Slot machines are the most popular games for patrons in any casino. They are also the most profitable game for the casino itself. Last year in just the month of May, the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, reported a $51,279,341 profit from slot machines alone. All the casino does is sit back, relax, and collect the money on a daily basis. Which brings us to this year’s version of a fantasy football slot machine, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After a fantastic NFL Draft which saw Tampa Bay improve at almost every offensive position, the Pewter Pirates are now ready to provide fantasy owners a myriad of choices to draft on their teams. Let’s take a closer look at fantasy value for each of the Buccaneers offensive positions.
Quarterback: Jameis Winston
The 6-4 231-pound Florida State phenomenon is on the verge of a breakout season in 2017. Let’s examine Jameis Winston’s opportunity and productivity metrics from last season:
Winston ranked third among all quarterbacks in Deep Ball Attempts (86) and Air Yards (2807.5). He also finished seventh among all quarterbacks with 28 passing touchdowns. Winston did all of this with a below average receiving core and a poor pass blocking offensive line (22nd).
To address the receiving concerns, Tampa Bay signed veteran free agent DeSean Jackson, who has finished in top five each of the last two seasons in Yards Per Target. Considering Winston ranked third in Deep Ball Attempts without Jackson, where will he rank with one of the premier deep ball targets in the NFL on the field?
Tampa Bay also used the draft to secure more weapons for Jameis Winston. Speedy wide receiver Chris Godwin of Penn State, and gifted athlete O.J. Howard of Alabama should make an immediate impact in the passing game. Both should expect to see favorable matchups with All Pro wide receiver Mike Evans drawing the majority of defensive attention. And just in case Winston needed one more target, the Buccaneers return tight end Cameron Brate, who tied for the positional league lead in touchdowns catches with eight.
Quarterback Fantasy Outlook
Jameis Winston finished last season as the 18th most productive fantasy quarterback with 17.1 fantasy points per game. Most experts predicted a huge breakout year in 2016, but they were simply a year too early. Winston has quickly risen to the sixth quarterback drafted in MFL10s, currently going in the sixth round. That is strong draft value for a 23 year old quarterback with a ton of shiny new targets at his disposal.
Running Backs: Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Doug Martin & Jeremy McNichols
No individual standout here, but a ton of potential. Each Tampa Bay veteran has at some point produced at a high level, and then there’s the tantilizing rookie Jeremy McNichols. Let’s start with the returning players:
The third down pass-catching back suffered through an injury-plagued season that many thought would be his breakout year. In 2015, despite only having a 38.8 percent Snap Share, Charles Sims ranked seventh at the position in receptions (51) and fourth in receiving yards (561). With great Workout Metrics and an ideal opportunity, many saw Sims as a possible RB1 in PPR leagues.However, injuries derailed the 26 year old satellite back, but he returns fully healthy as a dangerous weapon out of the backfield for Jameis Winston this season.
The “Quizz Show” filled in admirably when Doug Martin was injured, and provided Tampa Bay with three consecutive top 18 running back performances at midseason. With only an 84.6 (10th percentile) Speed Score and a 112.6 (19th percentile) Burst Score, Jacquizz Rodgers does not project as a long term fantasy contributor this season. He may start the first few weeks of the season because of Doug Martin’s three game suspension, but Rodgers is not a fantasy asset to own in any format.
This is a make or break year for Doug Martin. The 28 year old running back has produced just one quality season in the last four years, and now is battling substance abuse issues. Martin has an RB2 and RB3 season on his resume, but has been widely inconsistent. His $5.7 million salary guarantee for 2017 is now voided because of the suspension. Martin has even been in the news recently for a car accident:
— NFL (@NFL) May 4, 2017
Despite all of this, he remains the first Tampa Bay running back currently drafted (42nd overall) in MFL10 leagues. Many people are rooting for him, but Doug Martin is not someone who should be drafted in fantasy leagues this season.
Which leaves us with someone who should absolutely be drafted, rookie running back Jeremy McNichols. The running back position was incredibly deep in the 2017 draft, and the Buccaneers scored one of the steals of the draft when they selected the Boise State product in the fifth round.
The 5-9, 214-pound reception magnet brings a 10.9-percent (76th percentile) College Target Share and a 41.4-percent (89th percentile) College Dominator Rating to the party. The latter means Jeremy McNichols accounted for over forty percent of Boise State’s total team yards and touchdowns over his career. He is only 21 years old and runs a 4.49 40-yard dash time while maintaining a 31.6 (82nd percentile) BMI. While currently listed four on the Tampa Bay depth chart, McNichols will have an immediate impact this season. On a recent edition of the Sonic Truth Podcast, he clearly displayed the mindset of someone who expects to have a big impact in his first season:
With an current ADP of 184.08, Jeremy McNichols is getting currently getting drafted behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims. If you pull the fantasy football slot machine and Jeremy McNichols pops up, you will enjoying acquiring one of the fantasy steals of the 2017 season.
Running Back Fantasy Outlook
This is an important but tricky fantasy position to handicap. No Tampa Bay running back possesses an ADP in the top-40 positionally, which means the optimum draft strategy is to target the players with the largest upside. That eliminates Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers.
Jeremy McNichols is a great late round selection that could be Tampa Bay’s starting running back in September. The limited draft capital investment makes him ideal in redraft, and his long term potential makes him a superb dynasty target. Charles Sims is now full healthy and could regain his 2015 form as a superior pass catching option as well. Both are potential high ceiling fantasy running back targets in 2017.
Wide Receivers: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson & Chris Godwin
It all starts with one of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL, fourth-year pro Mike Evans.
He established himself as one of the best all around fantasy wide receivers last season with 96 receptions, 1,321 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Mike Evans brings a 115.7 (94th percentile) Height-Adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) and a 10.27 (92nd percentile) Catch Radius. Evans is a dynamic wide receiver who is still only 23 years old.
What made his production even more impressive, was the lack of a legitimate second option in the passing game all season. Here are the other wide receiver stats from Tampa Bay in 2016:
Clearly, Tampa Bay is in desperate need of wide receiver help. Enter veteran field stretcher DeSean Jackson who brings a legitimate profile to the opposite side of the field.
DeSean Jackson’s blazing speed (4.37 40-Yard Dash) and consistently high Production Premium, make him the ideal field stretcher in an offense that looks to attack defenses vertically. His 11.01 (70th percentile) Agility Score is an indicator of his short area quickness and ability to avoid tackles and compile yards before contact.
Chris God + Win
Tampa Bay then used the draft to acquire another speed receiver in Penn State’s Chris Godwin.
His Workout Metrics are above average across the board, highlighted by his 4.42 (89th percentile) 40-yard dash time and his 109.5 (89th percentile) Speed Score. Chris Godwin‘s SPARQ-x Score of 128.3 (95th percentile) proves he is an athletic and versatile weapon that can make plays in a variety of situations.
Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook
Tampa Bay’s wide receiver position got remarkably better this off-season. Mike Evans is a top three fantasy wide receiver, but DeSean Jackson and rookie Chris Godwin should provide quality production throughout the season. Evans is a first round fantasy draft pick, with Jackson a huge value at his current 107.5 ADP. Godwin is not currently being drafted but is a great late round selection in redraft, especially if Jackson is injured. In dynasty leagues, Godwin is a superb target as a young, athletic receiver tethered to a young superstar quarterback in Jameis Winston.
Tight Ends: Cameron Brate & O.J. Howard
No tight end was more efficient in 2016 than Cameron Brate. He was No. 15 among all tight ends with just 82 targets, but finished tied for first at the position with eight touchdowns. A 10 to one target to touchdown ratio that only Allen Hurns (circa 2015) could compare to. Brate ranked third in Red Zone targets and will remain in that reliable role, especially early in the season.
Tampa Bay also used the draft to acquire the 6-6, 251-pound tight end from Alabama, O.J. Howard.
He rates in the 97th percentile or better in 40-Yard Dash, Speed Score, and Agility Score. O.J. Howard’s best comparable player is current All Pro Greg Olsen, and his 33 3/4-inch (74th percentile) arm length will make him a legit red zone target when called upon. Because of the system at Alabama, scouts have not seen just how productive Howard can be on the football field. In his current situation however, Tampa Bay fans will enjoy watching this matchup nightmare operate in the middle of the field.
Tight End Fantasy Outlook
Cameron Brate is currently the 16th tight end off the board in MFL10 drafts, which is surprisingly good value. At the beginning of the season, given the offensive firepower Tampa Bay’s offense, Brate could produce multiple TE1 weeks. Eventually, O.J. Howard will take over, and should end the season as a legit TE1 option. Many NFL teams are struggling to find consistent tight end play, but the Buccaneers are fortunate to have two legitimate dangerous options in the passing game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are this year’s fantasy football version of a slot machine. They have athletically gifted and efficient offensive weapons, all at the disposal of a young franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston. The receiving core, led by Mike Evans, is now deep and explosive. First year rookies like O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin are in positions to make immediate impacts on offense. Just like in the casinos, all fantasy football owners have to do is select a couple Tampa Bay players, sit back, and collect the fantasy points on a weekly basis.