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Stop That Hype Train! Ke’Shawn Vaughn


The process of forming an opinion about a particular player can be built through watching video, and diving into data that helps determine each performer’s strengths and weaknesses. It also involves researching the dynamics of each player’s environment, including how they are likely to be deployed by their offensive decision-makers, and the blend of talent that surrounds them.

Enthusiasm can grow for various players, and can even escalate to an excessive level. This can result in an eagerness from many fantasy GMS to seize these performers during their drafts. Unfortunately, some players that reside among the most popular targets will not always deliver the results that had been envisioned. Some of these performers have been over-hyped during most of the offseason, while others have been promoted excessively in recent weeks.

The team at RotoBaller is providing a collection of articles that place the spotlight on these overhyped players. This supplies fantasy GMs with the analysis that fully examines every aspect of their situation, and is designed to temper unbridled enthusiasm for players that are currently being overrated. This article will examine rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn, whose pathway to a sizable workload has contained more obstacles than had been expected.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Premium articles, rankings, projections, 15 lineup tools and daily Premium DFS research/tools including our Lineup Optimizer, Research Station and so much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Overcoming Challenges At The Collegiate Level

Vaughn accumulated 3,296 rushing yards, 3,944 total yards, and 33 touchdowns during his four collegiate seasons. That included his 2,232 total yards during two years at Illinois. He led the Illini in multiple categories during his first season (157 attempts/723 rushing yards/6 touchdowns). But his usage and output declined in 2016 as the team transitioned to a new coaching staff, and Vaughn ultimately transferred to Vanderbilt.

Vaughn was entrusted with 355 attempts during his two seasons with the Commodores while rushing for 2,272 yards and 21 touchdowns. His touchdown total placed him third all-time among Vanderbilt's backs, while he also became the third rusher in school history to exceed 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.

He delivered the most productive season of his collegiate career in 2018 while leading the Commodores in attempts (157), rushing yards (1,244), and rushing touchdowns (12). His 7.9 yards per attempt average also placed him sixth overall among all backs. But that average dropped to 5.2 per attempt last season, as Vaughn labored within a talent deficient unit. This included the offensive line, as the Commodores ranked a dismal 128th out of 130 FBS teams by PFF while finishing dead last in run-blocking.

School Attempts Rushing Yards TD Receptions Receiving Yards TD
Illinois 157 723 6 16 119 0
Illinois 60 301 3 9 89 0
Vanderbilt 157 1,244 12 13 170 2
Vanderbilt 198 1,028 9 28 270 1
Overall 572 3,296 30 66 648 3

 

A Pathway To Touches In Tampa

When Tampa Bay selected Vaughn with the 76th overall pack of last April’s NFL draft, there was a legitimate rationale for believing that he was entering one of the most favorable environments among running backs in this year’s rookie class. He was joining a backfield that did not contain an unquestioned RB1, as polarizing incumbent Ronald Jones would provide Vaughn’s primary competition for touches. Pass-catching specialist Dare Ogunbowale was a prospective candidate for targets while Peyton Barber was no longer a factor after migrating northward to Washington.

Tampa Bay’s rushing attack appeared to be in need of a talent infusion, after ranking just 26th in Football Outsiders’ Offensive Efficiency Ratings. Jones finished 35th in point per game scoring last season (PPR), although that was still the highest placement by a Buccaneer back since 2016. Jones also led the backfield in receiving yards (309), while Ogunbowale paced the team's running backs in targets (46) and receptions (35).

Jones' production improved following a dreadful rookie season in 2018 (23 attempts/1.9 yards per attempt/4.9 yards per game). But conflicting opinions have been prevalent throughout the fantasy community, regarding the level of improvement that he displayed during his second year. Once fantasy GMs extract themselves from that ongoing argument, the fact remains that Tampa Bay deployed a third-round pick on Vaughn, which indicated their reluctance to entrust Jones as the unchallenged lead back. This presented Vaughn with a potential pathway toward a significant touch total during his rookie season.

The Hype Has Halted

Vaughn's opportunity to make an immediate statistical impact fueled enthusiasm for the newcomer as his stock soared after the NFL Draft. His ADP rose to Round 7 in NFFC drafts during late June (76). This placed him at RB32, which was also two slots above Jones at that point in the offseason.

However, much has transpired since that initial surge in passion for targeting Vaughn in the middle rounds, as his ADP dropped to 122/RB43 by the conclusion of August. He was confronted by multiple hurdles, including the challenges of a shortened offseason. The usual calendar of team activities was condensed substantially, which automatically forced Vaughn to contend with the absence of rookie minicamp, OTAs, and the team's mandatory minicamp. This problem was intensified by Vaughn’s encounter with COVID-19, which sidelined him during the Buccaneers’ eventual training camp for over a week.

The team’s decision to add six-time Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy to an already crowded backfield only intensified the blend of factors that have negatively impacted Vaughn’s stock. This situation was compounded even further by Vaughn’s underwhelming performances once he did emerge at training camp.

These unwanted developments have occurred as Vaughn has been injected into an environment that operates under the direction of Bruce Arians - who is entering his 16th season as an NFL coach. Vaughn’s delayed involvement in training camp was undoubtedly a factor in Arians’ recent statement that Jones would "carry the load". Arians has also stated that Vaughn's Week 1 contributions would be limited to returning kicks.

Vaughn can still overcome the cluster of issues that have transpired during the summer. But his prospects of regaining the momentum that has evaporated with fantasy GMs will be determined by his ability to create a favorable impression with his head coach, and the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback that is beginning his first season under center with the Buccaneers.

 

An Offense In Transition

Arians has a track record of developing positive relationships with his quarterbacks, to maximize his teams’ chances for success. He now begins his second season in Tampa with the opportunity to build an offensive approach in coordination with Tom Brady, which will elevate the comfort level for his new signal-caller. The Buccaneers averaged a league-best 302.8 yards per game through the air last season, while also ranking seventh in pass play percentage (62.3%). That was an aerial attack that was spearheaded by Jameis Winston and the transition to Brady will automatically require modifications in how the passing game is implemented. Brady will also have the luxury of locating the talented tandem of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans

Godwin and Evans were both among the top four in yardage, and touchdowns after Week 14, before they both encountered season-ending hamstring injuries. But they still placed among the top five in point per game scoring for the season, while combining for 2,490 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Evans’ average depth of target (aDOT) was nearly five yards higher than Godwin’s (15.2/10.5). But despite apprehension about Brady's remaining arm strength Arians will concoct an approach that enables his quarterback to locate both receivers with great frequency.

That also reduces the likelihood of Brady being asked to generate throws that he is ill-equipped to launch. Rob Gronkowski's reemergence will also provide Brady with a familiar presence at tight end.

Tampa Bay's ground game was less impressive than the passing attack during 2019, as the Buccaneers only ranked 24th overall (95.1 yards per game). They also finished 27th with an average of 3.7 yards per attempt. The rushing attack did finish fourth in red zone scoring percentage (64.8), although Barber was the team leader in attempts (22) and yardage (56) inside the 20.

 

Competition For Touches

The decision to draft Jones occurred before Arians’ arrival, which eliminates the potential for excessive loyalty toward the third-year back. But Arians’ recent comments have made it clear that Jones has confiscated RB1 responsibilities. There is potential that his words were delivered as a source of motivation to Vaughn, who must accelerate his development following the reduced involvement in team activities.

Arians will also be searching for satisfaction with his stable of running backs during the season, and it is uncertain that either Jones or Vaughn can play with the proficiency that would result in sustained lead back duties.

The Buccaneers selected Jones with the 38th overall pick during the 2018 NFL Draft, but his rookie season was forgettable. He only performed on 90  offensive snaps, carried just 23 times, and could only manufacture an anemic 44 yards with his limited number of attempts. That placed him behind Barber, and Jacquizz Rodgers, as Jones failed to perform to his draft pedigree. He also collected seven of his nine targets for just 33 yards as a receiver and remained a liability in pass protection.

But his snap count percentage rose to 36% last season, as his attempts (172), yardage (724), and touchdown totals (6) increased. Jones also accrued 309 receiving yards on 31 receptions. But despite his universal improvement in multiple categories, Vaughn’s route to a sizable workload still appeared accessible following the NFL Draft.

Running Backs Attempts YPC Rushing Yards  TD
Ronald Jones 172 4.2 724 6
Peyton Barber 154 3.1 470 6
Dare Ogunbowale 11 1.5 17 2
Running Backs Targets Receptions Receiving Yards  TDs
Dare Ogunbowale 46 35 286 0
Ronald Jones 40 31 309 0
Peyton Barber 24 16 115 1

Unfortunately for anyone who envisioned Vaughn commandeering RB1 duties in his first season, it is troubling that the Buccaneers signed 32-year old McCoy in late July. The former NFL rushing leader (2013) begins his 12th season with his fourth team and is unlikely to resurrect the lofty numbers that he achieved during his peak years. However, he does provide a veteran presence in the backfield, and his resume includes over 11,000 rushing yards and 73 touchdowns.

The addition of McCoy revealed Arians' reluctance to enter Week 1 with a backfield that was comprised of only Vaughn, Jones, and Ogunbowale. McCoy remains fully capable of procuring a respectable workload, and he could receive the highest percentage of touches in Week 1 - if Jones' foot injury becomes more serious than anticipated.

 

Vaughn’s Outlook

While enough fantasy GM's have retained enough confidence in Jones to propel his ADP into Round 5, there are tangible reasons why he is not receiving universal interest during the draft process. But there is also a strong likelihood that he will seize lead back duties in the aftermath of Vaughn’s substantial stock drop. Jones' ability to sustain that role throughout the season will be dependent on his ability to perform effectively as a rusher, receiver, and blocker. He must also elude health issues, which includes overcoming the current problem with his foot.

Jones's deficiencies during his first two seasons also built the foundation for believing that Vaughn could quickly assume a sizable role in the rushing attack. But the convergence of factors that were mentioned previously makes it unlikely that Vaughn can emerge atop the depth chart during the early portion of the regular season. It also ensures that he will not live up to the hype that was so prevalent earlier this summer.

While Vaughn may not be permanently planted in the abyss, he does need to demonstrate improvement in every major aspect of his on-field responsibilities. Not only is it important that Arians attain a favorable comfort level with Vaughn, but it is also incumbent on the newcomer to gain Brady’s trust as both a dependable receiver and a reliable pass blocker.

If he displays growth at these essential skills and can run with effectiveness, then he would garner a larger percentage of touches than his current trajectory would project. Jones’s stock could be altered at any time if he fails to satisfy Arians or loses the confidence of Brady.

But until that occurs, Vaughn’s hype train will remain stagnant. His plunging ADP does provide you with an opportunity to re-consider Vaughn at his reduced cost in Round 11. Jones still possesses his own inadequacies which will keep the runway open for Vaughn to capture an expanded role during the season.



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Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More