2014 Team Outlook: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Josh McCown, CLE - Sleeper (undervalued)
We currently have McCown ranked as the No. 25 QB heading into 2014. The good news is he had success as a starter last season filling in for the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago. The Bucs seem to be attempting to set him up with a similar setup in Tampa. With their first two draft picks being spent on WR Mike Evans and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs provided McCown two additional 6-foot-5 targets, to go along with WR Vincent Jackson. With a solid RB in Doug Martin, this is the Sunshine State's version of Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett, and Forte. The bad news? It's a poor man's version of the Bears' skill positions and McCown has never worked with any of them. If the Bucs can keep McCown upright after allowing 47 sacks in 2013 (ranks sixth from the bottom) he could be a sleeper candidate. Two of their free agent acquisitions, OT Anthony Collins and C Evan Dietrich-Smith, should both step into the starting lineup and help improve in that area. If only due to the talent the team has at RB and WR, McCown is a sleeper candidate.
Editor's note: Jackson (6-foot-5), Evans (6-foot-5) and Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-6) give McCown three huge targets who can all challenge defenses deep down field. Even if you don't believe in McCown, there is plenty to like about this situation.
QB Mike Glennon, TB - Dynasty Only
Glennon earned significant playing time in 2013 and failed to capture the moment, losing his first five starts after taking over as starter for Josh Freeman. In total, Glennon took the field in 13 games, throwing 19 TDs and 9 interceptions. To his credit, he only had starting RB Doug Martin for three of those games and his second-best WR was Tiquan Underwood. Ultimately, Glennon just didn't look like "the guy," averaging only 176 yards passing per game. At best, he's a serviceable backup with minimal fantasy value.
RB Doug Martin, TB - Solid/Safe Pick
SOMETHING TO PROVE: Martin was one of last season's sexy picks to be a Top 5 fantasy back. A torn labrum ended his season after five games and the team scrambled to fill the void all season long. Ultimately, the team views Martin as their best running back, but they learned last year that it takes more than one RB to succeed. Heading into 2014, Tampa has said they want to use a rotation at the position, which includes Martin, Mike James (who proved to be the best backup last season, averaging nearly 5.0 yards per carry), and third-round draft pick Charles Sims out of West Virginia. This is good news for Bucs fans, as it will help to keep Martin healthy. For fantasy owners, this is not something you want to hear. Martin is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season; but if his carries are divided by not one, but two other backs... his days as a Top 5 RB are long-gone. Martin is the most talented of the three, which is why we have him ranked as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.
Editor's note: Offseason discussion about what a team wants to do doesn't have a direct correlation to what they end up doing. If it turns out that Martin is far and away the best back on the team, they'll give him the strong majority of carries. If Sims or James is unable to pull their weight, then no committee backfield is going to slow down Martin from contributing like a fantasy starter. These are the risks you take. When the Bears signed Michael Bush a few years ago, everybody thought it was the beginning of the end of a workhorse role for Matt Forte. The change never happened and Forte has found second-life in his career over the last couple seasons. That's a part of the game.
RB Charles Sims, TB - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Sims is probably the most interesting running back in the Tampa Bay backfield. Teams typically don't spend a third-round pick at the position unless they plan to use him. He could very well be the best pass-catcher out of the backfield for the Bucs. At West Virginia last year, he caught 45 passes for over 400 yards, while rushing for over 1,000. He found the end zone a total of 14 times. Keep in mind, this was in the Big 12, so it's not like he was playing against teams from New Mexico (look it up, they're bad vs. the run). Since it's a crowded backfield, Sims has his work cut out for him just getting onto the field. Due to his play-making ability and someone in the front office apparently liking him enough to spend a third-round pick on him, Sims has to be considered one of the few rookie sleeper RBs with immediate upside.
Update (8/15): Sims suffered an ankle injury that will require surgery on Saturday. Initial reports said recovery time is 12 to 14 weeks. However, it could be as long as 13 to 15 weeks, according to Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud. While it's possible that he could be back late in the season, as early as week 13, his fantasy value for 2014 is pretty well gone. However, as a dynasty league pick, SIms still holds some value. The Bucs expect him to be an asset in their passing game. In his college career, Sims caught 203 balls for 2108 yards and 11 touchdowns combined at Houston and West Virginia. As it stands, Doug Martin's value takes a tick up. Mike James and Bobby Rainey will battle for the backup/change-of-pace role.
RB Bobby Rainey, TB - Low Potential
Rainey will more than likely slip to fourth on the depth chart because of the addition of Sims. His value is tied to the health of the three guys ahead of him. Rainey led the team in rushing last year, but that hardly means he was good. He is not worth a roster spot unless the Bucs officially give him a larger role in the offense.
RB Mike James, TB - Deep-league Only
James was arguably the most-effective RB to replace Martin when he went down last season, averaging 4.9 yards per tote. An ankle injury in Week 10 ended James' season and the rest of the year was the Bobby Rainey show. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is a known advocate of running back committees, so James (who performed well when given the chance last season) should get opportunities to carry the ball; however, for fantasy purposes, he's a risky proposition and is probably a late-round stash.
Editor's note: According to our ADP figures, which are updated nearly every day, James is not being drafted in most standard leagues. Digging a little deeper by using our high stakes ADP (which naturally includes information from high stakes fantasy football drafts), James is the 86th RB drafted with an ADP of 276.3. That places him in Round 23 or 24. If the Bucs are serious about using a committee and the rookie Charles Sims does not pan out, James could be a bargain handcuff to Doug Martin. The whole backfield is a risk until someone separates from the pack.