Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Joe Zollo, Chris Molina, & Chris Tyler
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like, outside of their first selection, the Bucs had an underwhelming draft class. We knew they had a third class defense they needed to fix ASAP, and when you look at the positions they selected (especially early), they did just that. But I’m not so sure they selected the right players. And really, a kicker? In the fifth round? It’s pretty clear the Bucs learned very little from the Roberto Aguayo fiasco. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
This is it. It’s put up or shut up time for Jameis Winston. Bruce Arians is a big fan, and his offense is tailor-made for Winston’s big arm. If Winston can’t trim down the turnovers and be on the field for a full 16 games, he’ll probably become a viable journeyman at quarterback for the remainder of his career. Luckily for Winston, he has no shortage of help at receiver. Mike Evans is a stud, and Chris Godwin has flashed a ton of potential. Let’s not forget about arguably the most athletic TE in the league, O.J. Howard. Now, about that running game… – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The moment the Bucs lost Adam Humphries to the Titans, and traded DeSean Jackson to Philadelphia, the fantasy community went nuts for Chris Godwin. And it’s not without reason. I’m not one to get mega-hyped for clear WR2s on a given team, but Godwin is an interesting case where improvement can come based on a new offensive scheme.
New HC Bruce Arians has no issue throwing the football. The Bucs also don’t have a good defense — or a good running game — which makes their passing offense imperative to the team’s success this season. Over Arians’ last eight seasons as an offensive coordinator/head coach, the number one WR on his teams has averaged 139 targets and 88 receptions. In fact, only four times did he have a number one WR top 100 catches (Larry Fitzgerald had three of them). But Godwin is a number two WR, right? Let’s check out those numbers: Number 2 WRs for Arians over his last eight seasons have averaged 99 targets and 54 catches, four times with 60 or more catches. Godwin heads into his third year coming off career bests in targets (95) and receptions (59) and ranks fifth in the league among WRs in contested catch rate (54.5%). I doubt he regresses. Since he finished as WR35 last season, there’s a clear path to improvement. TE O.J. Howard will see his fair share of targets, but without a dominant pass catcher at RB in Tampa, Godwin has a clear path to 100+ targets and 65+ receptions. Remember when Donnie Avery had 124 targets and 60 catches for the Colts in 2012? Yep, that was in a Bruce Arians-coached offense. Godwin’s current ADP of WR22 on Sleeper needs to come down a bit to fully embrace the breakout, but count me a believer. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
This may feel like a cop out, but let’s be honest- the only starting-caliber player on the Bucs with little to no upside is Peyton Barber. Last year is a prime example. Most people may not realize this, but Barber was ninth in the NFL last year in carries. NINTH. Two running backs in the top ten in rushing attempts last year didn’t eclipse 1,000 rushing yards, and Barber was one of them. He was fourth in the NFL in terms of a percentage of team’s carries (79.1%) and averaged only 3.7 yards per carry. I bring this up because the team spent a second-round pick on a running back last year (USC’s Ronald Jones) to give him only 30 touches, and did not sign a prominent RB during free agency, or draft one in April.
QB Jameis Winston and others have talked up Jones this offseason and how good he’s looked during OTAs, but if you’re falling for “coachspeak” in June, you’re already behind the curve. Barber’s current ADP on Sleeper is RB42 in the 10th round, behind Rams backup Darrell Henderson. After last year’s RB31 finish — yes, you read that correctly — many people would rather take the gamble on RoJo in the thirteenth or fourteenth round than Barber as an RB5. But really, with the Bucs sporting the fifth-worst run blocking grade (according to Pro Football Focus) last year, and doing little to nothing to improve their line this offseason, do you really want either? – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Tampa Bay wide receivers had a higher share of their team’s targets (67%) than any other wide receiver corps in football. They now find themselves without Adam Humphries (105 targets) or DeSean Jackson (74 targets). That makes Mike Evans an easy decision for Tampa Bay’s Trust Fall. Last year, Evans finished with 86 receptions, 1,524 yards, and eight touchdowns. Those numbers placed him as WR9 with 279.8 points in Club Fantasy scoring. Those numbers are impressive considering that until about halfway through the season, the Buccaneers receivers didn’t know who was going to be throwing them the ball on a weekly basis. From weeks 10-16, which correlated with Winston starting, Evans was the WR10.
Evans has never had a season without at least 1,000 yards receiving. He has averaged eight touchdowns a year and 143 targets a season (138 last year). He has also finished as the WR10, on average, throughout his career. Evans had 138 targets last year while fighting O.J. Howard, Adam Humphries, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, and Chris Godwin for targets. Evans sustained this success last year with only six red zone receptions. Let me repeat that: Evans scored eight times and only had six red zone receptions. Without Humphries and D-Jax, there are an extra 180 or so targets up for grabs. Evans has also played in 77 of 80 career games, making him reliably healthy thus far in his career.
Finally, Evans is being taken as WR8 and has an ADP of 19.6. Knowing that he averages a top 10 fantasy finish each year, and there is room for upside in Bruce Arians’ offense, he’s one of my top trust falls in the entire league. His targets, receptions, and red zone receptions should go up from last year. It’s also reasonable to assume that his eight touchdowns will also be his floor. Therefore, draft him. ‘Nuff said. – Chris Molina
Unless you’re a Bucs fan, and even then, you may not know the under-the-radar talent they picked up in the sixth round- Scott Miller. He is a wide receiver from the MACs very own Bowling Green University that will soon be a name you’re going to want to know. Finishing his college career with 215 catches for 2867 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns, 1,148 of those yards came in the 2018 season. His Pro Day was also pretty impressive with a 4.36 40-yard dash and a 10’ 3” broad jump. Miller’s resume shows he’s a workhorse and a competitor no matter what level of competition, but with the departure of Adam Humphries to the Titans and DeSean Jackson back home in Philly, you best believe Miller will have some touches and prove to you why he’s a deep sleeper — and subsequent rookie to watch — this upcoming season. – Chris Tyler
44 rushing yards and a lone touchdown in 2018. This guy isn’t just a sleeper, he is probably on nobody’s draft radar. Looking through this Bucs lineup, the one guy I found that could be a solid sleeper for your team is Ronald Jones. Jones appeared in only nine games last season due to injury. He was taken much higher than many expected in the 2018 draft, but there is a reason Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round. The current starter, Peyton Barber, is by far the worst starting running back in the NFL, so this leaves that backfield wide open. Jones could easily take over as the dominant back and legitimately be available in the final rounds of your draft, so don’t go all out for him. But he is definitely someone to eye once the running backs become scarce. – Joe Zollo
Now that Gerald McCoy is gone, and Jason Pierre-Paul is likely out for most (if not all) of the season, the entire Bucs defensive line is something you want to avoid. The biggest upside would be Vita Vea, but outside of him, I see no potential on the line for Tampa Bay.
Backing it up to the Linebackers, Lavonte David is a force in fantasy football. He ranked 10th amongst LBs in 2018 and he only played in 14 games. Before Kwon Alexander, David was consistently a Top 10 Linebacker in fantasy football, and he returned to that form once Alexander was hurt in 2018. Kwon has now departed for San Francisco, so that leaves all the tackling to David. As a fantasy player, you should be ecstatic. To save some reading on the secondary, there is nobody of note to draft. – Joe Zollo