2017 Fantasy Football Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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2016 Fantasy Recap

In 2016 the Buccaneers took a step forward, but not a big enough one to make the playoffs. Jameis Winston improved his game, but not enough. The running backs were a revolving door due to injuries. At one point they were down to a fourth string back. The wide receivers were led by Mike Evans and followed by nobody else. Their starting tight end never heard of Uber and was let go as a result leaving Harvard alumni Cameron Brate as Winston’s go to guy in the red zone. Despite all those wows they still managed to win nine games. With some focus on depth via free agency and the draft the Bucs retooled their offense and appear ready to take another step forward.

 

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Key Additions and Losses

Additions:

Losses:

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Quarterback Fantasy Outlook

Jameis Winston took a big step forward last year, but still has plenty of room to improve. His completion percentage was only 61%, not bad but not good either. What hurt him the most last year was his interception total at 18. If Winston wants to take the next step into QB1 ranks he will need to lower his interception total and complete his passes at a higher rate. That said I think he can do both of those things this coming season. Last year is it seemed at times that Winston was forcing the ball to Mike Evans, because he was pretty much the only viable receiver he had last year. This year however he has some new weapons at his disposal. The addition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson this past off-season and rookies OJ Howard at tight end and Chris Godwin at wide receiver should give Watson plenty of new targets. With all the new offensive weapons and a less predictable offense should help Winston complete more passes to his team and less to the other. I like Winston to flirt with QB1 numbers and considering where you can get him in the draft it is a pretty good gamble.

Grade: B+

Running Back Fantasy Outlook

For some strange reason Doug Martin is still considered the Bucs lead back. Not that the alternatives are being help back, but you would think with as poor as Martin has been the last couple of years that the Bucs would be a little more committee orientated. A lot of people are high on Martin, but I just cannot seem to get behind that idea. He is supposedly in great shape and has recommitted himself, but I am not sure it is enough. After serving an early suspension I am not sure he will get the job back as the full-time back. It is the perfect opportunity for fifth round rookie Jeremy McNichols to carve out a role. I am feel confident that Charles Sims has the role of passing down back locked up so that means for the month of the season McNichols and Jacquizz Rodgers will be fighting for the role of temporary starter and if McNichols can win that job before week one he should have no problem holding onto a share of the carries once Martin is back. Bottom line things are a mess. In PPR leagues Sims will hold the best value, where he could easily catch 60 balls for over 500 yards and a few touchdowns. If McNichols can out right win the job before Martin returns from suspension I think there will be no reason to give it back to Martin. If McNichols struggles at all Martin can come back and resume RB1 duties. Either way in redraft leagues I am avoiding both guys and in dynasty give me McNichols.

Grade: C+

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

Last year Mike Evans was a stud and this I expect Mike Evans to remain a stud. This year though he has some help. The Bucs signed DeSean Jackson via free agency and drafted Chirs Godwin in the third round. They are also returning their second leading receiver in Adam Humphries. Despite the additions Evans will remain by far and away the top targeted receiver on the team. I do think he will see less targets but will catch at a higher rate than last years 55%, which was probably so low because so many balls had to be forced to him. With more weapons in the passing game Evans should see more open field. I still think he catches over 90 balls and 1,200 yards. The 12 touchdowns will be the hardest to repeat, but he should still see at least eight. Jackson is listed as the WR2 on the team I think it will actually be Godwin or Humphries that will play that role. Jackson is not a good run blocker and is best used in stretching the field so in two wide receiver sets I think you will see Godwin or Humphries on the field over Jackson. Despite that Jackson will still the second highest scoring wide receiver on the team. I can see him getting around 55 receptions for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. So where does that leave Godwin and Humphries? Godwin is the guy to own in dynasty formats because by next year he should be the clear number two in Tampa. This year though until Jackson pulls his annual hamstring neither guy should have too much value. If everyone stays healthy I see around 45 catches for each and 500 to 600 yards with a handful of touchdowns each. Either way in redraft I am not targeting either guy.

Grade: A

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

Last year the Bucs let Austin Seferian-Jenkins walk and rode the year with Harvard alumni Cameron Brate, and he did a great job. Catching 57 balls for 660 yards and eight touchdowns. He was clearly Winston’s number two guy and his safety option in the red zone. So why did they draft O.J. Howard? Because he is a freak of an athlete who can catch run and block. A rare combo for tight ends these days. The addition of Howard will make it difficult for Brate to repeat last years numbers, but I don’t think he will just get pushed to the side. He will likely remain a big part of the red zone, but between the 20s is where he might lose some work in the passing game. He will likely drop to around 45 receptions and 500 yards, but still might hit eight touchdowns. Howard is considered the top rookie tight end, but with Brate around there is no need to lean on him year one, but he will be used often. He is too good to just have on the bench. He might catch more passes and have more yards than Brate, but likely will have less touchdowns. I can see a slash of 55/600/4

Grade: B+

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Defensive Fantasy Outlook

Last year the Bucs defense was one of the better ones, but after losing a few key players on defense, I am not sure they can repeat. They will be one of the defenses worth a roster spot but they will be towards the bottom of that list. With two games against the high scoring Falcons and Saints it is a tough road for the Bucs to be a top defense. So if you snag the Bucs are your top defense you might want to make sure you have room to stream a defense some of those weeks against some of the leagues best offenses.

Grade: B

Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.


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I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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