Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offseason Changes
Coaching Changes – Entirely new regime including Head Coach Lovie Smith, Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford, and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the most perplexing teams of the 2013 NFL Season. Between the constant reports regarding Greg Schiano’s job security, Josh Freeman’s plummeting performance, and a bizarre string of off the field occurrences that included an MRSA outbreak, the Buccaneers were in a state of flux the entire year. Luckily for Tampa Bay, it would appear the worst is behind them as they completely cleaned house in the offseason by bringing in an entirely new coaching staff and tweaking the offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterbacks
As of this writing, the Buccaneers intend to trot out recently acquired veteran journeyman Josh McCown as their starting quarterback. McCown was stellar in his eight games filling in for injured Bears starter Jay Cutler, throwing 13 touchdowns with just one interception. What makes the signing a bit stranger than usual, however, is the fact that McCown is already 34 years old. He’s not exactly the “quarterback of the future” for Tampa Bay. In fact, once the Buccaneers disposed of the struggling Josh Freeman, rookie Mike Glennon proved himself to be a serviceable passer. It’s likely that if McCown struggles with his new team, Glennon would take over to stop the bleeding. So in theory there are currently two NFL-level starters on Tampa Bay’s roster. The question is, what does this mean for fantasy?
Unfortunately, despite both guys being good enough to start in the NFL, neither possesses any major fantasy impact going forward. This isn’t necessarily an indictment on these two players but rather a statement regarding the strength of the quarterbacks ranked above them. To be fair, McCown did manage to aid some fantasy teams to victory last year as a backup, whether as a bye-week fill-in or as an injury replacement to Cutler or Aaron Rodgers. In that regard, McCown is a name to watch in the event your starter goes down or you need to make a pickup for a bye-week. Beyond that, there’s just no way to justify drafting either guy unless you’re in a two-quarterback league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers
Vincent Jackson has been one of the most consistent receivers in the NFL for quite some time and that shouldn’t change regardless of who is throwing him the ball this year. Jackson was tied for seventh in targets last year, leading to his 1,224 receiving yards, 14th best in the NFL. Although his touchdown total was low with just seven, Jackson proved once again that he is a skilled receiver that should put up good fantasy numbers. Most rankers have Vincent Jackson just outside the top ten at the wide receiver position, which is appropriate given the players ahead of him. He’s not in as high powered of an offense as say Jordy Nelson, but he’s going to get enough work that he should end up as a high-end WR2 in most leagues.
As for his peers, the Buccaneers parted ways with both Mike Williams and Tiquan Underwood this season, leaving room for someone to step up opposite Vincent Jackson. The Buccaneers wasted no time in trying to fill that void, drafting rookie Mike Evans out of Texas A&M. Out of all the highly touted rookie receivers in this year’s draft, I would argue Evans is in the best possible scenario. Unlike Sammy Watkins in Buffalo, the Buccaneers actually do possess the offensive weapons to support a solid passing offense. The Bills also simply do not throw the ball enough to put a great deal of fantasy stock in Watkins right away. The path for Mike Evans being the number two guy on an offense that can support two fantasy contributors should be clear and easy. With Williams and Underwood gone, and a new regime investing in a new wide receiver with their first pick, Mike Evans is absolutely worth a late round flyer and I would expect his stock to rise the closer we get to the start of the season.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Backs
Unlike Mike Evans, the new regime rarely ever favors players who were recently drafted by the incumbent. In Tampa, the player in question, of course, is running back Doug Martin. Doug Martin was a highly sought after player heading into last season as many believed he would build upon his breakout rookie campaign. Prior to his season ending shoulder injury, Martin actually was putting up fairly decent numbers. After the season ended, the Buccaneers cleaned house and made some changes to the team.
One of those changes was bringing in a veteran quarterback to essentially replace the guy the previous regime had drafted. That is not good news for Doug Martin. A new staff rarely ever wants to put stock into someone who is viewed as not being “their guy.” Head Coach Lovie Smith didn’t draft rookie Mike Glennon so he decided to bring in his own quarterback. Why should we believe Smith is going to commit to Doug Martin, another young player he himself did not select? In fact, the Buccaneers actually drafted a running back of their own in the offseason in Charles Sims out of West Virginia. That’s not to say Sims is suddenly going to steal Martin’s spot day one but it’s not exactly a vote of confidence for Martin. Lovie Smith has openly stated that although Doug Martin will have a big role in the offense, he still sees his team as needing more than one guy to get the job done. That’s essentially saying Martin will get the majority of the work but it could still be a running back by committee.
Coupled with the regime change is the fact that after Doug Martin went down, several different backs contributed in some fashion. Bobby Rainey, Mike James, and Brian Leonard all produced in Martin’s absence. This may suggest that Doug Martin was simply a product of the system he was in. Currently, Doug Martin appears to be ranked as a late first rounder. For me, that is simply way too high. I would much rather take a guy like Arian Foster where the only question surrounding his performance is health, over someone who is not only coming off an injury but has questions regarding job security. That being said, you can’t just ignore Martin’s production completely. After all, he’s shown himself capable of putting up insane fantasy numbers as evidenced by his rookie year. I would advise waiting to see if Doug falls in your draft before investing in him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies & Tight Ends
Aside from Mike Evans and Chris Sims, the Buccaneers also drafted rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins out of Washington. They also happened to sign Brandon Myers from the New York Giants. These two additions, in conjunction with second year player Timothy Wright, pretty much guarantee the tight end position to be fairly murky for fantasy owners. Much like Doug Martin, Timothy Wright’s spot as the number one guy on the depth chart could very well be in question given the new regime’s decision to bring in two tight ends. Wright did manage to put up useful numbers in the event you added him during a bye-week. The problem with that was figuring out which week he’d actually produce. It’s probably best to avoid all Tampa Bay tight ends until someone breaks away from the pack and just stick to Mike Evans as far as their rookies are concerned.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Summary
You can expect to see the same level of consistency out of Vincent Jackson while also experiencing some shakiness at the other positions for the Buccaneers. Overall it shouldn’t factor much, if at all, into Jackson’s fantasy value. It should also be pointed out that the team has went out of their way to revamp the offensive line, signing veterans left and right. That’s always a plus for any offense. Mike Evans should be the most sought after rookie receiver for fantasy purposes given his situation and pure talent. Personally, I’ll be avoiding Doug Martin if I can, barring some sort of breaking news about the team openly committing to him. The 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers could very well be this season’s worst-to-first team given their overall talent and a fresh regime in place. Just ask Herm Edwards, he has them going to the Super Bowl.