After a spectacular rookie season, Bucs RB Doug Martin has turned in two seasons that have been plagued by injuries and an alarming lack of production. His career is at a crossroads. No longer a kid, the 26-year-old enters his fourth season and, frankly, the Bucs have no idea if the former first-round pick still has what it takes to be an effective back in this league. It's why they declined a fifth-year option on his contract.
Now the Bucs have little time to figure out Martin's future. Because as much as the focus seems to be around rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs offense (and Winston's season) will be a lot more productive if the Bucs can move the ball on the ground.
"Definitely a key for us," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing."
Martin hasn't come close to his rookie year performance, but you don't have to tell that to fantasy owners who keep taking a chance on him. By now many have likely jumped on board with some of the Bucs other backs like Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims. But, the author feels none of them has the talent of Martin. Martin ranks way down our list at 32. It's possible Jameis Winston and the threat of a passing game can help out the Bucs running game, but right now it's tough to predict how many touches Martin will see a game. The story said Martin spent the offseason in California with a new workout routine that has lowered his weight and body fat and increased his stamina. Right around 220 pounds, Martin knows he is playing to, perhaps, stay with the Bucs and maybe even stay in the league.
Monday, August 3, 2015, 7:23pm
Bucs QB Jameis Winston performed like — well — a rookie NFL quarterback in practice Monday, throwing three interceptions in his first five pass attempts during a team blitz period.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who was pleased to see his defense create turnovers, nonetheless said he wanted to give Winston defensive looks early in training camp that he inevitably will see during the season.
"Our goal is to get Jameis ready," said Smith, who named Winston the Bucs' starting QB when players reported Friday. "We're doing a lot of things that we normally don't do this early, too, to try and give him as many looks as we possibly can. And it was the one blitz period is where he had his most trouble and that's how it should be for a young quarterback.
"We're not inventing defense or anything like that with what we're doing on the other side. Jameis will tell you on some of those plays he just can't make, but it's part of the process of becoming a good quarterback in the league to go through some days like this. Keep in mind there are some scholarship players on the other side that we feel pretty good about. With my glass being half full, I'm pretty fired up about those takeaways we got on the defensive side."
Winston rebounded with a better 11-on-11 period to end practice.
Sunday, August 2, 2015, 9:27am
And despite his problems at Florida State, Winston said he’s learned and is better for it.
“I’ve matured since I was an 18-year-old kid, just getting into mischievous things,”Winston said, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “But now I love this opportunity that I’ve been given. It’s a blessing. The best thing about it is my dream always was to be a professional quarterback, and I’ve achieved that dream.”
Of course, there’s more to his time in Tallahassee than mischief, as he was accused of sexual assault but never charged, was questioned by police for a BB gun fight between players, cited for stealing crab legs and suspended for a game after shouting a vulgar internet phrase on campus.
“On this team, I’m just accepting my role,” Winston said. “We have a lot of veterans. Vincent [Jackson], Gerald [McCoy] — those guys are our leaders. My job right now is just to play quarterback.”
The Bucs said they did their research, and made their deal, and now Winston says he’s simply trying to fit in. So far, all the reviews on Winston have been good, and he’s fit in nicely, however as we all know it's early. Winston is 24th on our QB list but with the talent around him he certainly has a chance to finish higher than that ranking. He's at least shaping up to have some streaming value.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 1:25pm
The Bucs didn’t get a lot of production out of the tight end position last year. But that’s almost certain to change. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter had the tight ends very involved in the passing game during his stops in Atlanta and Jacksonville.
That’s good news for second-year pro Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He had only 21 catches during an injury-filled rookie season. But the Bucs believe Seferian-Jenkins can be a big producer in the passing game.
The team also picked up Tim Wright in the offseason. Wright isn’t much of a blocker, but he has good receiving skills and that could mean some two tight end sets.
Koetter coaxed a 58-700-10 season out of Marcedes Lewis in 2010 to go along with the 176 catches for 1,965 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons with Tony Gonzalez in 2012-2013. Seferian-Jenkins is a breakout candidate in his second season with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator and is a high-end TE2 option heading into drafts.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 8:35am
Tampa Bay has one of the league's best tandems of starting receivers with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Each of them had over 1,000 receiving yards last season, which came despite some shaky quarterback play.
With the arrival of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, Evans and Jackson could put up better numbers than last season. They developed good chemistry with Winston during offseason workouts and they should make life easy for the rookie.
Camp figures to be a wide-open competition for the other roster spots. Veteran Louis Murphy enters with a slight edge over rookies Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay and second-year pro Robert Herron. But all three of the young receivers will have a chance to compete with Murphy for the third receiver spot. Clay has added value because he is expected to be the primary kickoff and punt returner.
Our bet is on Murphy at this point, but he only comes in 84th on our WR list. He got some attention in Weeks 4 and 5 last season when he had back-to-back TDs, but the rest of the way had just one game over 18 yards receiving.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015, 3:11pm
Louis Murphy, who served as the Buccaneers’ No. 3 receiver a year ago, should be the leading candidate heading into training camp, but fifth-round draft pick Kenny Bell, among others, will compete for the spot.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 10:30am
Ronde Barber knows a thing or two about quarterbacks after spending his entire 16-year NFL career trying to intercept them. So what does he think about the Bucs’ new signal-caller, Jameis Winston? Last week, the Buccaneer great sat down with CBS to discuss.
“He gives you the spectacular, but he also gives you the rookie," Barber said, via JoeBucsFan. “But what I will say about (Jameis) is he plays with zero fear. He’ll let go of any ball. He has that confidence. I’ve played against guys that have supreme confidence in themselves and their ability to make plays. You can already see it. He has no fear letting the ball go."
It’s easy to draw the comparison between Winston and Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel. Winston succeeded Manuel as Florida State’s starter and both were first-round picks in the NFL Draft. But according to Barber, they’re nothing alike.
“The guy that preceded him at Florida State, E.J. Manuel, I did a couple of games of Buffalo over these two years that I’ve been working at FOX, and he is the other way,” Barber said. “He’s timid. He holds the ball. He’s scared to deliver it when he needs to. This guy (Winston) is the complete opposite, maybe to a detriment at times; he throws a lot of interceptions."
Winston will likely see many highs and lows this season, as any rookie does. But the good news is he's got two, star WRs to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. The bad news is the offensive line is a question. It may be a tough go at first, but things should start to click with game experience. We rank Winston 24th, which puts him outside QB2 range in ten team leagues, but he could end up being a waiver wire pickup at some point this season with QB2 value and a chance to be a streaming starter.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 9:52am
Bucs WR Mike Evans helped make the 2014 rookie receiver class one of the best in NFL history.
When asked by USA Today's Tom Pelissero recently if there is a competition within the group to be the best, Evans wouldn't constrain it to merely his own draft class.
"I'm just trying to be the best, period," he said.
While Beckham bathed in the spotlight in 2014, especially after his ridiculous one-handed catch on Sunday Night Football, Evans put up his 12-touchdown, 1,051-yard season relatively quietly on a two-win Buccaneers team. You can argue Evans' QB situation was among the worst of that group. But with Jameis Winston under the helm and Evans taking over the "X" receiver role in the Bucs' new offense under coordinator Dirk Koetter, the second-year pass catcher is confident he can push his name further into the national consciousness. We think so too as Evans is ranked eighth among our WRs this season heading into camps. He has an ADP of the third round and we project him for over 10 TDs and 1,200 yards.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 8:22am
Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is a No. 3 or 4 option for the offense but nothing more.
He might’ve been a 1,000-yard receiver as a 25-year-old in Haley’s offense. Miller’s scoring rate is concerning. After 27 touchdowns in his first five years, Miller has 16 in his last five, for an average of 3.2 per year. He surpassed three scores in one of those five seasons.
The Steelers placed a waiver claim for tight end Tim Wright, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. When coupled with reported interest in second-round tight end Maxx Williams during the draft, the Wright claim indicates the franchise is at least exploring tight end alternatives.
The story went on to say Miller isn’t an elite tight end but he’s still very solid. He can put up 600 yards in this offense at age 32. And the truth is the Steelers still need him. He’s a safety valve for QB Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, we predict Miller for 588 yards and just under 3 TDs for 2015. However he's ranked 20th on our list and likely won't get a lot of draft attention in typical leagues. With Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant, that's a strong core of talent to monopolize the red zone touches.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has exceeded everyone's expectations. The first-overall pick arrived in Tampa Bay with plenty of questions, most of them off-field-related. But he's shined through minicamp and OTAs, and even if coach Lovie Smith won't anoint Winston the starter, there's no denying the quarterback's work ethic.
“I thought he would be a certain way, and that's what he's been," Smith said, via the team's website. "All of the positive things you've heard about Jameis is what we've been able to see. He is very smart. He is a gym rat -- football junkie. He does have personality. His glass is half full every day."
By all accounts, Winston has had a great offseason and is fitting in well with the Buccaneers. He is a shoo-in to start immediately, so opportunity is plentiful. He has two established weapons to throw to in receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to make strides in his second season. The situation from a skill position standpoint is very good, though the offensive line isn't. The Bucs did add two offensive linemen in the 2nd round, so there should be improvement up front. Rookie QBs are generally poor fantasy bets, but Winston should be a committee/streaming option in 12-team leagues.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin had his best offseason in three years, and the upswing in his play could not have come at a better time. Charles Sims is good enough to start and he’ll push Martin hard for the bell-cow role. But the Bucs are probably better with Martin in the lead, Sims filling a third-down pass catcher’s role and Bobby Rainey backing up both.
The coaching staff reportedly loves Charles Sims, but OC Dirk Koetter fought to keep Martin with the team during the offseason, and he still sits atop the team's depth chart after a strong offseason. He's going in the 8th or 9th round, so he's a good target for those owners who are looking for potential starters in the later rounds.
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 10:53am
Fred Davis’s tenure in New England didn’t last long.
Davis, the tight end who signed with the Patriots last month, was released by the team today. The Patriots apparently decided after this week’s minicamp that Davis simply didn’t fit on a tight end depth chart featuring star Rob Gronkowski and veterans Michael Hoomanawanui and Scott Chandler.
The Buccaneers’ tight ends, as a group, were highly productive during practice. But Austin Seferian-Jenkins may have been the most active. He worked with several different groups and came on strong for 11-on-11 drills during the final 30 minutes of practice.
New OC Dirk Koetter has a history of featuring the tight end, coaxing a 58-700-10 season out of Marcedes Lewis in 2010 to go along with the 176 catches for 1,965 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons with Tony Gonzalez in 2012-2013. Seferian-Jenkins had an injury-riddled rookie season, but is a breakout candidate in his second season with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator.
Saints TE Josh Hill only needed 14 receptions in order to post his five touchdowns. But while his touchdowns-to-receptions ratio is sure to decrease this year, his opportunity to be on the field in myriad offensive sets figures to increase exponentially.
“It just depends on how much two tight end sets we’re in, how much sub (packages),” Coach Sean Payton said. “I couldn’t say specifically that he is going to have 25 percent more playing time but certainly his playing time will increase.
“We utilize multiple tight end sets and obviously that’ll affect him with his number count (of snaps). He has good position versatility. We think he is a guy that can run and stretch the defense. A lot of it will be by game plan and what we are trying to do.”
Hill is one of our favorite sleepers, but it's a bit worrisome that Payton is talking about two-TE sets when discussing Hill's potential playing time. It doesn't sound like he's a shoo-in to start over Ben Watson. The Saints have been kicking the tires on Jermaine Gresham and put in a waiver bid for Tim Wright.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has made huge strides since he was drafted. He has picked up the playbook well and is comfortable making calls at the line of scrimmage. He has started to build chemistry with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Winston still needs to working on not forcing throws into heavy coverage, but the Bucs are very happy with how he has progressed so far.
Winston is a shoo-in to start immediately, so opportunity is plentiful. He has two established weapons to throw to in receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is expected to make strides in his second season. The situation from a skill position standpoint is very good, though the offensive line isn't. The Bucs did add two offensive linemen in the 2nd round, so there should be improvement up front. Rookie QBs are generally poor fantasy bets, but Winston should be a committee/streaming option in 12-team leagues.
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