Buccaneers 2018 tampa bay buccaneers Fantasy Preview

After two years of progress since Jameis Winston was drafted first overall in 2015, the Buccaneers regressed in 2017. Winston finished as the QB22 after coming into the season as a borderline top 10 signal-caller. Winston threw for 3,504 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 13 games. Part of what made Winston such an intriguing fantasy player early in his career was his ability to run. He rushed for six touchdowns as a rookie, but has been unable to surpass just one touchdown over the past two years. Winston's down year affected the entire offense. Mike Evans came into the season as a consensus top five receiver, even ranked No. 1 by NFL.com's Adam Rank, but he ended the year as the WR20 (71 catches, 1,001 yards, five touchdowns). Backup receivers Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson both had 50 or more receptions and over 600 receiving yards, serving as deep flex plays in certain scenarios. Tight ends Cameron Brate (TE8) and O.J. Howard (TE17) were both solid starting fantasy options considering the ineffectiveness at quarterback, finishing with six touchdowns each. The running back position limited the Bucs potential in 2017, as no back finished with 500 yards. Peyton Barber and Doug Martin each had three touchdowns and ran for 423 and 406 yards, respectively, to lead the team. The Bucs were a pass-happy team (605 passes to 390 rushes), but those numbers are hideous.

34

Peyton
Barber

RB - Buccaneers

FACT: Last year was a tale of two seasons for Barber. Over the first 10 games, Barber had just 81 rushing yards and zero touchdowns, which put him on pace for only 130 yards. In the final six games of the season, Barber rushed for 342 yards and three touchdowns, which would average out to a 912-yard, eight-touchdown season.
Offseason Moves

There wasn't a ton of roster turnover, but the Bucs' offseason had its share of drama. Jameis Winston was suspended three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will start until Week 4. At running back, Doug Martin was released to free agency in February and the team drafted Ronald Jones in the second round. Jones and Peyton Barber will compete for the lead back role. The wide receiver depth chart remains the same, with Mike Evans hoping for a bounce back season and DeSean Jackson as the No. 2. Most of the major changes to this roster came on the defensive side. Defensive end Vinny Curry and defensive tackle Beau Allen were signed from the Super Bowl champion Eagles to shore up the line. The Bucs also traded for former Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Tampa Bay's defense doesn't look draftable just yet, but they are a unit to keep in mind this season.

Sleepers & Busts

No Bucs running back was worth considering in 2017. That all changes with rookie Ronald Jones in the backfield. Rookie running backs are becoming the move in fantasy. Last season, rookies Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were all top 15 running backs. Expect similar outputs from 2018 rookies in a class stacked with Saquon Barkley, Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel, among others. Most important for Jones, he's going to get the ball in 2018. A lot. The Bucs had the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL last season. No rusher had over 500 yards and no rusher had over 150 carries. The difference between Jones and recent Bucs running backs is the new dimension he brings to the offense. In addition to the 19 rushing touchdowns Jones had last season, he was also a track star at USC. Jones is going to get the ball early and often, especially with Winston out for the first three games of the season. This will be a good time to get Jones in rhythm, and he'll do just that on his way to a solid rookie season.

Bucs tight ends had good touchdown numbers last season (six each), but that was about it in terms of their value. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard finished with only 48 and 26 catches, respectively, and both had less than 600 yards receiving. Brate had the better year, but Howard was drafted to be the tight end of the future. He showed flashes of it last year (23 percent of his catches were touchdowns), but he wasn't fully unleashed. Expect Howard to take the reins on the No. 1 tight end position this season and hurt Brate's fantasy value. This isn't to say that Brate will have a huge regression this year, as he's only 27 years old, but Howard's presence can't be overlooked. In Howard's first season, Brate lost nine catches and nearly 70 yards receiving. Those numbers will decrease even more in 2018, leading to a disappointing season if Brate owners are expecting a repeat of 2017.

Fantasy Depth Chart
POSFIRSTSECONDTHIRDOTHER
QB Jameis Winston Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB Ronald Jones Peyton Barber Charles Sims Jacquizz Rodgers
WR Mike Evans DeSean Jackson Adam Humphries Chris Godwin
TE O.J. Howard Cameron Brate
K Chandler Catanzaro