Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Preview

  • After signing a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last off-season, former number-one overall draft selection Baker Mayfield surprised many as he started all 17 games and led the team to a 9-8 record, earning the NFC South title. They even upset the defending NFC Champion Eagles in the Wild Card round before being eliminated the following week. 2023 saw Mayfield record career-highs in most major passing statistics, and was re-signed by the Buccaneers to a 3Y/$100M contract extension to remain the Bucs’ starting QB for the foreseeable future. With another off-season under his belt, there is much to be excited about for Mayfield in the 2024/2025 fantasy football season. The Bucs kept their offense mostly intact, and added a lot of depth to most positions on the roster, including intriguing rookie weapons RB Bucky Irving and WR Jalen McMillan. Despite finishing as the overall fantasy QB10 last season, he is currently going as the QB21 in off-season best ball drafts as of early May. He will likely remain an under the radar in fantasy drafts for most, if not all of the off-season, and his floor + ceiling combination in Tampa Bay makes him an extremely appealing option for those that will opt to pass on the position early on in their fantasy football drafts. Assuming the aging weapons on this offense remain as lethal as ever, Mayfield is in prime position for another sneaky potential fantasy QB1 finish this season.

    The running back room in Tampa Bay just got a little more interesting following the results of the 2024 NFL Draft. The team selected RB Bucky Irving in the fourth round to potentially pair him with promising third-year back Rachaad White, who finished as the fantasy RB4 in PPR formats last season, thanks in large part to his versatile play style and pass-catching abilities. Bucky Irving is a smaller back that packs a punch, and he could easily find a way to start the season as the top backup to White. White will be a great value at the RB position in upcoming drafts this off-season, but he should definitely be more impacted by the value of receptions in respective leagues. Bucky Irving is probably not in a position where he should be taken in anything beyond dynasty start-up or rookie drafts, but with a strong off-season with encouraging notes and observations, he could enter handcuff or last round flyer territory in 12-team leagues for re-draft purposes. Despite the passing-game value keeping White’s fantasy floor afloat, the Buccs inversely had a rough year on the ground. The team ranked dead last in the NFL with an average of 3.4 yards per carry, but White did improve as the season went on, at least from bad to average on the ground. Across the first 10 games of the season, White averaged just 3.3 YPC, but in the final seven contests he managed to average 4.1 YPC. With an offensive line that got some solid reinforcements in the off-season, perhaps White can continue to progress as a runner and establish himself as a truly elite ascending RB as he enters his third NFL season.

    Arguably the most intriguing fantasy position the Buccaneers have to offer is their receiving group. Both veterans Mike Evans and Chris Godwin tacked on another year to their respective streaks of seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards, the 10th-straight of Evans’s incredible run since the start of his career, and a respectable third-straight for Godwin. Both receivers were able to adapt an impressive chemistry with Baker Mayfield in their respective roles in this passing game that was the brain child of new Panthers head coach Dave Canales. Evans finished the year with a league-leading 13 touchdowns and finished the year as the PPR WR7, while Godwin finished the year as the WR28. Despite having a consistent floor with the occasional pop-off game, Godwin’s proven that his scoring upside is limited in this Buccs’ offense, as he’s scored just 12 touchdowns in 46 games across the last six seasons. It was recently shared in an interview by wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon that Godwin would return to his role as the team’s full-time slot receiver, a role that Godwin excels in and should result in more receiving volume for the 28-year-old wideout. In 2023 Godwin saw a mark of just 4.9 receptions per game, which was his lowest mark since his sophomore season in 2018. Both receivers aren’t really showing signs of slowing down and with no true target competition added this off-season, fantasy players should feel good about selecting them in their 2024 drafts. Evans will be a top option at the position in the upcoming fantasy football season for all formats, whereas Godwin will be in the late-WR3 range and should be valued a bit more in PPR leagues than standard ones. Beyond the big two WRs in Tampa Bay reside two younger options that will surely have their moments to shine in 2024. 2023 sixth-round selection Trey Palmer had a few big plays in his rookie season, but never really saw much fantasy success. However, it’s still possible he takes a leap after his first full NFL off-season, so we will monitor his name as the off-season progresses. The team appears to be really excited about the addition of 2024 third-round draft choice Jalen McMillan, who profiles as more of a slot receiver but possesses versatility to lineup anywhere needed. In the aforementioned interview with coach McClendon, he gushed over McMillan and potentially using him all over the field. He probably won’t contend for fantasy viability off the gate, but he’s a great dynasty asset and could get some serious action if one of the aging veterans goes down with injury.

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