It is fantasy football draft season, and we here at The Pewter Plank don’t want to leave you fantasy fanatics hanging high and dry. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the top five Bucs players that you want to keep on your draft radar, with a group of honorable mentions that just failed to make the cut. Here we go:
1. Doug Martin, RB (Draft Grade: First/Early Second Round)
It doesn’t matter what you call Doug Martin; whether it be Muscle Hamster or Dougernaught, you can always call him your fantasy team’s starting running back. I believe Doug Martin could have the best season of his very short career in 2014, and it is because of how this offense will use him. With rookie Charles Sims being out until at least midway through the regular season, Martin has a chance to shine in both the running and passing games. That makes Dougie Fresh an even better option in PPR leagues.
Last year’s shoulder injury may have overshadowed some things in your opinion, but let me remind you about Doug Martin: he is a true workhorse running back. The Buccaneers need to establish the run early and often in games to have success, so Martin should be the key to their offense every single week. Draft him in the first or second round, and feel confident starting him almost any week the Bucs take the field in 2014.
2. Vincent Jackson, WR (Draft Grade: Fifth Round)
Giving a fifth round grade to Vincent Jackson is not disrespecting the Bucs’ veteran wideout. It’s just acknowledging that there are some new toys to play with in Tampa’s offense that might take away some of his previously had production. Jackson is a 1,000-yard wide receiver through and through, and believe it or not, those can be had in the middle rounds of a fantasy football draft.
And while he may not be targeted as often as used to be, he’s still going to get the most of them, as the new weapons in Tampa Bay’s arsenal are very young. Jackson could be your WR1 or WR2 for 2014, depending on the size of your league, making him a valuable and reliable asset to your squad.
3. Mike Evans, WR (Draft Grade: Tenth Round)
I took Mike Evans incredibly late in my latest fantasy football draft, and when I did, I felt the rest of the room collectively sigh in disappointment. Whether you are a Bucs fan, or just a fan of football, you know that Evans has the potential to be a star in the NFL. There is no reason to believe that his star won’t be shining immediately come Week One.
Evans gets a tenth round grade only because he is a rookie. Naturally, fantasy football owners tend to be extremely cautious when drafting rookie players. It seems that, too often, we see many rookies with high hopes fizzle out into irrelevancy when we thought they were destined for greatness. That’s the only reason Evans is going to slow in drafts.
If you believe in Mike Evans, target him, and then go get him. This kid has WR1 talent, but for now, store him on your bench, and consider using him in Flex and bye week scenarios. But as soon as he encounters a favorable matchup, take a chance and start him. There’s a chance you may never look back.
4. Buccaneers Defense/Special Teams (Draft Grade: Twelfth Round)
While the Buccaneers aren’t considered to be an elite defense just yet, they have all the potential in the world to become just that. With Gerald McCoy causing havoc up front, Michael Johnson coming around the edges, Lavonte David lurking behind the line, and Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron over the top of a ball-hawking secondary, this defense has the makings of something great.
When Lovie Smith was manning the Chicago Bears, their defense was consistently a top five fantasy football defense. To be safe, we’re going to grade the Buccaneers D a little bit lower than that for now. However, this is a low-risk, high-reward scenario on draft day. While others are attempting to reach for Seattle or San Francisco’s defense in earlier rounds, the Bucs can be had much later, and have the potential to produce better value.
5. Josh McCown, QB (Draft Grade: Final Round/Undrafted)
If this was still the offseason, I would have graded McCown a lot higher. This is a quarterback coming off of a stretch of five games in which he tossed 13 touchdowns and only one interception. That’s some elite play right there.
However, what we’ve seen in training camp and preseason has been anything but impressive. McCown’s fantasy value in 2014 hinges on a few different factors: offensive line production, ability for his receivers to get separation, and how short his leash is. You see, McCown has plenty of weapons at his arsenal with the three guys I mentioned in the top three of this list, and some others like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Louis Murphy. However, he must clean up his sloppiness for him to last in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers have already named Mike Glennon their future starting quarterback. How close that future is could be all up to McCown’s play. He has some fantasy value as a backup, but do not draft Josh McCown and expect him to put up the numbers he did last year through five games. Different team, different situation.
If he gets it together, however, he could put up solid numbers. His one problem, just like his whole career, will be consistency.
Honorable mentions: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE…Bobby Rainey, RB…Brandon Myers, TE…Jeff Demps, RB.