Dec 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Timothy Wright (81) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could make a quick turn around in 2014. Bringing in a competent head coach like Lovie Smith is a great start, as is adding a seasoned veteran like Josh McCown under center.
The Bucs could have stopped with those two additions and made major progress, but they didn’t. Instead, they signed Brandon Myers to compete at the tight end position, traded away the disgruntled Mike Williams and drafted two behemoth receiving weapons to make McCown feel more at home (he threw to massive targets in Chicago in 2013).
On top of that, Tampa Bay also will be getting Doug Martin back at full strength and even added versatile running back Charles Sims to beef up their running back depth chart and help in the passing game.
Each position is crucial to Tampa Bay’s success in 2014, but the most interesting one might be the tight end spot, especially for fantasy purposes.
Not only do the Bucs suddenly have four very different options at the position, but they also have ridiculous talent and depth there, as well.
Usually with so much talent and depth, a position gets shrugged off and fantasy football owners pay less attention to it. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to draft someone with too much competition for touches or targets in an offense.
When you start talking about tight ends, that’s the case even more.
If you’re spending even a middle round pick on a tight end, you want to be sure they have a concrete role. They also have to have natural talent and good surroundings, and a little bit of upside surely doesn’t hurt.
You’re not going to find a cut and dry stud in Tampa Bay at the tight end position right now. It’s too early for that. However, there are a bunch of quality options here on this one team that fantasy owners simply can’t ignore.
Let’s break them all down and see exactly why we need to monitor how this depth chart shakes out for 2014:
Seferian-Jenkins looks like the early favorite to start for the Bucs. He’s easily their most talented option even as a rookie and his upside for 2014 and the long-term is gigantic. He brings an elite size/speed package to the table and is a very solid all-around athlete, as well.
There is a ton of downside here, too, however. ASF has had some injury issues, has a bunch of capable bodies behind him and is an offense that figures to be a run-first unit. Oh, and he’s still a rookie. Rookie tight ends rarely light up the league and while he surely has the talent to defy that logic, it’s not really likely.
He probably leads the pack out of Tampa Bay, but like all of his other tight end brothers playing on the Bucs, you can’t peg him as much more than a high-end TE2. That might even be a bit generous. The Dynasty appeal, however, is a different story. ASF is a top-three round candidate if you’re looking purely at his future, which could be quite bright in just a couple of years.
Myers is a possession receiver who isn’t a great blocker. That’s really about it. The Bucs brought him on to give themselves a minor upgrade at the position when it comes to blocking, and another solid weapon in the passing game. He’s probably best served as a #2 tight end and if he can block only here and there, that’s also probably preferred. The unfortunate reality is that he’s suddenly by far the most experienced and best blocking tight end on this roster. The good news is he’s not the most athletic or most talented. For now, he’s looking at moderate TE2 value, but will surely have to fend of Timothy Wright to even hold onto that going into 2014.
Wright is a one-way tight end. That’s not good for his prospects of seeing a major role on a Lovie Smith team. He also got his initial shot in the league with Greg Schiano last year, who conveniently was his college coach at Rutgers.
There is no denying Wright’s solid package of size and athleticism, or the fact that he proved as a rookie last year that he can play at the highest level as a pure offensive weapon (54 receptions and five touchdowns in 2013). However, he’s not a hulking tight end and he probably won’t ever be an asset in helping with run-blocking.
Smith has said the team has “big plans” for Wright, though, which at least for the moment keeps him on the fantasy radar. After all, this is still a guy that was a serviceable fantasy tight end a year ago. The Bucs know that he can help open up the field and is a mismatch for most opposing linebackers. Still, he needs to fend off Brandon Myers and rookie Seferian-Jenkins. He does have the experience edge on the rook and the talent edge on Myers, though, so we can’t write him off completely.
Ideally he’d just be traded to the Patriots, where he’d be reunited with Schiano (who is a consultant with the Pats) and could slide into Aaron Hernandez’s old “move” role. For now, he’s a moderate TE2 until we know more about his role with the Bucs, though.
We can’t completely forget about Stocker. Well, the Bucs actually did in 2013 (he played just two games and had zero catches), but he’s still a solid talent who can safely catch passes and is also a ready and willing blocker. In his defense, his 2013 season was also cut short mostly due to injury, and less due to stinking up the joint (he was placed on injured reserve in late September).
The good news is he’s healthy and has some experience, and he can also go both ways. The same really can’t be said about any of the other tight ends in Tampa Bay right now. He has a lot of work to do and is probably a strong candidate to get cut, but just two years ago he had some solid sleeper appeal. He’s probably more likely to play somewhere else in 2014, but is still worth keeping tabs on.