The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)
Jameis Winston’s expected ascension into the upper tier of fantasy quarterbacks never quite happened, as a shoulder injury and carelessness with the football marred the fact Winston managed a career high 269.5 passing yards per game (his six 300-yard passing games were one more than he managed in 2014 and 2015 combined). Despite playing in just 13 contests, Winston’s 18 turnovers were more than any other NFL quarterback except DeShone Kizer. Still just 24 years old, Winston could be considered a post-hype sleeper for 2018, though you’ll probably want to platoon him with another signal-caller if you do decide to take the plunge. Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t a world-beater when pressed into duty, though he did show that 2016’s disaster is behind him for now and that he can keep the Buccaneers’ offense afloat should Winston suffer another injury.
Doug Martin’s first two games back after sitting out his first three due to a 2016 PED suspension started off well enough as the 7th-year veteran put up 146 total yards and two scores across Weeks 5 and 6. It was all downhill for Martin from there though, as he averaged just 38.2 total yards per game the rest of the season, and missed two additional games (one due to a team-imposed benching, and one due to a concussion). With Martin having compiled just 827 rushing yards and averaged 2.9 yards-per-carry since signing a five-year $35.75 million contract in the Spring of 2016, the writing is on the wall for Martin’s release. Undrafted second-year man Peyton Barber actually led the team in rushing for the season averaging 67 yards per game over the Buccaneers final five while Martin was phased out of the offense. Barber would appear to have the inside track as the lead guy for 2018, though it’s likely the Bucs bring in some fresh faces to compete for roles. Jacquizz Rodgers totaled 190 yards and a score over three starts in place of Martin at the beginning of the season and was barely seen again the rest of the way. Charles Sims operated as the Bucs’ primary backfield receiving threat and will enter free agency having been unable to build off his 2015 campaign (where he put up 1,090 total yards of offense) in either season since.
Mike Evans barely kept his streak of consecutive 1,000 yard seasons alive and was for the most part, a fantasy disappointment considering he was typically being drafted in the late first/early second round last summer. Evans’ first and only 100-yard game of the season came in Week 16, and he only scored once from Week 8 onward. Though hampered by Jameis Winston’s injuries and ineffectiveness in 2017, Evans remains one of the premier receivers in the NFL and will most likely be discounted in 2018 fantasy drafts based on his depressed statistics this past season. DeSean Jackson joined the Bucs as a free agent last year and suffered career lows in receiving yards-per-game and yards-per-reception while never really appearing to be in sync with Jameis Winston. Going into his age-31 campaign, Jackson is worth no more than WR3 consideration for 2018. Chris Godwin is an intriguing sleeper candidate, as the third-round rookie put up 209 receiving yards and a touchdown on 10 catches in over the Bucs’ final two games of the season (which Jackson missed with an ankle injury) and drew rave reviews during training camp.
Despite the Buccaneers spending a 2017 first-round draft selection on O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate was the Tampa tight end to own over the first half of the season as the rookie got acclimated. From Weeks 2 through 8, Brate averaged 57.9 receiving yards per game and scored four times. Starting in Week 9, Brate’s stats took a nosedive, as he averaged just 20.7 receiving yards and scored twice over the rest of the season. Howard’s final stats were not far behind Brate’s, as the rookie equaled him in receiving touchdowns despite catching nearly half as many passes and Howard’s 16.6 yards per reception led the team. Entering his second NFL season, Howard looks to be the Tampa tight end to own going forward and offers sleeper appeal in 2018 fantasy drafts after many of the top names at the position come off the board.