QB Jameis Winston – Over this seasons in the NFL, Winston has an 18-27 record. He missed three games in 2017 with a shoulder issue, which cost him a third season with over 4,000 yards passing. Over 45 games in his career, Jameis averaged 259 passing yards per game while tossing 69 TDs with 44 Ints. Last season he set a career high in yards per pass attempt (7.9) even with his top WR having a down season. Winston scored six TDs on the ground in his rookie season, but his value as a runner declined in 2016 (53/165/1) and 2017 (33/135/1). In his 12 full games last year, Jameis passed for over 300 yards six games while delivering three TDs in three games. This season he’ll start the year on the bench for three games after his three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. When on the field, Winston should average at least 250 passes yards per game with a slight edge over the league average in TDs. His receiving core didn’t get better in the offseason, which will limit his upside. Overall, Jameis had a high scoring lead WR and developing TE. Only a backup option for me in 2018.
Update: Winston has been suspended for the first three games of the season, lowering his value even more while Ryan Fitzpatrick will get a chance to lead the offense to begin the season. Winston could provide value later in the season but for now, he shouldn’t be drafted in most 12-team leagues.
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QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick threw the ball well in three of his games (290/3, 275/2, and 283/0) in relief of Jameis Winston in 2017 while coming up flat in his other game (187/1). His completion rate (58.9) was just below his career average (59.7) while falling short of Winston’ success (63.2). Ryan will compete with Ryan Griffin for the first three starts at QB for Tampa in 2018. Griffin has never appeared in an NFL game after signing with as an undrafted free agent with the Saints in 2013. Fitzpatrick’s experience gives him the first shot at the backup job. He went 2-1 last year, which gives the Bucs at least a fighting chance to win games over the first three weeks.
Update: Due to Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension, Fitzpatrick will likely start the first few games under center for the Buccaneers. They play the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers so the veteran likely won’t be much of a streaming option other than in 2 QB leagues.
RB Ronald Jones – Over three seasons at USC, Jones gained 4,242 combined yards with 42 TDs and 32 catches. His best success came in his junior season in 2017 when he gained 1,737 yards with 20 TDs and 14 catches on 275 touches. Ronald added more bulk in 2017, and it helped his explosiveness in the trenches. He runs with patience and quickness, but his move to the second level of the defense can be explosive when he is able to get full strides with his legs. Jones offers subtle cuts and shoulder fakes to create separation in the open field. He appears to stall in short areas when he doesn’t have the space to open up his stride. I like his vision, and his ability to hit the gas when he sees daylight. He showed hands catching ability, which gives him a chance to be solid in the passing games at the next level. His ability to pass protect will help him on third downs. As much as I like his upside, I have to factor in the weakness of the Bucs’ offensive line. Jones will be the top RB on Tampa in 2018, but he will struggle in games against defenses with strength against the run and a plus defensive line. I’m going to draft him with the idea of 250 touches for 1,100 plus yards with five to seven TDs and 20+ catches while understanding he has a much higher ceiling with a full-time job. Over the long season, there will be a couple of games when he gets hooked due to lack of running room. His value in the passing game does lower his floor from week-to-week in PPR leagues.
Update: 8/15/2018 > Ronald Jones doesn’t look ready to handle his pass protection responsibilities, which pushes him to the sidelines on passing downs and most third downs. Peyton Barber outplayed him so far in August, and this may continue longer than Fantasy owners hope based on Jones’s draft value in the Fantasy world. Jones is going to be a factor in this offense; it’s just a matter of when. I view him as viable upside RB after the seventh round in mid-August once a Fantasy owner has the core of his starting lineup. I expect Jones to move up and down the draft board over the next three weeks with each bit of information out of the Buccaneers’ camp.
RB Peyton Barber – Tampa signed Barber as undrafted free agent 2016 after a successful sophomore year at Auburn (238/1017/13). His game looked unimpressive based on his yards per rush (4.3), and Peyton barely had a pulse in the passing game (11/112). Over his first two seasons in the NFL, Barber rushed 646 yards on 163 carriers with four TDs. He gained 4.0 yards per rush, which supports his boring message in college. Peyton has 21 catches 142 yards in his career, which is another of limited upside. Last year Barber flashed in Week 13 (143 combined yards with four catches on 27 touches). In the previous four games of the season, Peyton gained 275 combined yards with eight catches and one TD while averaging almost 16 touches per game. Hs lack of explosiveness (two runs over 20 yards on 163 carries) pushes him to a backup running back in 2018 with minimal chances of seeing action on third downs.
Update: 8/15/2018 > Peyton Barber is now on the inside track to win the starting RB job for Tampa Bay. He does have talent, but so does Ronald Jones. I would be careful in my draft ranking heading into September. Overpaying for job loss isn’t a great move by any Fantasy owner. Barber should get most of the early down touches out of the gate with some passing catching value. The key for his playable value long-term will be his opportunity at the goal line and in the passing game. Worth a flier after round 10, but anything above that is too much of a gamble with a younger stud option behind him on the roster.
RB Charles Sims – Based on his career path, Sims makes the most sense as the third down back for the Bucs in 2018. Last year he gained 4.5 yards per rush, but Tampa only gave him 21 rushes. Charles also fell short of expectations in the passing game (35/249/1 on 47 targets). In 2015, Sims had 1,090 combined yards with four TDs and 51 catches. An injury in 2016 and a change of coaching staff led to a step back in touches last year. In 2017, the Bucs’ RBs caught 69 passes for 521 yards and one TD on 96=5 targets. Tough Fantasy bet, but his game and skill set should complement Ronald Jones well.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers – Rodgers played well in 2016 after a couple of injuries in the Bucs’ backfield, but he reverted to his boring resume in 2017. He gained only 3.8 yards per rush with one run over 20 yards on his 64 carries. Tampa didn’t look to him on third downs leading to only nine catches for 74 yards on 11 targets. Just a low-level insurance policy with no draftable value.
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WR Mike Evans – The Bucs struggled to get Evans the ball in 2017 leading to a drop off in his targets (136 compared to 173 in 2016). Mike has over 1,000 yards receiving in all four years in the NFL while scoring 32 TDs in 61 games. After catching 56 balls for over 20 yards over his first three seasons in the NFL, Evans only made nine catches of 20 yards or more last year. His scoring and big-play ability offset his low catch rate (53.4) in his career. Last season he had only one game with over 100 yards receiving compared to nine combined games in 2015 and 2016. Mike will start the year at age 25, which is the right area to expect more upside. Possible 100+ catches for 1,400+ yards and double-digit TDs. The loss of Jameis Winston should hurt his value, but it may lead to him falling in drafts. If Evans falls to the third in PPR leagues, he is going to be a steal.
WR DeSean Jackson – Tampa struggled to get Jackson involved in the deep passing game leading to a career low in his yards per catch (13.4). Ten of his 50 catches went for 20 yards or more compared to 19 of 56 on 20-16 with the Redskins. Over 14 games last year, DeSean caught 50 of his 90 targets for 668 yards and three TDs. Jackson has over 1,000 yards receiving five times in his ten seasons in the NFL. Over his last 38 games, DeSean has 11 TDs and five games with over 100 yards receiving. He’ll start the year at age 31 while still seeing WR2 coverage with Mike Evans playing the lead role at WR. I expect a rebound in 2018 leading to about 65 catches for 900+ yards with a handful of TDs, which projects to a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues.
WR Chris Godwin – Over his last two seasons at Penn State, Godwin caught 128 passes for 2,083 yards and 16 TDs. His game will add an interesting dynamic to Tampa’s passing attack. Chris has the speed to beat a defense deep while showing a willingness to work the middle of the field. His first step and release will be challenged against press coverage, but he does have enough quickness and route running ability to create separation over the short areas of the field. His hands are an edge, and he will catch many jump balls. In his rookie season, Godwin caught 34 of 55 targets for 525 yards and one TD. Over the last seven games of the year, he had four games of value (5/68, 5/68, 3/98, and 7/111/1) off the bench. His last two games came in relief of DeSean Jackson who injured his ankle in Week 15. Exciting player who will offer upside with a better role in the offense. His best shot may come unseating Adam Humphries in the slot. For now, the top handcuff for Tampa’s top two WRs.
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WR Adam Humphries – In his second year in the league, Humphries caught 55 of his 83 targets for 622 yards and two TDs followed up with a similar season in 2017 (61/631/1 on 83 targets). Adam flashed in Week 17 (7/102 on 11 targets), but he had fewer than 70 yards receiving in his first 15 games. Possession type WR with plenty of competition for targets again in 2018.
TE O.J. Howard – Alabama didn’t need Howard to win games, and they weren’t a high profile passing attack. O.J. caught 83 passes for 1,197 yards over his junior and senior seasons, but he only scored five TDs. Over 14 games in his rookie season, Howard caught 26 passes for 432 yards and six TDs on 39 targets while competing with Cameron Brate for playing time. O.J. had one elite game (6/98/2) when the Bills failed to defend him. Over his last eight games, Howard only had a playable value twice (3/52/1 and 4/54/1). He never had over six targets in any game, and he had two catches or fewer in ten of his games. His season ended in Week 15 with an ankle injury. Tampa signed Brate to a nice contract in March, which leaves Howard in the number two position again at TE. Big play TE with scoring ability, but he does lack the one key factor to have value in Fantasy games – opportunity.
TE Cameron Brate – With O.J. Howard in the mix for targets at TE, Brate only had a slight step back in chances last year. In his breakout season in 2016, Cameron caught 57 of his 81 targets for 660 yards and eight TDs. His catch rate fell to 62.3 from 70.4 leading to step back in catches (48), yards (591), and TDs (6). Tampa signed him to a six-year contract in March worth $41 million with $18 million guaranteed. Last year the Bucs’ TEs caught 84 passes for 1,124 yards and 13 TDs on 126 targets. Jameis Winston looks to his TEs in the red zone while defenses try to take away Mike Evans. With two years of success and a nice payday, Brate isn’t going away without an injury. More of same with a bar of 60 catches for 650 yards and six to eight TDs.