Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
For Lovie Smith, an 8-24 record after two years in Tampa Bay = FIRED! Smith was a head coach in the NFL for 11 years, he had a winning percentage of .500 and never won a post-season game. Gone now from the NFL, Smith was named head coach for the University of Illinois on March 7, 2016. Dirk Koetter became the Buccaneers’ new head coach on Jan. 15, 2016, after a successful season as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2015. Koetter’s offensive leaderahip led the team to finish 5th in the NFL in total offense. (Impressive considering the Buc’s roster of very young players, including 21-year-old rookie quarterback.)
2016 Team Outlook – The Buccaneers compete in the NFC South division with Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers won the division with a 15-1 record, and went to Super Bowl 50. It probably would have been just fine with the Bucs, if QB Cam Newton had also retired (aka Peyton Manning) after the 2015 season. Cam did not, so Carolina is the favorite team to take the NFC West title in 2016.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –
QB– Florida State QB Jameis Winston was the #1 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay was definitely going to draft one of the two highly coveted college quarterbacks, ( Winston and M Mariota) but Winston’s connection with the state of Florida likely sealed the deal for the Bucs. Rookie quarterbacks seldom have the success that both Winston and M Mariota had in 2015, so hats off to them, and their offensive coordinators. Winston threw for over 4000 yards last years with 28 total touchdowns ( 22 passing, 6 rushing. )
RB– Buccaneers agreed to terms with RB Doug Martin on a five-year, $35.75 million contract, including $15 million guaranteed. For a couple of weeks, free agent Martin was being sought by many NFL teams, but the Bucs wanted him back and got the contract done. On a team with a rookie quarterback, and with an average O-Line, Martin powered his way to the #3 running back for 2015. He racked up almost 1700 total yards and 7 TDs. Teammate running back Charlie Sims may have had the quietest 1000+ yard seasons (rushing and receiving) in the NFL last year. A talented back out of the backfield, Sims had 4 receiving touchdowns. RB Bobby Rainey is a free agent. UPDATE: Bobby Rainey signed a 1-year, $840K deal with NYG.
WRs– Mike Evans had 1208 receiving yards in 2015 and at the same time led the NFL in drops last year. It’s scary how good this guy could be in 2016. If he can fix his butter fingers, if QB Winston can go to the next level as an NFL quarterback, and if the Bucs bring in another receiving threat…Evans will be a top 10 fantasy football wide receiver. WR Vincent Jackson turned 33 this year, and although he is on the decline in his career, he’s still a big, talented receiver ( 6’5″). In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Bucs drafted 6’1″ Nebraska WR Kenny Bell and new HC Coach Dirk Koetter has stated that Bell is “a big part of the Bucs’ future plans.”
TEs– In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bucs used their 2nd draft selection on 6’5″ TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. His rookie season ended with only 221 receiving yards and 2 TDs, playing in 9 games. 2015 was a slight improvement, with 338 receiving yards and 4 TDs, but playing in only 7 games. In 2 seasons, ASJ has spent as much time watching from the sidelines, as on the field. He needs to stay healthy in 2016, to avoid being considered a 2nd round bust for the Bucs. ( Maybe someone needs to remind ASJ that the Bucs have other decent TE options…as in Luke Stocker, Cameron Brate and Brandon Myers.)
K– The Bucs started the preseason out with place kicker competition between Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza. The Week 1 job went to Brindza. 6 missed field goals later by Brindza, and Connor Barth got his job back. Barth will likely get competition again, missing 5 FGs of his own last year.
DEF– Tampa Bay’s defense playing in the NFC South, is like 3 nerds in a room, with one jock. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans can all hang together with defenses that rank near the bottom of the NFL, while Carolina flexed their defenses muscles at #2. Tampa Bay’s defense must rebound with key additions coming from the 2016 NFL Draft.
2015 Tampa Bay Fantasy Surprises – If I am an NFL defense facing Tampa Bay with a rookie quarterback, I am going to stack the box, stop the run, and force the Bucs to beat me through the air. It’s a logical strategy. In 2015, defenses couldn’t stop RB Doug Martin. The #3 running back in the NFL had an incredible 4.87 yard average per carry at season’s end.
2016 Free Agents that Tampa Bay Needs to Address – RB Doug Martin (re-signed), RB Bobby Rainey, DT Jacquies Smith (RFA), DT Henry Melton, CB Sterling Moore, OLB Danny Lansanah (RFA), SS Bradley McDougald (RFA), FS Keith Tandy, DT Tony McDaniel, FS Chris Conte, CB Mike Jenkins
2016 NFL Draft– Taking a look at who the Bucs could lose in free agency, the immediate needs of Tampa Bay are on defense. The Bucs secondary was a joke in 2015, 26th worst vs the pass. Tampa Bay needs corners and a caliber safety. The Bucs also need to find some pass rushers to help out a new secondary. The best thing that Tampa Bay can do for their 2nd year QB J Winston, is get reinforcements for the O-Line. Young talent opposite WR Mike Evans might be added. – TAMPA BAY’S 2015 DRAFT
Did You Know – Buccaneers running back Mike Alstott (1996-2006) played his first two seasons in the NFL with his name misspelled on the back of his jersey, it read “Alsott”
All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS