Pat Yasinkas on the Buccaneers running back situation: The Bucs will have two position battles that I find especially compelling. First, there's running back. Doug Martin has been the starter the past three seasons. But he's coming off a disappointing season and the coaching staff and front office don't seem sold on a player they didn't draft. They did draft Charles Sims last year and the coaches are very high on him. Sims could end up beating out Martin.
Sims averaged 2.8 YPC on 66 carries last year but fared well in the passing game (19 catches for 190 yards). The best running back on the roster last year was Bobby Rainey, but no one seems to think he's a threat for a major role as long as Sims and Martin stay healthy.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter praised the rookie quarterback, citing Jameis Winston's recall and football intelligence during the draft process as reasons he impressed the organization.
Koetter added that coming from a pro-style system at Florida State has prepared Winston to play right away.
"Florida State was probably installing more stuff per day than we do," Koetter said, via ESPN.com. "I've known about (FSU coach) Jimbo Fisher and his style of offense for a long time. They truly do run an NFL-style system. They ask a lot of their guys mentally. Jameis is as well-prepared as most any guy could be right now."
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.
With Dirk Koetter running the offense in 2015, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally will be able to unleash their pace plan.
"A guy that just, you know, he loves, loves fast tempo, loves to get the ball up field," offensive tackle Demar Dotson said of Koetter, via JoeBucsFan.com. "He loves to go a lot of no-huddle. That's going to be something that's more different than what we're used to. So it's going to be a lot of up-tempo stuff. You know, so that's something he loves doing. It's got its ups and downs, but I'm looking forward to being a part of it."
Last season with the Atlanta Falcons, Koetter ran the sixth-fastest offense in the NFL, per Football Outsiders' pace stats.
While both Koetter and Smith want to play fast in 2015, their ability to perform with pace will be dictated by how quickly Jameis Winston picks up the system.
If the team is successful in running an up-tempo offense, it should further boost Winston's fantasy value as a rookie. Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins would also benefit, along with whoever is running the ball in Tampa. But it's one thing to want to play fast and another to successfully do so.
Las Vegas oddsmakers have made running back Melvin Gordon the favorite to with the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The sportsbook Bovada.com lists Gordon's odds at 13 to 2.
All six players were first round picks. We agree that Gordon has the best chance to shine among the running backs, especially since Gurley is coming off of an ACL tear.
Johnny Manziel is fresh out of a 10-week stay in a rehab facility. McCown is a stable veteran with a career completion percentage near 60. This wasn't difficult.
"We just look back to when he was in Chicago, when he had a pretty good supporting cast around him, and he was able to be more than functional. He had a very successful year," Pettine said on WKRK-FM, via the Beacon Journal. "When you build the team right, it minimizes the importance of the quarterback."
The problem here is that while in Chicago, McCown was throwing to Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett and now he'll be targeting Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline and Rob Housler. That's a serious downgrade at all three positions. McCown didn't play particularly well with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans in 2014, there's no reason to believe that he's going to make a passing game go with Bowe, Hartline and Housler.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who signed a two-year, $22 million contract in February, cautioned against expecting the same kind of production we saw during his prime, when at least 90 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns seemed to be the norm.
"No, it's not possible," he said. "And it's only that reason because of the role that I play. It's a different role. I just don't have the opportunities down the field. I'm more inside, I move the chains a lot more.
"In terms of putting up the big numbers, it will be difficult, but in terms of my effectiveness, of providing first downs, being able to make tough catches for my team, I'm still going to be able to do that."
Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season (85-1,296-5.3) and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. If Palmer stays healthy, Fitzgerald should be a great value at his current 9th-round ADP in early PPR drafts.
Do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still believe in running back Doug Martin? Coach Lovie Smith told a gathering of team suite holders on Thursday that "we haven't seen the true Doug Martin yet," per Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune.
Smith went on to praise Tampa's stable of backs -- including Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims -- while noting that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is excited to see what a healthy Martin can accomplish in 2015.
Three years removed from a sizzling rookie campaign that saw him rumble for 1,454 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, Martin has been slowed by shoulder, knee and ankle injuries over the past two seasons. After burning through opponents for 4.6 yards per carry as a rookie, he's logged just 3.6 yards per tote since.
As the story also pointed out, Martin played last season behind a terrible O-line. There's also been a lot of hype surrounding Sims, who could cut into any kind of workload Martin would get this season. However, the story also pointed out it's entirely possible the Bucs look to trade or release Martin before the season.
His two touchdowns were a low for his career. His 63 receptions and 784 yards were the fewest since 2004. But there are reasons to think Fitzgerald can post better statistics in 2015, provided he and quarterback Carson Palmer stay healthy.
In Palmer's last five starts before a season-ending knee injury, Fitzgerald caught 31 passes for 461 yards. It was clear that he and Palmer were starting to click.
"Both guys were very comfortable in the offense," coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings last week.
"He has progressed so much, I don't think there is any doubt they can go down on an option route, and Carson will know where he is going and the ball is on time. Larry is going to make the big, physical catches inside. He's a true mismatch inside."
$11 million per season (Fitzgerald’s re-worked deal) is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. The Cardinals obviously believe that he’s worth keeping around.
After finishing 2-14 with one of the league’s worst offenses, the Buccaneers replaced interim OC Marcus Arroyo with a proven NFL offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, and the one player who could benefit the most is Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is expected to be featured in Tampa Bay’s new offense.
The Bucs are so high on Seferian-Jenkins that he’s expected to be the starter in 2015 and the team did not go out in free agency and add a new tight end. The Bucs re-structured Myers’ contract to reflect the role of a backup tight end, and also re-signed blocking tight end Luke Stocker, but that’s it. The Bucs aren’t expected to address the tight end position in the draft, either, which means it’s up to Seferian-Jenkins to produce in 2015 and live up to his potential after an injury-riddled rookie campaign that ended with him on injured reserve due to an ailing back.
Seferian-Jenkins will be a featured weapon in Koetter’s offense and he should return to the form he showed in Washington when he hauled in 146 catches for 1,840 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons for the Huskies. While Koetter has the reputation for developing pocket passers everywhere he’s gone, he has also made stars out of tight ends.
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.
Bowe should start opposite Brian Hartline with Andrew Hawkins manning the slot. He hasn't finished in the top 40 since 2011, and while his QB play in Kansas City wasn't great, it's not like Josh McCown is an upgrade over Alex Smith. We're expecting more disappointing numbers from Bowe in 2015.
As PFT reported earlier, the Cardinals have gained nearly $13 million in cap space thanks to a new deal with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, guaranteeing that one of the franchise’s icons will remain in the fold after months of uncertainty because of Fitzgerald’s salary and cap hit for the 2015 season.
PFT has learned a bit more about the deal via a league source. Fitzgerald’s old deal ran through the 2018 season and was set to pay him a non-guaranteed $16.5 million in 2015 while counting $23.6 million against the cap. He was also set to make a non-guaranteed $15 million salary.
That deal has been replaced by one that guarantees Fitzgerald $11 million per year over the next two seasons.
$11 million per season is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. Assuming Palmer is good to go, Fitzgerald could be a nice middle round value heading into 2015 fantasy drafts.
It appears that the Bucs are planning to draft a quarterback with the top overall pick.
Dirk Koetter, 55, agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Buccaneers with an option in 2017. He interviewed for the job last week and brings familiarity with the NFC South. Before coming to Atlanta, he spent five seasons as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, following stints as head coach at Boise State and Arizona State.
During his three seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons ranked eighth, 14th and eighth in total offense. The Falcons' Matt Ryan posted the three highest passing yardage seasons in franchise history under Koetter, as well as three of the four highest completion percentage seasons.
That's important because the Bucs have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and are in position to select either Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon junior Marcus Mariota, who has yet to declare.
Koetter runs a pro-style offense that is heavy on the passing side, which could be a fit for Winston. But he also has a strong connection on the Mariota side — Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was Koetter's quarterbacks coach for eight years, at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-05).
This looks like a good hire for whomever the Bucs tap to be quarterback in 2015.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:04am
Marques Colston might be back with the New Orleans Saints next year. But just in case he isn’t, the Saints cherished his game-winning touchdown in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for all it was worth.
Colston was awarded a game ball after turning a short pass into a 36-yard TD with 1:57 remaining. And the usually-stoic veteran even shed a tear, fellow receiver Robert Meachem told The Advocate.
“You couldn’t have scripted a better ending,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who acknowledged that assistant coach Joe Vitt had made the team aware of certain milestones they could reach in the season finale -- including the fact that Brees and Colston could move into fifth place in NFL history with 68 touchdowns as a duo (they broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne).
Brees, Meachem and receiver Kenny Stills all insisted that they expect Colston to be back in 2014, even though his future is in doubt since he’s due $7 million in salary and bonuses. But the emotion they all expressed made it clear that they’re prepared for the possibility Colston, 31, might be done after nine seasons with the Saints. Colston could take a pay cut to stay, the story pointed out, but Saints may want to move on with a healthy Brandin Cooks back next year to go along with Stills, who emerged this year after injuries slowed his start to 2014.
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