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.
“What you’re not seeing that makes me look a little slimmer is my body fat,” Martin said. “I got my body fat down by like four or five percent so I’m in great shape. I feel good and I’m ready to go.”
Martin could have a few new faces blocking for him after the Bucs’ selected tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet in this year’s draft. Although the Bucs have only gone through non-contact OTA practices, he can already see improvement along the offensive line.
“They’re doing pretty good,” Martin said. “There’s more communication between the line. We’re more gelled than we were last year. I feel like it’s going to be a good season for us and the line’s doing a good job proving that… or (are) going to prove that.”
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. He's going in the 9th round, so he's a good target for those owners who are looking for potential starters in the later rounds.
Wright ends up back in Tampa, where he'll compete for snaps behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Joe Kania of Buccaneers.com:
Last week it was Doug Martin that caught our eye. This week, a different running back stood out. While Martin and Charles Sims were used often in the screen game, Bobby Rainey ran a few of the deeper routes out of the backfield. Rainey, Martin and Sims are all battling to be the Bucs’ No. 1 running back, and Rainey’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is helping his case.
Rainey was by far the best Bucs running back last season, averaging 4.3 YPC, while Martin (3.7 YPC) and Sims (2.8) struggled mightily. Rainey also led the backs in receptions with 33 for 315 yards and a touchdown. He hasn't been discussed much this preseason as the focus has been on Martin and Sims, but he's a player to have on speed dial if either player suffers an injury.
Doug Martin looked smooth during Thursday’s session, making sharp cuts and catching out of the backfield during one-on-one drills against linebackers. The Boise State product was practicing with first-team offense and, according to Lovie Smith, he’ll stay with that group.
“He’s on the first team like he has always been,” Smith said. “He’s one of our guys, he’s our running back. He’s showing up and he is getting good work. I think it is just as simple as that.”
The team is supposedly very high on Charles Sims, but it sounds as if it's time to pump the brakes a bit. Neither player is a great fantasy option, though with the additions that the Bucs made to the offensive line, the running game should be better in 2015.
Dirk Koetter was signed as the Bucs’ OC in the offseason after serving the same role in Atlanta a year ago.
“He’s a smooth guy,” Mike Evans said after Thursday’s OTA practice. “He knows what he is doing. If you look at the Falcons’ receivers last year they had some of the best stats. He gets his receivers the ball and on this team we have some really good playmakers at the receiver position. I like the way he gets the receivers the ball, so hopefully we’ll have a great year.”
Vincent Jackson feels similarly. He’s been in a few different systems since entering the league in 2005. But this system will spread the ball all around the field and utilize Jackson in several different ways, something he’s excited about.
“Obviously the way I’ve worked in the past was being very dynamic where they can play me in multiple places and Dirk (Koetter) is having fun with that and he’s putting me in a lot of different areas. It’s fun to play inside, outside, stretch the field, cross the field, and that’s what’s good about this offensive system is that we’re going to put the ball all over the place.”
Evans finished as the #11 receiver in standard formats and #13 in PPR. He should enjoy a quarterback upgrade this year and should continue to develop as a receiver. Expect more of the same. After finishing as a low-end WR3, Jackson is a bounce back candidate given the upgrades the team made at quarterback and offensive coordinator.
It's nice to hear that the hamstring tweak wasn't serious. Evans finished as the #11 receiver in standard formats and #13 in PPR. He should enjoy a quarterback upgrade this year and should continue to develop as a receiver. Expect more of the same.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans exited in the waning stages of practice with an apparent right hamstring injury, but coach Lovie Smith didn't seem fazed. The second-year player injured his left hamstring during the first offseason practice last year and missed an extended period of summer work.
"He tweaked it a little bit; he'll be fine," Smith said.
Evans finished as the #11 receiver in standard formats and #13 in PPR. He should enjoy a quarterback upgrade this year and should continue to develop as a receiver. Expect more of the same from Evans, though we'd like him to be able to practice to develop a strong rapport with new QB Jameis Winston.
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