Fantasy Football Analysis: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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So far, the Fantasy Feud preseason tour has taken us to Jacksonville, home of breakout candidates and possibly revitalized veterans.
This week, our team breaks the huddle on the Gulf Coast, heading down I-75 to Tampa Bay for a look at the Buccaneers’ key assets.
With a new head coach comes new expectations, and the bar is set high for Bruce Arians. Arians past success getting the most out of his QBs and WRs has fantasy managers far and wide excited to see how that will translate in Tampa.
This week I’ve highlighted why the sky’s the limit for Mike Evans this season and how he could finally reach his full potential atop the WR rankings. Joining Evans, Chris Godwin has become a popular breakout candidate in 2019. Want a hot take? I’ve got one on Godwin below. Not to be forgotten, I’ll talk about how Jameis Winston can redeem himself and why fans should believe in his return to fantasy football relevance.
Sky’s the Limit: Mike Evans
Mike Evans has been the definition of consistency for the Buccaneers. In his five NFL seasons he has never missed more than two games and has never had less than 1,000 yards. At only 25, Evans is one of the premier receivers in the NFL and is just entering his prime. Amidst QB uncertainty in Tampa last season, Evans still managed to rake in a career high 1,524 reception yards.
Adding to the accolades, the former TAMU standout averaged a career best 17.7 YPC mark, and 95.3 yards per game, another career high. Personally, I think the sky’s the limit for Evans this season. He could still possibly be hampered by the uncertainty at QB but with Bruce Arians captaining this ship you can guarantee Evans will be used even more efficiently in Tampa’s offense.
When Arians took over as head coach in Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald was already considered an elite receiver but instead of leaving things the same he boldly transitioned Fitzgerald from lining up outside to the slot. That transition didn’t take off immediately but when it did Fitzgerald hauled in more receptions than he had ever managed to do in a single season. From seasons 2015-2017 Fitz’ caught over 100 passes and 1,000 yards each of the three seasons.
This innovative way of using players is one reason to get even more excited about Evans ceiling this season. Last season the only knock on Mike Evans was his lack of a red zone presence. In 2018 Evans was only targeted in the red zone 14 times, catching only six of those 14 targets. Of the six catches, four went went to the house for touchdowns.
At 6’5” Evans has the physical capabilities to be a red zone threat. You can bet Coach Arians will find ways to get his big bodied receiver more involved in the red zone this year, and more TDs means more fantasy points.
This season the Buccaneers have the benefit of a relatively easy schedule. Evans will have six games this season facing opponents whose secondaries ranked in the bottom 23 in the NFL last season in passing yards allowed. Two of the teams are on the docket twice. (New York Giants , Atlanta Falcons , Houston Texans , New Orleans Saints )
It’s not a hot take that Evans has top-3 WR potential. Last year he finished as the 9th ranked WR and currently has an ADP of 22. I would be comfortable taking Evans in the mid to late first round of my redraft leagues. If he is available in the 2nd round, it’s almost a no brainer. He will be a mainstay in your fantasy lineup all season long and could greatly exceed expectations.
Breakout Candidate: Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin is a candidate to have a breakout season. With the departure Desean Jackson and Adam Humphries, Godwin has safely secured himself in the WR2 role in Tampa Bay.
Last season Godwin hauled in 59 catches for 842 yards and 7 TDs, which are impressive numbers for a player that was usually the third option on the field. The addition of head coach Bruce Arians could benefit Godwin more then anyone on Tampa’s offense.
Arians is usually credited as a QB whisperer, but he may have even more success developing WRs. The list of WRs that have broken out under Arians include Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, and T. Y. Hilton. In 2015 John Brown was the Arizona Cardinals second WR on the depth chart and Michael Floyd had the same role in 2013. Both players posted over 1,000-yard seasons.
The combination of Godwin’s increased role and Arian’s success developing WRs could have him poised for a serious breakout campaign. Godwin currently has an ADP of 52 in most fantasy formats. In the late 4th, early 5th round, assuming a ten team league, Godwin is a steal.
If it all comes together this season Godwin could be a receiver on the brink of breaking into the top 10. I’ll even go as far as to make my first bold prediction for fantasy football this season. Chris Godwin will finish the season with more fantasy points than Stefon Diggs and Amari Cooper. You heard it here first.
Last Chance: Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston: former Heisman Trophy winner, national champion, number one overall pick, and 2015 rookie of the year. The story isn’t the same now, though. Entering a contract year is this Winston’s last chance at redemption? His fall from grace has come from numerous injuries and even more concerning off the field issues.
However, now may be the time to buy into Winston during your fantasy football draft. Many people have written Jameis Winston off after he finished as the 21st ranked fantasy quarterback last season, per FantasyPros.
This season has the potential to be Jameis’s best. Even though the last two seasons have shown a dip in Winston’s production, there are positives to take away. Since Winston’s rookie year his completion percentage has steadily climbed every year. It went from a 58.3% his rookie season, 60.8% in 2016, 63.8% in 2017, and a career best 64.6% last season.
Winston needs to cut down on his interceptions, though.He has never had a season without double digit turnovers and that must improve for him to be a trusted fantasy option week in and week out.
It’s no secret that Bruce Arians is known for his work with field generals. He’s worked with Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer. In 2015 under Bruce Arians Palmer posted career best numbers in TDs (350) and yardage (4,671). There is zero reason not to believe that Arians can have the same success if not more with Winston.
Jameis is blessed with an elite WR in aforementioned Mike Evans and great auxiliary options in Chris Godwin and O. J. Howard to throw too.
This may be it for Jameis as far as fantasy relevance if things don’t pan out in 2019. Coming into a contract year, a great new coach to help develop him, and a multitude of offensive weapons this should be Winston’s year to shine.
The signal caller currently has an ADP of 113 and is expected to be drafted in the 10th round of most fantasy drafts. That’s 7 rounds later then top rated QB Patrick Mahomes. All that Jameis’ draft position means to me is that we have a potential steal on our hands.
If Jameis is available in the 10th round, then draft him. I’d feel comfortable reaching for him in the 9th and plugging him in as my every week starter this season. If you’ve already drafted a starter and Winston is available past the 10th take a chance. He would be a great bye week option or safety net for your team, It’s quite possible he could take over your starting role.