Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|By Shawn Childs, Saturday, September 2, 2017|
Tampa Bay fans can feel the excitement of their next playoff berth after missing the big show in each of their last nine seasons. In Dirk Koetter's first year as head coach, the Bucs went 9-7. It was Tampa Bay's first winning season since 2010 (10-6). Koetter was the offensive coordinator for Tampa in 2015 and held the same position with Jacksonville and Atlanta over the previous eight seasons. After showing upside in offensive yards in 2015 (5th) with Jameis Winston under center, they slid to 18th last year with the same ranking in points allowed (354). Todd Monken will run the offense for the second season. He was the head coach for Southern Miss for the three previous seasons (13-25) and worked with Koetter from 2007 to 2010 at Jacksonville as the wide receiver coach. Tampa improved in yards allowed. Mike Smith returns for his second year as the defensive coordinator. Smith was the head coach of the Falcons from 2008 to 2014 where the Bucs lost QB Mike Glennon, WR Russell Shepard, WR Cecil Shorts, WR Vincent Jackson, TE Brandon Myers, and T Gosder Cherilus from their offense. Jackson was the only player of value despite being at the end of his career.
They added Ryan Fitzpatrick for depth at the QB position. The best player added was WR DeSean Jackson, who gives Winston a true big-play threat on the opposite side of Mike Evans. Tampa signed K Nick Folk and LS Garrison Sanborn.
The Bucs signed CB Robert McClain, S J.J. Wilcox, and DT Chris Baker on the defensive side of the ball. Both Wilcox and Baker played well in 2016 for the Cowboys and Redskins respectively. They should improve the depth of the defense.
CB Alterraun Verner, S Bradley McDougald, LB Daryl Smith, DT Akeem Spence, and DT Sealver Siliga were released. Each player had minimal snaps last year along with losing value.
In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bucs selected TE O.J. Howard. He's a special player with plus speed and quickness while offering strength and athletic ability, leading to multiple stars in this season combine. He has solid hands and provides an edge at all three levels of the defense. Howard will need more fire in his blocking and more strength to gain an edge early vs. press coverage.
S Justin Evans was the choice in the second round. His best value comes attacking the line of scrimmage in run and pass support. Evans is a playmaker with big hitting ability. He needs to improve his reads in the deep position. His speed grades as an edge but he needs to add more bulk.
With two picks in the third round, Tampa added WR Chris Godwin and LB Kendall Beckwith. Godwin has an interesting skill set, but it looks almost misplaced to deliver high upside. Godwin has plus speed (4.42), but lacks the acceleration to gain a winning edge off the line against stronger corners even with strength in his game. This combo hurts him over the short areas of the field. Godwin has long speed and he works hard with some short area quickness. Beckwith suffered a torn ACL in his left knee leading to him losing some value in the draft. His game works well attacking the run while needing to improve his tackling skills. He has limited range with questions surrounding his value in pass coverage.
The Buccaneers added RB Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round. He is a North/South runner with plus vision and quickness. McNichols shows the ability to make defenders miss, but his play speed has one gear. He needs to do a better job breaking tackles but he should be an asset in the passing game.
In the sixth round, Tampa invested in NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. He projects to add value in run support on early downs while his downside is tied to a low motor and an expanding waistline. He can gain an edge off the snap with power plus handling his tackling lane well.
The Bucs finished 24th in rushing yards (1,616) with only eight rushing TDs and five runs over 20 yards. They gained only 3.6 yards per carry. Tampa had 49 negative runs and 36 rushes over 10 yards.
Their offensive line allowed 35 sacks and 109 QB hits. The Buccaneers ranked 16th in passing yards (3,926) with 29 passing TDs and 18 Ints. They tied for last in the league with four passes of 40 yards or more while gaining 20 yards or more on 43 plays.
LT Donovan Smith has been a bust so far in his career after getting drafted in the second round in 2015. He allows too much pressure while accepting too many penalties. The Buccaneers need to move him to another position where his skill set has a better chance of being helpful.
LG J.R. Sweezy missed 2016 due to a back injury that required surgery in the spring of 2016. The Bucs thought enough of him to sign him to a five-year $32.5 million contract in April. He's never had a season in the NFL where he's been a true asset.
C Ali Marpet was the best player on this line in 2016. He had the biggest edge in run blocking. He showed growth in all areas in his second year in the NFL after getting drafted in the second round in 2015. He's expected to make the move from guard to center in 2017 where should still be quite solid.
RG Joe Hawley started 15 games in 2016 at center. This year he'll compete for the starting job at right tackle where he can only be a neutral option.
RT Demar Dotson peaked in 2013, but he's been a league average player over his last four seasons. He missed a couple of games in December due to a concussion.
This line has one emerging talent and one steady option. Left tackle is a huge issue that needs to be solved for Winston to have a larger window to make big plays. Both guards look to be below the league average. Based on this, I would temper my expectation in both the run and passing game.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing TDs touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing TDs (TDS).
This information is based on 2016, which will work as our starting point for 2017. We'll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2016 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2016.
2016 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL last year.
2016 Adjustment is based on the 2016 league average and the 2016 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat and the basis for strength of schedule.
Tampa plays two teams (BUF and MIA) with risk defending the run in 2016 and both of those games come within the first seven games of the season. Over the last 13 weeks of the year, the Bucs have six games (NYG, NE, ARI, CAR X 2, and GB) against teams that had success against opposing running backs.
The Buccaneers have seven games (CAR X 2, NO X 2, ATL X 2, and GB) against teams that struggle to defend the pass. All of these games come over the last nine games of the season. The Bucs have four below par matchups (CHI, MIN, ARI, and BUF), which all come early in the year.
The Buccaneers have a neutral schedule for their rushing defense. They have on tough matchup (BUF) and three favorable games (MIN, NYG, and DET).
Their pass defense will be tested in seven games (NE, ARI, NO X 2, ATL X 2, and GB). Tampa faces three teams (MIA, BUF, and NYJ) with low upside passing the ball.
Tampa ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (1,875) with 15 rushing TDs. Ball carriers gained 4.4 yards per rush with seven runs over 20 yards.
They had the same finish in passing yards allowed (4,012 – 22nd) with 24 TDs and 17 Ints. The Bucs' offensive line had 38 sacks. Tampa gave up 7.7 yard per pass attempt and a league high 16 completions over 40 yards.
DT Gerald McCoy had 45 sacks over the last five seasons. He's been an edge at his position for most of his career while playing his best ball in 2013. Gerald is a former first round pick (2010). DT Chris Baker played his best ball over the last two years for the Redskins leading to 100 combined tackles and 9.5 sacks. DE Robert Ayers missed four games in each of his last three seasons while recording 21 combined sacks and short tackles (22, 41, and 29). Robert will start the year as age 32 while being a first round pick in 2009. DE William Gholston signed a five-year extension in March worth $37 million. His game has limited value in sacks (10 in 57 games) with success defending the run. DE Noah Spence had 5.5 sacks in rotational playing time in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round. His career started at Ohio State where Noah battled his inner demons leading to a couple of failed drug tests plus an arrest in 2015 for an alcohol issue. Spence cleaned up his act and his road to the NFL ran through Eastern Kentucky in 2015. He projects as an upside edge pass rusher with his best value coming from his strength and his willingness to deliver effort on every play. Noah will need to add more variety to his pass rushing moves to have elite success in the NFL. Spence will create disruption on many plays leading to a winning edge.
LB Kwon Alexander produced 145 tackles in his second season in the league with three sacks, seven defended passes, one Ints, and one TD. Kwon is a developing talent with three down ability. LB Lavonte David lost 60 tackles off his 2015 resume while still adding five sacks with and a Ints and a TD. Lavonte was an elite player in his first two seasons in the league while being just a league average player over the last two years. Devante Bond could be the favorite to win the other starting job at linebacker after getting drafted in the sixth round.
CB Brent Grimes had his best season of his career at age 33. He had a career high 24 defended passes with four Ints and a TD. Grimes has 17 Ints and three TDs over the last four seasons. CB Vernon Hargraves was unimpressive in his rookie season after getting drafted in the first round. He did start 16 games with solid production in tackles (76) with nine defended passes (9) and a Int. Vernon is extremely athletic with an edge in his technique in coverage with play making skills. His quickness will play well at the next level, but Vernon may have some risk in the deep passing game against fast WRs as his top end speed isn't elite (4.50 – forty as the 2016 NFL Combine). Hargreaves will add value in run support. S J.J. Wilcox was brought in two start after showing improved play in 2016 even with decline in his tackles (49). His game does have risk in pass coverage. Rookie Justin Evans will compete with Chris Conte for the other start job. Evans offers the most upside after getting drafted in the second round.
This defense is a coin flip in the secondary with Grimes possibly regressing and Hargraves expected to improve. Tampa has two linebackers with talent and three defensive lineman with a chance to offer winning value. The Bucs play in a tough division to have risk in the passing game. Overall, I expect the most improvement coming in the run defense. Only a matchup play against a weak passing offense.
QB Jameis Winston - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/03/17Winston continues to battle a right shoulder injury. He struggled to find open WRs in Week 8 (210 yards with no TDs and two Ints) after gaining over 300 yards in four of his previous five games. In his six full games, Jameis has 10 TDs. Last season, he passed for 461 combined yards and two TDs in two games vs. the Saints. New Orleans struggled against QBs in Week 1 (MIN - 346/3), Week 2 (NE - 447/4), and Week 6 (DET - 312/3) while holding their other four opponents to fewer than 200 yards with no TDs. Winnable matchups and he has the weapons at WR and TE to beat this defense. It really comes down to how much you trust his health. Injury Status: Out - Shoulder - AC Joint
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/18/17Without Mike Evans in the starting lineup, Fitzpatrick struggled to find open receivers vs. the Jets. Over his last game and half, Ryan had a short completion rate (51.0) leading to 255 combined yards with two TDs and only 5.2 yards per pass attempt. He did look worthy in relief in Week 6 (290 yards and three TDs). Miami fell to 20th in the NFL vs. QBs after getting drilled by Cam Newton last week (38.20 Fantasy points). Over the last four games, the Dolphins allowed 12 passing TDs and 137 points. Not playing well, but either is Miami's defense.
RB Doug Martin - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/18/17The Bucs gave Martin 20 rushes last week, but he gained only 51 yards while failing to score a TD in his fourth straight game. Doug gained fewer than 4.0 yards per rush in each of his last five games (3.3 yards per rush on the year). Over his last three games, he only has one catch for four yards on four targets. Miami allows 4.5 yards per rush with RBs scoring six rushing TDs (only one allowed at home). The Dolphins' run defense allowed 294 yards rushing in Week 10 with two TDs while also showing risk in their two previous games (58/260). Hate his direction and low value in the passing game. Even with a TD, his final total will have a donation smell.
RB Charles Sims - Low Potential
After entering 2016 as the pass catching option on Tampa, Sims had a chance to take the starting job and run with it with Doug Martin hurt and off his game. He had 37 combined touches in Week 3 and Week 4 leading to 159 combined yards with eight catches and a TD. A knee injury cost him the next eight games with empty results in his three games (50 combined yards and three catches, 19 combined yards and three catches, and 42 combined yards and four catches) when returning. His season ended in Week 17 with a chest muscle injury. This season he should regain his role as the top pass catching options, but he may have more competition for touches in the running game. Upside of 150+ touches if he repeats his 2015 opportunity.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers - Fantasy Handcuff
As a late replacement to the roster to cover the injuries in the backfield for Tampa in 2016, Rodgers had 658 combined yards on 142 touches with two TDs and 13 catches. His best success came in his first two games with starting snaps (129 combined yards and five catches and 163 combined yards with a catch). This season he'll compete for a backup role.
WR Mike Evans - Stud (low risk)
Update 11/18/17Evans will need a special run to match his success in 2016. He came up short in New Orleans (1/13 on targets) while earning a one-week suspension for a cheap shot on CB Marshon Lattimore. Mike is on pace for 80 catches for 1,064 yards and eight TDs on 148 targets. Evans still doesn't have an impact game in 2017 while failing to gain over 100 yards in each game. Miami is about league average defending WRs (97/1231/9 on 141 targets) with three WRs having success (Keenan Allen - 9/100, Michael Thomas - 8/89/1, and Devin Funchess - 5/92/2). CB Xavien Howard struggled so far in 2017 giving Evans a chance at posting his best game. It really comes down to better play by QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
WR DeSean Jackson - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/18/17With Mike Evans out last week, Jackson had a season high ten targets leading to six catches for 82 yards. DeSean hasn't scored in his last four games with only two mid-tier games (4/84/1 and 5/106). He averages 7.2 targets per game. CB Cordrea Tankersley has downside risk giving Jackson a chance to hit on a big play. He needs to have his best game of the year to payoff for his salary.
WR Chris Godwin - Dynasty Only
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 challenge 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.
WR Adam Humphries - Low Potential
Update 11/10/17Humphries will be a dark horse this week with Mike Evans not playing. Adam doesn't have a TD this year while failing to score over 13 Fantasy points in any game. He's on pace for 62 catches for 622 yards on 86 targets. Possession type WR who will need a TD to be in play at this level.
TE Cameron Brate - Quality Backup
Update 11/18/17Brate has back-to-back poor games (1/9 and 1/10) after a string of five good games (4/80/1, 5/68/1, 6/76/1, 6/60, and 4/64). Cameron averages 5.7 targets per game. Miami has plenty of risk vs. TEs (56/484/6 on 74 targets) with the last six opponents scoring double Fantasy points (12.30, 20.60, 15.50, 14.70, 11.80, and 22.20). The Dolphins had the toughest time vs. TEs (ATL - 10/101/1, TEN - 10/62/1, and OAK - 8/93/1). Priced to payoff, which makes sense as I played him a lot last week.
TE O.J. Howard - Gamble (high risk)
Update 10/28/17As the second TE for Tampa, Howard has created matchup problems for two teams over the last month. He beat the Giants for a long TD (2/63/1) while being a big part of the Bucs' game plan last week (6/98/2) due to game flow. As good as he may look, his other four games have disaster downside (1/17, 1/12, 0/0, and 1/15) with Cameron Brate playing so well. Only a flier until get more consistent targets.
PK Nick Folk - Bye Week Fill-in
Folk defeated Roberto Aguayo in Tampa Bay's kicking competition and will be the starting place kicker on opening day. Folk is fairly consistent and the Buccaneers' offense should score plenty of points. Folk could be a solid bye-week fill-in. I'd expect Top-15 production at his position.