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Are you ready to trust a rookie quarterback? There are plenty of weapons here, and new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is coming off some very fantasy friendly seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Jameis Winston will have big targets both down the field and in the red zone with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and a friendly fantasy schedule with two games against Atlanta and New Orleans and matchups against the AFC South. It just all depends on Winston’s development.
Bye Week: 6
Rookie Impacts: Jameis Winston
Given the weapons around him, Winston has a pretty good chance to succeed right from the jump. While a better offensive line and a stronger running game would help in real football, in fantasy, the shootouts the Buccaneers will likely get into will help his stock more than anything. There will be lots of mistakes, and it’s important to know that he’s not a runner, but Winston has the accuracy and the opportunity to be a legitimate QB2 this season.
Can you trust him? After a killer rookie season in 2012, Martin took massive steps backwards in each of his last two seasons thanks to injuries and ineffective running. Word out of training camp is that Martin is leaner and quicker this year, but there are questions about whether he can stay healthy for a full 16 games and whether or not he’ll be allowed to function as a true bell cow again. After Charles Sims averaged 2.8 YPC last year, you’d think Martin will get one last chance. He’s a high-risk, high-reward pick.
Running back: Charles Sims
Drafting Sims is a bet against Martin, which isn’t the worst idea. Although Sims was highly unproductive in his rookie campaign, he may yet get another shot at lead back or share carries with Martin. Even with a rookie under center, the Bucs should be a pass-first offense and Sims could have some value as a receiver. There are more exciting handcuffs, but Sims has a great chance at getting significant carries.
Wide receiver: Mike Evans
With a truly awful quarterback situation, Evans still managed to nab 12 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. At 6-foot-5, Evans will quickly become Jameis Winston’s favorite target, especially around the goalline. There will still be struggles playing with a rookie QB, and maybe some regression in the touchdown department, but the Bucs should be down and throwing quite a bit, with Evans receiving most of the targets. He’s a clear WR1 with the potential for much more if Winston is legit.
Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson
Jackson only recording two touchdowns last year feels like an anomaly, even if Evans is going to understandably soak up most of those looks. Jackson still managed to top 1,000 yards for the third straight year in Tampa, and with an improved QB situation, he should be poised for a better year in just about every category. Don’t let him fall too far in your drafts.
Tight end: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
Rookie tight ends rarely contribute right away, so it’s important not to write Sefarian-Jenkins off too early. Although he’s clearly behind Evans and Jackson in the receiving pecking order, the second-year player has been getting talked up in camp as a huge weapon in the passing game. With a current 14th-round ADP, he’s a potential sleeper in an offense that could end up being pretty explosive.
Placekicker: Patrick Murray
Murray is a viable fantasy option, as he connected on five field goals from 50-plus yards last year and should be involved in a quite a few high-scoring games.
Team Defense (D/ST):
At least early on, the Bucs D could surprise some people. The pass rush should improve a bit, and Tampa Bay gets to play the Titans, Texans and Jags in three of the first five weeks. Don’t be afraid to draft them and move on once the schedule gets a little rougher.