The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – Bills – Vikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts – Ravens –Redskins – Lions
Team Needs: DL, S, RB
Projected Top Three Picks:
First Round- Taco Charlton, DE Michigan
Second Round- Justin Evans, S Texas A&M
Third Round- Antonio Garcia, OT Troy
It seems as though the Tampa Bay offense is headed in the right direction, with only a small improvement needed here and there. But in this draft, the Bucs must look to the defensive side of the ball and acquire some talent to slow the offenses of the NFC South. In the first-round, the Bucs will select Taco Charlton to add a pass rush element that was lacking from this defense in 2016. The Michigan product is a big and athletic DE who can potentially wreak havoc on the quarterbacks in the division that aren’t the most fleet of foot.
In the second round, safety Justin Evans will be the pick to add a little more playmaking ability to the secondary. Evans is a hard hitter but also has a knack to get to the ball, which will benefit this secondary greatly against teams that are very pass heavy. These two selections could be the type of moves needed to make this defense a little more formidable, but still will be an afterthought in terms of Fantasy. Tampa Bay projects out to be a matchup play for owners who like to stream at the position.
Jameis Winston was tabbed by many to be a sleeper for the 2016 season, and largely he disappointed. He had streaks during the season in which he played at a QB1 level, but other weeks when he could’ve been the reason you came out with a loss. Can he take the next step forward with his progression in 2017? Well, he has the weapons in place to do so, and the offense will be squarely on his shoulders with the running game in limbo. This should be the year that Winston eclipses the 30 TD plateau and crack the Top 12 at the position. Winston will be drafted as a fringe QB1 in drafts towards the middle rounds, but I can see him finishing the season just outside the Top 5.
Mike Evans has emerged as a top tier talent at WR, and that should certainly remain the same for 2017. He garners a ton of targets each week, hauls in a lot of catches, and scores TDs. He is the prototypical WR that you are looking for when drafting your WR1. Evans will come off the board in the second round in virtually all drafts this year. DeSean Jackson comes over from Washington to be the downfield threat for Winston in the passing game. Look for him to be a streaky play as the third fiddle in the passing attack. But a 65 catch, 1,000-yard season will not be too much to ask for, and will put him in the WR3/WR4 range come draft time.
The second option in the passing game is TE Cameron Brate, who emerged big time late in the 2016 season. He developed a rapport with Winston, and it showed on the field with the consistent performances Brate had down the stretch. Brate will be a restricted free agent after this season, so he will have to play as though last year was not a fluke to get paid. Brate is a Top 10 TE and should be drafted as such. Considering where most of the players are drafted at this position, you will not be reaching to grab him once a run starts.
The running game for this team becomes the main question. Doug Martin had a big 2015, got paid and floundered last year, and now finds himself suspended for the beginning of 2017. When he comes back, what player will he be? I think that answer lands him somewhere right in the middle. He will have weeks in which you see him as a RB1, but then others when he isn’t worthy of a roster spot. With the suspension alone, Martin’s value falls tremendously to where he should be looked at as an RB3 currently. But, he could come back and raise that value up to RB2 territory.
Behind Martin is Jacquizz Rodgers, who flashed good games until falling to injury late in the year. Rodgers fits the mold of more of the complementary back, and can’t handle a full workload. Rodgers is worthy of a roster spot during drafts mainly because he will be the Bucs starter during the Martin suspension. That is unless the Bucs make a move in the draft to bring in a rookie back, and there are rumors of the Bucs being interested in the likes of Joe Mixon. But as it stands now, the running game for Tampa Bay is one that I will likely be avoiding.
Passing Offense- 245.4 YPG (16th)
Rushing Offense- 101.0 YPG (24th)
Points Per Game- 22.1 PPG (18th)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Jameis Winston, 243 points
RB- Jacquizz Rodgers, 68 points
WR- Mike Evans, 200 points
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