Ke'Shawn Vaughn to the Buccaneers: Vaughn Will Be a Factor Right Away in Fantasy Football
On paper, this looks like an ideal marriage between team and player, and the move should make Vaughn immediately relevant in fantasy football.
Vaughn played the first two years of his college ball at Illinois, rushing for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns between 2015 and 2016. He also caught 25 passes for an additional 208 yards. Following the 2016 season, Vaughan transferred to Vanderbilt, where he had to wait for his opportunities due to transfer rules. But when he was able to take the field for the Commodores, Vaughn immediately began to deliver.
He rushed for 1,244 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018 while averaging 7.9 yards per attempt. He saw only limited action as a receiver, getting a mere 16 targets all season. But Vaughn reeled in 13 of them for 270 yards. In his final season, his rushing production fell. Vaughn handled 198 carries, his most in any of his four college seasons, and while he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark again (while also scoring 10 rushing touchdowns), his yards per attempt dropped to 5.2. But Vaughn also commanded a 10% share of the passing targets, catching 28 of his 38 targets for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Despite a somewhat disjointed college career, Vaughn finished his time as an amateur with one of the best dominator ratings of this year's class. His work as a pass catcher was also significant, with his 10% target share ranking in the 74th percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. Vaughn also showed a knack of for the big play, with the second-most rushing plays of 20 and 40 yards of any back in the 2020 draft class.
At the combine, Vaughn posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.51 (74th percentile). This was the ninth-fastest of the 28 participants at running back.
The landing spot for Vaughn could hardly be any better. The Buccaneers were one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL in 2019, putting up the ninth-fewest rushing yards at 1,521. As a team they averaged only 3.7 yards per attempt, the second-lowest mark in the NFL. The counting numbers line up with their efficiency numbers, according to our metrics.
The Buccaneers averaged -0.05 Adjusted Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play last season, the sixth-lowest mark of any NFL team. Their leading rusher was Ronald Jones, who posted 724 yards on 172 rush attempts (4.2 yards per attempt). But on a per-play basis, Jones was woeful. Of the 29 running backs with at least 150 rushing attempts in 2019, only six had a lower Rushing NEP per carry than Jones' clip of -0.05. One of the six was Peyton Barber, Jones' teammate.
But while Vaughn has a chance to come in and see some carries, he immediately projects to see a heavy workload as a pass catcher. The Buccaneers have a new quarterback in 2020, and if there is one thing that Tom Brady has not been afraid to do over the last few years, it is throw to his running backs. The New England Patriots have targeted their running backs 770 times across the last five seasons. Only the New Orleans Saints have targeted their backs more. Jones was never a good pass catcher in college, and he hasn't exactly flashed that skill in the pros. Advantage Vaughn.
Heading into the draft, without knowing where Vaughn would get drafted, our JJ Zachariason had pegged Vaughn as a college prospect that performed like a stud in college. Given Vaughn's profile and the great landing spot, it's fairly safe to assume JJ is quite happy with Vaughn's immediate NFL future.
Zachariason projects Vaughn for 789.5 rushing yards and 8.1 tuddies on the ground in 2020 in addition to 341.7 receiving yards and 1.49 receiving scores. Vaughn is on the RB2 (top-24) radar right away and is one of the big winners at running back in this draft.