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Dr. Roto: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Preview

Tampa Bay went from NFL darling to the league's redheaded stepchild seemingly overnight. Dr. Roto, like most of us, sees talent yet remains very skeptical.
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Daily Dr. Roto — August 31, 2018

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Preview

Outlook: Southwest Floridians are starting to get a little antsy as the Bucs can’t seem to shake the pack in the NFC to make a playoff push. It’s not going to be any easier with QB Jameis Winston out on suspension for the first four weeks of the season. If the Bucs start out 0-4 or 1-3, head coach Dirk Koetter might find himself on the chopping block.

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QB: I think it’s fair to say that Jameis Winston has been a disappointment overall with the Bucs. In his first three seasons, he’s struggled with interceptions and late game failures. That said, Winston is still a highly talented player who could turn the corner at any time. He has looked extremely sharp in training camp thus far and has the respect of his peers. It is a shame that he will miss the first four weeks of the season with a suspension, but perhaps this will give him more perspective to realize how important he is to the team. As of now, I would be just fine drafting Winston in the late rounds of my drafts as a stash and cash type player. He is especially valuable in best ball leagues where his being out won’t necessarily hurt Fantasy owners. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the four games with Winston gone. Fitz has been around the league for years, and unlike most backups, he is fearless when taking on defenses. It is normal to downgrade receivers due to their starting QB not being on the field, but with Fitz at QB that does not seem necessary.

RB: The Bucs drafted Ronald Jones II in the second round of this year’s draft thinking that they were getting someone who could be an impact player. The problem with their thinking was that Jones is inept as a blocker and struggles to catch the ball out of the backfield. The adage is that “If you can’t block you can’t play” and right now Jones is going to lose playing time due to his poor blocking skills. That said, Jones is a dangerous open-field runner who has good vision and enough speed to evade tacklers. I think that if given time, he might emerge in the latter part of the season. I have him projected at about 750 yards rushing right now, but I am willing to change that assessment if he gets more opportunities. Jones' failing as a blocker has opened the door for Peyton Barber to become the Bucs projected starter at RB. Barber is a Koetter favorite as he does everything well, although he doesn’t stand out at any one facet of the game. Barber has solid value in drafts because even if Jones plays, there is no way that Koetter won’t use Barber in some situations. Look for Barber to begin the year getting 65% of the snaps. That number will eventually go down to about 40% as Jones progresses, but that should still allow Barber to have 600-700 yards rushing and 5 or 6 TDs.

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WRMike Evans is without question the top option on the team. He is a dynamic receiver who excels in traffic. Evans is not without his drawbacks. Firstly, he has made some untimely drops on easy catches. Secondly, he’s had two years with double-digit TDs for the Bucs and two years with 3 and 5 TDs. If the Bucs want to be a playoff team, Evans must find the end zone. With Jameis out for the first four games, I am downgrading Evans slightly. I think of him more as a third-round pick right now than second. The Bucs spent a whole lot of money last off-season on signing DeSean Jackson, but that seems to have been a mistake. DJax is more of a best ball player than anything right now, and I can't imagine drafting him. I think the biggest reason why I am down on DJax is that I like Chris Godwin so much. Godwin played so well as a rookie that the team could not keep him out of the starting lineup. I am not sure that Godwin will become a 1000 yard receiver anytime soon, but I think he could have about 60 catches for 800 yards and 6-7 TDs, making him a great pick in the mid to late rounds.

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TE: The Bucs are blessed to have two tight ends that could be starters on most teams. Cameron Brate is the starter in name, mostly because he is one of Jameis Winston’s most trusted receivers. Brate is a huge red zone target, and he is a lock for 5 or 6 TDs. I would certainly not hesitate to draft him in standard leagues. Last year's number one pick, O.J. Howard, is breathing down Brate’s neck for the starting job. Howard is the superior blocker to Brate, and he also has exceptional hands as a receiver. He needs to continue to improve his route running, and when he does so, he will become a perennial Pro Bowl player.

K: I don’t trust Chandler Catanzaro very much. He has a decent leg, but he often misses kicks in critical situations.

D: The defensive line is led by Gerald McCoy and has added Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry in the off-season to create havoc up front. LB Lavonte David is one of the top tacklers in IDP formats. The Bucs defense is worthy of being selected in seasonal leagues but is best used as a DFS cheap option.

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