Continuing the F6P series of team analyses with the 2018 Fantasy Football Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview.
Over the early off-season, the Bucs have had trickles turn into rivers of back and forth heightened fantasy interest. Then things began plugging up after the suspension of Jameis Winston became a reality.
Reality bites. The Buccaneers start the season under a cloud and things aren't going to get really going normally until after the Bucs come back from their bye in Week 5. That means our fantasy choices on this team have to wait until mid-October before their fantasy production begins in earnest with the entire regular cast.
On the bright side, we have a new league face in the backfield, the receiving corps rank 3rd in the league according to Pro Football Focus, and a star tight end of good size and speed in waiting to perhaps enter higher fantasy levels in 2018.
2018 Fantasy Football Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview
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Winston is holding up the show with this three-game suspension. It all stemmed from an incident in 2016 when for some stupid reason Winston fondled a female Uber driver in Arizona. The allegations led to where we are today.
Before the suspension came down in late June, the arrows for Winston were pointing up with optimism in the fantasy community. Now he's basically undraftable and the undercurrent of it all spread around the rest the team.
We have some stats to correlate to what happens to the pass catchers with Winston and those without. It turns out that last season when Winston missed time for 3½ games or so, the production was steady enough. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson were able to generally maintain their normal levels. O.J. Howard came out okay as well. Only Cameron Brate suffered some noticeable decline during that period.
Here's the problem. The matchups with Fitzpatrick came down to scoring. In two of the three games, the Bucs scored only 10 points against opponents where the matchup on paper called for better results.
Although it makes little sense to draft Winston in single quarterback leagues, even as a stash, your finger should remain on the waiver trigger upon his return.
It was interesting to see the ebbs and flows in the fantasy community over Ronald Jones this off-season. Like most rookies on the eve of the preseason, we can say "wait and see" without as much wait. I'm actually glad pure hype did not overtake the whole story.
Now for the rest of the story. There remains a lingering committee problem which impedes his potential free-wheeling upside. The good thing is the volume projection is more than enough to give Jones a proper launch. Jones is nowhere near the size of a LeGarrette Blount type of pounding back, so a heavy workload might not ever emerge. The current outlook is 15-20 touches per game.
The rest of the support for Jones are the usual suspects we've seen in recent years on the Bucs. Here is where the owners of Ronald Jones could feel the sting of disappointment. Vulturing. As I said, Jones isn't a pounder. Near the goal and other short yardage situations, we can easily envision a hefty back like Barber answer the call. Peyton Barber is about 20 lbs. heavier than Jones.
Or worse, a fullback like Alan Cross (who?) comes in and totally wastes the six fantasy points in the deepest leagues to ensure no one gets anything for a touchdown.
Charles Sims, remains in his role as a third down and passing down back. Include Sims for the two-minute situations as well.
Ronald Jones remains the only viable draft choice in this backfield. His ADP as of August 1 stands at #58 (ECR 61), but I'm seeing him go a few spots earlier than that in some mocks. Owing to the factors mentioned above, the upper 50s and low to mid-60s seems about right.
Mike Evans continues his lower level WR1 status for 2018. As mentioned, there's no handicap for drafting him in light of Winston's suspension period. Evans sits blandly at ADP 24 as neither steal nor reach. He's one of those draft choices that just falls to you. The reason for such lukewarm target interest stems from the fact he's more likely to bust the floor than boom through the ceiling.
The reality probably lies in the middle. You get what you get with Evans - which is pretty good for PPR. He is feast or famine for touchdowns. Way up one year and way down the next. If a staggered pattern exists, then this is an up season. But who knows? What we do know is that the other weapons around Evans limit those hopes.
DeSean Jackson is one of them. I'm actually ready for one more hurrah from Jackson. He's on my list of bounce-back receivers for 2018. Another 1000+ yard season possibility makes him a massive bargain at his ADP of 172. Your eyes should bulge at that because you can't lose drafting him! He's practically free! In fact, you can only gain because I doubt he again receives under 700 yards this year.
For deeper leagues, Chris Godwin (ADP 252) offers some flex appeal. Godwin is one of those sleeper prospects that could jump out of nowhere causing a PPR frenzy to the waiver wire. Should we save the trouble and put him in the bench fills? I might consider it in a 14 team league, but for 12s or less, there are so many guys with priority ahead. He came 13th in yards per reception with 525 on 34 catches in 2017.
- O.J. Howard
- Cameron Brate
O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate offer little because neither one can break from the other. It seems that Winston prefers Brate and Fitzpatrick prefers Howard.
As 2017 moved along, Howard's usage grew until his late-season injury put a wrap on anything further. Brate flourished well with Winston, but whether that continues into 2018 remains an open fantasy question.
It leaves us unable to comfortably draft either because of the dual occupancy. If Howard can somehow get through his NFL tight end apprenticeship and emerge ahead of Brate as the sole primary target, especially in the red zone, we'd have a fantasy celebrity.
As matters stand, with Howard at TE14 and Brate at TE16, we just have to wait for 2018 play out and make the right pick up when the time comes, if it comes.
The Buccaneers continue to struggle as a franchise and the Winston suspension only helps ensure them of a bad start. They open with the Saints, Eagles, Steelers, Bears, Bye.
Yeah, bye. A real possibility of an 0-4 start. Dirk Koetter has his work cut out the rest of the way if that's how it turns out.
The Bucs are in for a rough ride and this is why having Winston for this early phase might have helped the fortunes of the players we draft on this football team. As it is, we just have to brace ourselves and hope for the best.
Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2018 season.
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