The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swung a stunner of a trade on Tuesday, getting six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins from the New England Patriots for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick. Unless you’re Tom Brady, you aren’t off-limits in Bill Belichick’s book.
From a fantasy perspective, the biggest winner is Doug Martin. After a huge rookie season, Martin suffered through a dreadful 2013 campaign before a torn labrum ended his year. However, a lot of the blame for Martin’s disappointing sophomore season owes to the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, Tampa Bay was the fifth-worst run-blocking unit in the league last year. The Buccaneers were so desperate for help up front that they were apparently willing to take on Richie Incognito before they were able to pry Mankins away from the Patriots.
With Mankins clearing holes for him up front, Martin has an even better chance to get back to being the player he was in 2012. He was one of the brightest surprises in the league that year, running for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, and catching 49 passes for 472 yards and an additional score. I’m willing to give him a pass on last year, chalking it up to a misguided offense and his injured shoulder. His average draft position has been climbing in the last week, and he’s now up to an early third-round pick. That price is certainly justified, even more so now that he has Mankins in front of him.
As for the passing game in Tampa Bay, this is similarly good news for Josh McCown, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. The Buccaneers’ offensive line got better on Tuesday, meaning the prospects for all three of these players brightened. Having said that, having Mankins up front doesn’t impact their fantasy draft stock all that much. The top 10 at the receiver position is locked in, and Jackson is just outside this group. The addition of Mankins doesn’t vault him over Antonio Brown or Randall Cobb, my No. 9 and 10 receivers. McCown still belongs in the early-to-mid-20s among quarterbacks, while Evans remains in the 40-to-45 range for wide receivers.
With Tim Wright now in New England, Brandon Myers is atop the tight end depth chart in Tampa Bay with Austin Seferian-Jenkins is right behind him, and both remain no better than low-end TE2s in fantasy. Wright, however, finds himself in a better situation. He’s better off in the New England offense and Tom Brady than he was in Tampa Bay with Josh McCown, even though Rob Gronkowski is one of the premier tight ends in the game.
Wright was the 13th-highest scorer among tight ends last year, putting up 54 catches, 571 yards and five touchdowns. First of all, don’t expect Wright to be inhabiting a role similar to Aaron Hernandez's -- Hernandez isn’t the type of tight end you just simply emulate. He was a freakishly talented player in his own right, and you don’t duplicate what he did just by being a tight end and showing up next to Gronkowski.
What he does do, though, is give Brady another reliable pass-catcher. With Gronkowski’s Week 1 status still up in the air, Wright could potentially be worth starting for the first few weeks of the season. Ultimately, this does push up Wright’s value enough to place him on the radar at the endgame of drafts. If you’ve already drafted and are in a deep league, he’s worth adding as a speculative play.