back who is also intimately familiar with head coach Dirk Koetter's system.
Rodgers agreed to a two-year contract to stay in Tampa Bay, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Released by Chicago after the preseason, Rodgers surprisingly found himself in a prominent role with Tampa Bay later in the year, helping the Bucs overcome injuries to Doug Martin (suspension) and Charles Sims (pectoral). Rodgers is probably only the third option when everyone's available, but Martin and Sims have both struggled to stay healthy, and Martin has three games remaining on the suspension he was handed in December.
Rodgers is expected to re-sign with Tampa Bay, ESPN's Jenna Laine reports. Rodgers, who finished the 2016 season with 560 rushing yards and two TDs on 129 carries, also caught 13 passes for 98 yards over the course of 10 contests for the Bucs. In his expected return to the team's backfield mix, Rodgers would likely profile as a complementary option, though the team's overall approach to the position is tied to the status of Doug Martin, who is slated to miss the first three games of the 2017 season as he completes a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/01||New York Giants||7||14.88|
|5||10/06||New England Patriots||9||15.26|
|9||11/05||@New Orleans Saints||31||21.63|
|10||11/12||New York Jets||15||17.00|
|13||12/03||@Green Bay Packers||11||15.42|
|17||12/31||New Orleans Saints||31||21.63|
|3 Year Avg||67||273||1||14||94||0||42|