Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Def, Buccaneers
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2015 Outlook: Deep-league OnlyLast updated on Jul-01-2015 by Shawn Childs
The Bucs have four possible tough matchups against the run – one game against the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys and two games against the Carolina Panthers. Their most favorable matchups are against the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears and two games against the Atlanta Falcons. Tampa Bay has the toughest schedule against passing offenses in the league with five real tough games – two games against the Saints and Falcons and one game against the Colts, plus three other games against teams with above average passing attacks such as the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Buccaneers will face two below average passing teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
Despite their struggles in 2014, Tampa was solid at defending the run, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry. However, they allowed the 19th-most rushing yards (1,819). Game score led to 29.2 rushing attempts per game, which were 2.5 more carries per game than the league average. The Bucs allowed 15 rushing TDs.
Their best player on defense is DT Gerald McCoy who the Bucs selected third overall in the 2010 draft. Over 13 games in 2014, McCoy was a neutral run defender who excelled when attacking the QB (nine sacks, nine QB hits, and 27 QB hurries). Gerald missed one game in September due a hand issue and the last two games of the year with a hyperextended right knee. In 2013, McCoy was the NFL's best pass rusher (10 sacks, 14 QB hits, and 56 QB hurries). Defensive end Jacquies Smith was unimpressive in his first season playing significant snaps. Smith was a below par run defender with streaky value rushing the QB (seven sacks, one QB hits, and 20 QB hurries). Defensive tackle Akeem Spence has struggled throughout his two seasons in the league. In five starts last year, Spence produced two sacks, three QB hits, and three QB hurries with no success stopping the run. Defensive end George Johnson has never been a starter in his five years in the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2010. With the Lions last year, Johnson added value in the pass rush off the bench (seven sacks, five QB hits, and 27 QB hurries). Defensive tackle Henry Melton will bolster the Buccaneer's pass rushing defense after producing six sacks, five QB hits, and 19 QB hurries off the bench in 2014. DT Clinton McDonald will also compete for playing time. He has accumulated 11 sacks over two seasons but struggles in run support.
Linebacker Lavonte David has been a solid run defender over his three years in the league and proved he can get to the quarterback in 2013 when he produced eight sacks, five QB hits, and 17 QB hurries. Last year, he struggled to get to the QB (one sack), but provided plenty of value in pass coverage. LB Danny Lansanah has a short resume of playing time during his seven years in the league. He started 11 of 15 games in 2014 and was unable to prove himself as a pass rusher (two sacks) while performing slightly above league average against the run. LB Bruce Carter had no value rushing the QB in 2014 (one sack, two QB hits, and two QB hurries) and was vulnerable against the run as well. Carter is a former 2011 second-round draft pick and he did play offer value in run support in 2012. Rookie LB Kwon Alexander has enough talent to earn starting snaps at some point the season. He'll add speed and power to the defense with some risk against the run.
Cornerback Alterraun Verner had surprising value in run support in his first season with the Buccaneers. After playing very well in pass coverage for the Titans, Verner allowed 55 catches on 78 targets for 741 yards and five TDs, though he did come away with two interceptions. Cornerback Johnthan Banks improved slightly in his second season, but he still struggled in both run support and pass. Safety Bradley McDougald was able to earn starting snaps during his second year in the league after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Bradley was a neutral run defender and decent in pass coverage. Conte looks like the favorite to win the starting free safety job. His game hasn't offered any upside in any season since being drafted in the third round in 2011. Swearinger and Moore will add depth to the secondary, though the former may end up starting at safety.
The Buccaneers finished the 2014 season with 36 sacks (21st) and allowed the 28th-most passing yards (4084) and 28 TDs compared to 14 INTs.
Tampa Bay's defense has one stud (McCoy) and two other players that will be assets (David and Verner). The Bucs don't have much talent on this defense at the other eight positions. In this year's draft, they focused on improving their offense so there isn't any young talent on the rise on the defensive side of the ball. Their run defense may be slightly above average and they did try to add some pass rushers but I don't like this defensive team structure and they really have no Fantasy upside over the long haul.
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