2019 Fantasy Football Draft Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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August is the most exciting time for football fans all over the country not only because of the NFL’s return, but also fantasy football. Let’s look at how the Buccaneers reality affects fantasy.

Quarterback
I hate to say it, but even going into year five, the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn’t a top-five quarterback pick. In deeper leagues, he’s a solid pick. However, there are better guys available to snag before like Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan. In average size leagues, he’s definitely a steal as a primary backup and certainly a sleeper pick to ball out. This is probably his best chance to become the quarterback he was drafted to be with Bruce Arians running the team now.

Winston still hasn’t seen the playoffs once and has only one winning season to show for his time here. What could be in his favor is that in Arizona, under Arians, Carson Palmer reached several career highs. He also reached a career-low in interceptions in a full 16-game season at 11. Palmer’s also topped 30 passing touchdowns twice in his career, while Winston hasn’t topped 30 in a single season.

If Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich can do what Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken couldn’t, then the sky’s the limit. This WILL, however, be Winston’s final chance to be the franchise quarterback in the NFL.

Running Back

If either Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones ends up as your RB1 even in a deep league, you’re in trouble. RB1 should only be reserved for solid workhorses you know is going to carry the predominant load. That being said, Barber and Jones are decent RB2 since they’re sharing the workload. If Jones does break out, he could be an RB1 in the future. But he’ll be starting from behind considering his lack of body-of-work last season.

Not having the luxury of a David Johnson or an Adrian Peterson certainly makes this position on the Bucs a headscratcher. The additions this offseason from Arians are in no way upgrades in Bruce Anderson and Andre Ellington. Otherwise, take a week-by-week approach when starting Barber or Jones.

Wide Receiver

Mike Evans is a no-brainer. He’s a definite top 10 pick in the first round given his reliability in production and scoring potential. Chris Godwin is a solid flex pick and a potential regular WR2 if Winston can hit the home run with him on the deep routes. Godwin has better chemistry with Winston than the man he’s replacing in Desean Jackson.

Given Arians’ past experience with receivers, we shouldn’t see production slowdown from the top two positions. The third/slot receiver will be a toss-up between veteran Breshad Perriman and rookie Justin Watson. Both are primary backups to Evans and Godwin, respectively.

Perriman and Watson are benchwarmers in deep leagues or free agent pick-ups at best unless the Bucs emerge with the best passing attack in the league again.

 

Tight End

Arians hasn’t had the receiving talent at tight end since he was offensive coordinator with the Steelers in Heath Miller. That being said, Jermaine Gresham didn’t pan out as well as originally hoped when he was with the Cardinals under Arians. If O.J. Howard can produce anywhere near Miller’s numbers, he would make a solid mid-tier tight end pick. Howard’s producing closer to Gresham’s numbers in yardage, but he’s scored more in the end zone.

If we see a more efficient Winston, we could see Howard finally play to his draft standing. Cameron Brate has been reliable in the past, but his production slipped in 2018 and won’t likely come back up again.

It will be interesting to see if Arians tries for more two-tight end formations for passing situations. This would be favorable in play-action. Unless Winston spreads the ball around or Howard gets injured, Brate’s not going to recapture his pre-2018 performance. It would be best to steer clear.

Defense

The Bucs defense is the biggest question mark of 2019. There is another system in place following the debacle of Mike Smith and later, Mark Duffner. Todd Bowles’ 3-4 system is one of the most aggressive in the league. He’s cracked the top 10 twice in defense for total yards surrendered (6th) in 2013 his first year as defensive coordinator under Arians and 2015 (4th) in his debut season as New York Jets head coach.

Bowles’ defenses have been in the top 10 for points surrendered four times in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He’s also in the top 10 for rushing yards surrendered three times as a top-five standing leading the league in 2013. His final years as Jets head coach saw his defense slipping to the bottom third of the league. The 2018 Jets finished 29th in points surrendered, 25th in total yards surrendered, 26th in rushing yards surrendered and 24th in passing yards surrendered.

The depleted safety corps will raise some red flags. But given Bowles’ past, wait and see what they do in the first few games before deciding.

Kicker

There are more solid choices out there for kickers. Matt Gay and Cairo Santos don’t exactly bolster confidence. Only consider them as a replacement during the bye week for now. The Bucs may find themselves in many close games, in which and field goals and extra points are a deciding factor. If that’s the case, by all means, consider whoever ends up with the position.

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