The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t going to be a sad sack team again in 2014. Even if their many changes don’t lead to a playoff trip, they’re at the very worst going to be a competitive team in 2014 and they just might look good doing it, too.
Then they rolled through the 2014 NFL Draft like they owned the place, nailing their first two picks with potential offensive studs.
The NFL might have to take notice of the Bucs as a legit playoff contender, but whether or not that’s a reality or not, fantasy owners surely will have to start paying attention.
To see just how much value could exist in Tampa Bay now, let’s break down the Bucs top fantasy rookies on the offensive side of the ball:
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (Round 1 – Pick 7)
Arguably the top rookie to own in redraft leagues for 2014 and possibly even for Dynasty formats, Evans shoots into Tampa Bay’s number two wide receiver role right away and could be a serious threat for WR2 production in year one. Mike Williams being traded to the Buffalo Bills clearly opens the door for Evans to start as a rookie, while he should benefit greatly from a massive target like Vincent Jackson starting across from him at the number one spot.
There is a ton to like about Evans as a first year player, as well as his surroundings. For one, V-Jax is basically the same type of player and he’s in his prime, coming off of a monster season. Evans will only learn and get better by the day as he plays alongside Jackson, giving him extra upside just by association.
Another aspect is Evans is walking into a situation where he has a competent, capable quarterback in Josh McCown. Specifically, McCown put up 13 touchdowns in spot duty with the Chicago Bears last year, and did so with big bodied receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Little is changing for McCown in Tampa Bay with Evans coming in. He once again has two massive, talented targets, potentially allowing him to feel right at home.
Then there is Evans’ actual skill-set. He’s a physical brute with terrific size and above average speed, while his ball skills and catch radius are going to make him a red-zone and down field nightmare for opposing defenses. He still has some work to put in and he’ll need to get his chemistry down with McCown, but the upside is obvious. Considering him a high-end WR3 to get the ball rolling, but he absolutely could get to WR2 status as a rookie.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (Round 2 – Pick 38)
Evans 2.0 here, in a sense, as ASJ has amazing size and solid speed for the tight end position, potentially giving the Bucs a starting trio of “basketball player” weapons in the passing game. Seferian-Jenkins isn’t locked into a starting role like Evans thanks to some competition at tight end in Brandon Myers and Tim Wright, but he’s clearly the best talent the Bucs have now at the position.
ASJ was a solid steal in the second round and has incredible upside for the very same reasons Evans does. He gives McCown another jump ball guy who can beat linebackers up the field and really break the offense open. He’s a little more raw than Evans and isn’t as elusive in the open field, but he was probably the second best tight end in this draft class based off of sheer athleticism.
Seferian-Jenkins is less likely to make a crazy impact as a rookie, especially considering how many weapons the Bucs have now. Heck, he might not even start right away. For now he’s just a TE2 oozing potential. But if he sneaks into the starting spot, you’ll have to put him on the TE1 radar thanks to his pure talent and physical ability.
Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia (Round 3 – Pick 69)
Talk about adding a luxury at a position. Tampa Bay saw Doug Martin go down last year, yet they still saw great production out of both Mike James and Bobby Rainey. It’s about to be a very crowded backfield in Tampa Bay with yet another solid talent added to the mix in Sims.
While the running back position suddenly appears jammed up, Sims actually might be the perfect addition as a receiving back who can help out as a runner as needed. Doug Martin is the unquestioned #1 back, though, with a lot of competition for extra carries that trickle down. Sims’ best bet at holding any type of real fantasy value as a rookie will be to carve out a third down role. With Martin also excelling in that area, though, it’s not all that likely Sims does a whole lot of damage as a rook. He’s a shifty, athletic back worth keeping tabs on, however.
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming (Round 6 – Pick 185)
Tampa Bay already drafted Evans to lock up their starting lineup at wide receiver, but they grabbed the explosive Herron to round out their passing game. It’s a solid grab in the sixth round, as Herron is an elite athlete with terrific speed and the versatility to help out on returns, as well.
The downside here is that Herron isn’t a very tough or physical player, while he lacks size and rarely goes over the middle of the field with any confidence. He’s going to have a hard time nailing down any kind of a consistent role on offense. His best bet at being active on game days is to nail down work as a return man. From there he can hopefully grow as a receiver and work his way to a slot role in the future. For 2014, he can safely be ignored.
This is the first post from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Premier Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.