The Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerged from the NFL Draft and free agency as one of the most improved offenses in the NFL. Many hoped Jameis Winston would break out last season. He passed for 4,090 yards with 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
This year, he will most likely be drafted as a Top 10 quarterback in the majority of Fantasy Football leagues. Winston will have Mike Evans back, but receiver DeSean Jackson and rookie tight end O.J. Howard were added to bolster the attack. This will lead to Evans seeing much less double coverage.
Howard might have been a surprise pick to many since tight end wasn't a major need. After all, Cameron Brate had a breakout season of his own in 2016, tying for the lead in touchdowns at the tight end position. Brate had 57 catches for 660 yards in 15 games.
Most experts projected Howard as a Top 10 overall talent in the draft. The Buccaneers were really high on him and didn't expect Howard to be available at 19. There wasn't much debate once Howard was sitting there. The Buccaneers want to run a two-tight end set and now they can with Howard on board.
Brate isn't the best blocker but Howard is an excellent blocker. Howard is 6-foot-6, 251 pounds and a great athlete. He has speed, evidenced by his 4.51-seconds 40-yard dash. Although he wasn't used much in the passing game at Alabama, he can be a force. That's another red zone threat for Winston.
Winston likes throwing to the tight end as we saw last season with Brate and going back to his days at Florida State when he connected with tight end Nick O'Leary for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in two seasons.
Another objective for the Buccaneers was adding more speed to the offense. Jackson accomplishes that as does Howard. With Evans getting so much attention, Jackson is going to open things up and stretch the defense, an element that was lacking last season.
The Buccaneers didn't have a lot of weapons on offense in 2016 and the offensive line wasn't a great pass blocking unit yet Winston still finished seventh in passing touchdowns. Jameis is one of the best at throwing the deep ball and that was without Jackson, who was Top 5 in yards per attempt the last two seasons. That connection should be electric. The Buccaneers also added speed with Penn State receiver Chris Godwin.
The Bucs didn't do much with the running backs. Doug Martin will miss the first three games of the season due to a suspension for violating the league's drug policy. All reports coming from mini camp are saying Martin looks as good as ever. The Buccaneers passed on Dalvin Cook to take Howard and took Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber are also in the backfield. Sims is in a contact year and had injuries last season. Rodgers filled in well when called upon last season and will likely be the starter the first few weeks. McNichols could emerge as a pass-catching back. The Buccaneers thought he would be drafted higher if he didn't play with injury last season and have surgery for a torn labrum in his shoulder after the Combine.
Tampa Bay improved their offense and provided some more weapons and speed for Winston. This will be a fun offense to watch and one you want to invest in this coming Fantasy Football season.
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