The Buccaneers finished 4-12 in 2013, their third consecutive losing season and sixth consecutive season failing to make a postseason appearance. They fired head coach Greg Schiano and his staff and brought in Lovie Smith as his replacement. Smith is bringing former University of California head coach Jeff Tedford in to the run offense in 2014 with Leslie Frazier on defense. Looking ahead to 2014, there are plenty of unknowns surrounding this offense going into the season.
2014 Buccaneers Schedule
|2||St. Louis Rams|
|5||@||New Orleans Saints|
|16||Green Bay Packers|
|17||New Orleans Saints|
Tread lightly on anything strength of schedule related this early, but Tampa Bay does appear to have a solid slate of games coming out of their week seven bye. Whether or not this offense will be usable for fantasy production remains to be seen, because they will need to be much improved from where they were a season ago.
|Points Per Game||18||30|
|Avg. Scoring Margin||-6.3||28|
|Yards Per Point||15.4||19|
|Points Per Play||0.294||27|
|Yards Per Play||4.5||31|
|First Downs Per Play||0.274||29|
|RZ Att. Per Game||2.2||32|
Already a lot has been written about Tedford and what his offense can bring to the table. I recommend looking at this piece from Klye Wachtel at Football Guys to get a strong perspective of what we can expect from this offense, but let’s get into some of their skill players right away.
Who is Doug Martin?
We have quite a smattering of results from Doug Martin through his first 22 games played. 2013 was a disaster for him and the owners who invested high end draft capital in him as he posted the fourth lowest total in rushing points per rushing attempt, right between Ray Rice and Trent Richardson and was second to last out all backs in percentage of touches converted into touchdowns, just ahead of Bilal Powell. A torn labrum cut his season short after six games and in hindsight; he was stuck in a bad situation to generate any kind of fantasy production and faced a tough slate of opponents.
Martin has provided owners with quite the roller coaster ride so far, and no back has benefited from positive game script more than he has in his short career. Let’s take a look at his career game log just to see how volatile he’s been despite finishing as the second highest scorer overall in 2012.
[table id=192 /]
To put his deviation in perspective, Chris Johnson has been less volatile over the past two seasons on a week to week basis. Removing the Oakland game doesn’t move the needle on anything a whole lot, except in deviation in points per game. Despite the wonky production, Martin has still been stable as your second running back even when he fails to deliver high end weeks. It all depends on if you can buy him as such.
We know that Tedford may cap his ceiling as there is undoubtedly some sort of smoke to all of the fire around some form of a rotation coming this season, but Martin represents a solid option in drafts around RB12-15. In that area, he can still hold some equity with the possibility of still being extremely undervalued. Tedford has leaned on a singular runner in the past as well when one is a clearly better option. J.J. Arrington and Justin Forsett were 290 plus carry backs in his system. If he’s available in the third round as your second running back attached to an elite runner already, you have the opportunity to secure a real formidable backfield.
In the event of the timeshare chatter becoming a reality, Bobby Rainey and Mike James will be in the mix for opportunity since rookie Charles Sims is expected to miss three months or longer after undergoing ankle surgery. Coleman Kelly prefers Rainey to James and James has been dealing with injuries during camp so far. Leo Howell from NumberFire shares the same sentiments regarding the backfield. If Martin were to be injured, Rainey and James could be a timeshare that is largely avoidable.
Pewter Passing Game
Vincent Jackson is entering 2014 at 31-years old still without a season in which he’s reached 80 receptions or ten touchdowns receiving. Even though he was once again a top 15 scorer overall, Jackson posted only six top 24 PPR weeks in 2013. That’s problematic as he was a target monster a season ago, something that was abnormal for his career and will be unlikely to repeat itself to that degree with all the additions that the Bucs have made offensively.
*Played in only 5 games in 2010
Jackson led the entire NFL in terms of market share target percentage and had the third most targets trailing by two or more scores at 51 (32 percent of his total). He was third in the league in routes per target, but 20th in routes per reception, aiding another season in which he failed to post a catch rate of at least 60 percent, something he’s only done once in his career. The types of targets he generally receives already come with an inherently low success rate, so removing some targets from the equation does hurt him some.
It’s not all bad, however. Despite being underwhelming in the red zone a season ago, converting only four of 19 targets for scores, Jackson still ranks as the fourth best receiver in that area of the field since he entered the league in 2008.
[table id=193 /]
The big rub with Jackson though is that he currently has an extremely inflated price tag as a top 12 receiver. Owners can get the same weekly viability from Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace nearly thirty picks later in drafts, and both were a little less volatile weekly despite not carrying the true ceiling of Jackson. Jackson is an ideal third receiver if you can land him at that spot, but he’s not a player I want to rely on as a core weekly performer.
Of course, there’s also good reason to believe he will lose in the neighborhood of five percent of his target share or more, and the main reason is because Tampa Bay invested premium draft capital on Mike Evans with the number nine pick this offseason. Evans was my highest graded receiver entering the draft and profiles to be a true lead wide receiver despite some scattershot comparables. For fantasy purposes, only 11 receivers have posted 150 fantasy points or more in a season, so there are plenty of reasons to temper immediate expectations. Ironically, two of those 11 players were Buccaneers in Mike Williams and Michael Clayton. A player that may into some big weeks during the season, Evans is slipping into an area with other high volatile options, so I don’t hate him after the single digit rounds if he’s still there as your WR5 with upside.
Evans’ strengths vertically are very similar to Jackson, and defenses are going to have to play coverage over the top of this offense, which creates a tremendous opportunity for whoever is playing in the slot to see accommodating coverage and space this season. I’ve kicked the tires on rookie Robert Herron possibly earning playing time at some point, but their could be a revolving door at the third receiver spot in this offense.
Tampa Bay has brought in the off script offense hero, Brandon Myers and spent a second round draft choice on Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins was the tight end I had graded highest out of this draft and he’s an elite scoring force in the red zone. ASJ converted 19 of 38 red zone targets over his final three seasons at Washington for touchdowns. Being a red zone force is probably going to be his initial strength in the NFL, because rookie tight ends just rarely produce for fantasy. Even with that pristine resume, only 13 rookie tight ends have ever score six or more touchdowns in a season. For 2014, Seferian-Jenkins may not be a huge force between the twenties.
Tampa QB Quagmire
With all intents we’ve gotten thus far from the organization, Josh McCown will be the starting quarterback to begin the season. McCown had something of a renaissance campaign at age 34 a season ago under Marc Trestman, inking a two year, $10 million contract in free agency.
McCown finished seventh in adjusted yards per aimed attempt (AY/AA) and fourth in fantasy points per aimed throw (FPAT) in 2013, but it’s likely that he isn’t who you think he is based off of that performance. His 13 touchdown passes were a career high in 11 seasons in the NFL, and JJ Zachariason explains why Tampa shouldn’t have signed him in the first place and you shouldn’t ignore what he did (or didn’t do) prior to last season. McCown is a favorite flier in fantasy circles because of the Tampa Sycamore offense, anticipating what McCown can carry over his play with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery a season ago. Interestingly enough, McCown was 24th in red zone completion percentage a season ago with both of those trees, just ahead of the 25th ranked Mike Glennon who had only Jackson and Wright.
The other interesting part is that Mike Glennon performed decently in his rookie season amidst an avalanche of awful offense. Glennon threw two touchdowns in eight of his 13 starts, tied for the most ever by a quarterback in his inaugural season with Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. He was only the sixth quarterback ever drafted outside of the first round to throw for at least 15 touchdown passes to start his career.
[table id=194 /]
Even if Tampa Bay struggles record wise, Glennon may not see time because the organization already has a large sample of his play to go off of and is seemingly not prepared to turn things over to him. Regardless if Glennon gets another shot during the season or McCown holds onto the gig for the entire campaign, the Tampa quarterback is a solid streaming option because they should carry touchdown potential versus favorable opponents.
2014 Fantasy Relevant Projections
Best Option to Crash through their projection without injury: Evans – rookie receivers rarely meet their ADP, but Evans carries significant touchdown potential if his strengths carry over immediately and has no real threat for targets on the outside opposite Jackson.
Biggest Risk to fall through their projection: Martin – what do we really know about Martin as a player? What do we really know about his situation and true usage in this offense?
Best Waiver Wire Option: Seferian-Jenkins – With Tim Wright being shipped off due to the strong camp of ASJ, he may run into significance in stretches when the Tampa Bay passing game is expected to click.
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