Mike James was on his way to a big game against Miami, a not uncommon sight for the rookie since taking over for Doug Martin, but he left quickly with a broken ankle that will end his season. Fantasy owners who successfully claimed James in the wake of Martin’s own injury will now be scrambling for a replacement.
Unfortunately though, that replacement likely doesn’t lie on the Bucs roster (that’s kind of a drag for the team, too).
Don’t get me wrong, Brian Leonard was servicable against the Dolphins after a solid outing with limited touches against the Seahawks, and Bobby Rainey ran well (on one play, in particular) on a late drive that ended up being the deciding possession in Tampa Bay’s first win of the year. The problem is that you aren’t likely to get James-like volume from either of these guys.
Last night, Leonard was the primary backup and saw most of the work in the wake of the injury, playing 48 snaps and picking up 22 touches while Rainey was on the field for just 11 plays, seeing his first action since coming to Tampa Bay from Cleveland.
Moving forward, though, the team appears to be set on a more even distribution. Leonard will likely stick with the early down work with Rainey better suited for third down and change of pace efforts. They’ll each get involved, limiting one another’s upside in the process.
If I’m making a pickup it’s probably Rainey – he has more upside – but the youngster had just 13 career carries coming into last night’s game so counting on the 20 touch workload that James averaged since week 6 is absurd – at least in the short term. Expect a 60-40 split in the early going in favor of Leonard, and see how coach Greg Schiano’s plan to ‘ham and egg it‘ plays out.