Shark Bites

Bucs HC Dirk Koetter called RB Peyton Barber his starter again on Monday. We heard this back in the spring, but it's more meaningful now that we're in mid-August. Koetter went on to say that Barber "could be a three-down player if we asked him to." The 3rd-year back got the start in Thursday's preseason opener, handling the team’s first 6 RB touches. He took 4 carries for 21 yards and a TD. Rookie Ronald Jones, meanwhile, played just 1 snap with the starting offense -- and dropped a pass on it. He finished with just 9 yards and a score on 8 attempts. Koetter called his performance "pretty average." Jones is talented enough to make up ground in this battle, but it's looking like this will be a committee backfield to open the season. Don't forget that RB Charles Sims is also around to handle pass-catching work. Jones is way overvalued at his 5th-round ADP. Barber is a fine pick at his 13th-round price tag.

The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud notes that Bucs RB Ronald Jones has "struggled in pass protection" in camp so far. Stroud adds that the rookie's "hands need to become softer" as a pass catcher. This shouldn't come as a surprise after Jones totaled just 32 receptions across 3 seasons at USC. He lost passing-down work this past year to true freshman RB Stephen Carr. Jones figures to cede that role to Charles Sims in Tampa this season. It's why he's overvalued at his current RB27 ADP in PPR drafts.

The Bucs "plan to start" WR Chris Godwin, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud. "Starter" labels are blurry in an increasingly matchup-based NFL. And most teams run plenty of 3-WR sets. But this is an especially important distinction in Tampa, where the Bucs figure to have 2 TEs (Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard) and 2 WRs on the field a lot of the time. According to Stroud, Godwin is in line to start on the outside opposite Mike Evans. DeSean Jackson has been working in the slot when the Bucs go with 3 WRs. This is the best way for Tampa to get its best 3 wideouts on the field -- but it'd still be a knock to Jackson's fantasy value and a boon to Godwin's. We'll be keeping a close eye on this 1st-team offense in preseason action over the next few weeks. But Godwin, who's going 2-and-a-half rounds later than Jackson in drafts, looks like the better value right now.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times considers Chandler Catanzaro a lock to win the Bucs’ kicker job. Auman points out that the 27-year-old was handed $3.75 million guaranteed in March. Coming off a solid year with the Jets — converting 83.3% of his kicks — Catanzaro is a potential in-season streamer.

The NFL officially announced Bucs QB Jameis Winston's 3-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy. Winston issued a statement and made no mention of appealing the ruling. "I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be," Winston wrote. So he'll miss the first 3 games of the season against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. He'll return for Week 4 before going on a Week 5 bye. It makes Winston undraftable in standard-sized, lineup-setting leagues -- but he still makes sense as a late-round QB2 or QB3 in best ball. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is the favorite to start those first 3 weeks but will likely only be an option in 2-QB leagues. Fitzpatrick should at least be able to keep the Bucs offense on track. Tampa averaged 24.5 points in the 4 games Fitzpatrick saw extensive action in last year.

The NFL is expected to suspend Bucs QB Jameis Winston 3 games for violating its personal conduct policy, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The ban stems from a March 2016 incident when Winston allegedly groped an Uber driver. Charges were never filed against Winston, but the NFL has taken a hard line in these situations since the Ray Rice debacle. Schefter does add that "the league still has not notified Winston of its official decision, and the circumstances surrounding it still could lead to an increase or decrease of the three games." So this doesn't sound officially official yet. But fantasy drafters should be planning for now on Winston missing the first 3 games of the season vs. the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. It's a blow to his best-ball value and makes him tough to draft in standard-sized lineup-setting leagues. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is in line to start while Winston serves his suspension. Fitzpatrick was serviceable in 5 appearances last year, completing 58.9% of his passes with 7 TDs vs. 3 INTs. He's unlikely to be more than a QB2 option -- especially with no teams on bye during those first 3 weeks -- but is at least capable of keeping the Bucs' skill-position guys afloat.

Jeff Cameron of ESPN Radio 97.9 in Tallahassee, Fla., reports that Bucs QB Jameis Winston and his "camp" expect a league suspension over 2016 charges that Winston groped a female Uber driver. Winston's crew reportedly expects "a maximum of 3 games." Guess we'll see about this case, which surrounds an ongoing investigation. Obviously, any missed time would alter Winston's fantasy outlook. Losing the 1st 3 weeks would cost him a trip to New Orleans plus home matchups with Philly and Pittsburgh. Those defenses ranked 5th, 8th and 7th, respectively, in Football Outsiders' pass-D efficiency last season.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin lined up on the outside with the 1st-team offense during Tuesday's minicamp session, according to Pewter Report's Trevor Sikkema. Mike Evans was the other outside WR, with DeSean Jackson in the slot. This is clearly Tampa's most dangerous 3-WR grouping (despite how reliable Adam Humphries has been) and would make Godwin a potential breakout candidate this year. He closed his rookie campaign with 10 catches for 209 yards and a score over the final 2 weeks and has been buzzing all spring. We'll continue to watch how this WR corps shapes up. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, continues to look like 1 of the most undervalued QBs in early fantasy drafts.

The Bucs selected Penn WR Justin Watson in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As you’d expect, Watson dominated at Penn, posting 3 straight 1,000-yard seasons with 33 career TDs. But he proved more than just a product of weak competition by testing as a 90th percentile athlete at 6’2 and 215 pounds. Watson is an intriguing developmental project but won’t make a short-term impact behind Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin.

The Bucs selected USC RB Ronald Jones with the 38th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. He surprisingly goes ahead of LSU’s Derrius Guice. Jones shined as a committee back over his first 2 college seasons, averaging 6.3 yards per carry with 20 TDs on 330 totes. Then he really busted out as the Trojans’ feature ball-carrier last year, ripping off 1,550 yards and 19 TDs on 261 attempts (5.9 YPC). Jones has drawn Jamaal Charles comparisons, but he doesn’t possess quite the same burst or long speed (he ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day). And Jones certainly doesn’t enter the league with Charles’ pass-catching ability. He totaled just 32 catches over the past 3 seasons and lost passing-down work to freshman RB Stephen Carr this past year. This big investment likely means the Bucs see Jones as a potential 3-down back, though. It’s about an ideal a landing spot as he could have hoped for.

9:04pm EDT 4/26/18

After trading back from #7, the Buccaneers spent the 12th pick of the NFL Draft on DT Vita Vea. It looks like a nice pickup for the Tampa Bay defense, but Vea also seems unlikely to make a big IDP impact. He topped out at 6.5 tackles for loss at Washington.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston tweeted Friday, "I personally will make sure we show how valuable [WR DeSean Jackson] is to our team and [the NFL]." The tweet came in response to a Tampa Bay Times story link pondering what the Bucs would do with Jackson after a somewhat disappointing 2017. Offseason is obviously time for dreaming and big talk for all players and teams, but D-Jax ranked 2nd among Bucs in targets last year, averaging 6.4 per game. He endured the worst yards per reception rate of his career, though, and sported his lowest catch rate since 2012. There's plenty of room for 2018 stat improvement, and a better connection would likely help Winston's fantasy numbers as well. With an ADP at the end of Round 11 in MFL10 drafting so far, Jackson looks like a solid best-ball value -- especially when he slips beyond that range.

The Buccaneers on Thursday traded a 3rd-round pick -- plus a swap of late-rounders -- to the Giants for DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The 29-year-old carries a large contract and didn't fit as well in the Giants' new 3-4 base defense. JPP remained a productive pass-rusher last year, though Pro Football Focus graded him lower than former Bucs DE Robert Ayers both overall and in the pass rush. Tampa, of course, recently released Ayers. Pierre-Paul will likely start opposite Vinny Curry, with DE William Gholston still in the mix. The Bucs defense certainly looks more intriguing now, while JPP remains a top-12 D-lineman for IDP drafting.

The Buccaneers signed DE Vinny Curry to a 3-year, $27 million deal. It’s not yet clear how much of that is guaranteed, but it’s clearly starter money. Curry got starter money in his last Eagles contract, too, but never drew a full share of snaps amid Philly’s talented rotation. He’s capable of double-digit sacks but needs to prove he can stand up to full-time duty. Curry figures to take over at right end after Tampa released DE Robert Ayers

The Bucs have signed TE Cameron Brate to a 6-year, $41 million contract. It's a bit surprising that they're willing to invest so much in Brate after spending a 1st-round pick on TE O.J. Howard last spring. Both guys will be big parts of the offense moving forward, but the move is a bit of a hit to Howard's dynasty value. Brate has hauled in 105 of 158 targets (66.5%) for 1,251 yards and 14 TDs over the past 2 seasons. Only 7 TEs have totaled more PPR points during that stretch.

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson has already spent time working with QB Jameis Winston, he said in an interview with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe last week. "We got to get that timing down pat," D-Jax said. "Last year we were missing a couple of big-time hits. This year we can’t afford that." We don't have any official numbers, but Winston missed Jackson on potential big plays multiple times in 2017. What was a 45th-place finish in PPR scoring could have easily been a top-30 season for Jackson. He'll likely be a value in 2018 fantasy drafts -- although the emergence of WR Chris Godwin is a potential concern.

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson (ankle) is inactive for today’s game against the Saints. WR Chris Godwin (ankle) is active and should start opposite Mike Evans. The rookie is a risk/reward WR3 at less than 100%.

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul is active for today's game against Washington. He entered the day questionable with finger and back issues. Pierre-Paul played through the finger injury last week, so the back problem seems like the bigger question mark. That injury adds risk, so weigh JPP against your other IDP options.

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul is questionable for Sunday's game against the Eagles, listed with finger and back injuries. He played through the finger issue in Week 16 but missed practice all this week while dealing with the back problem. We'll update his status Sunday morning.

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson (ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Saints. He was limited in practice all week but appears on track to play. WR Chris Godwin (ankle) is also listed as questionable but only got in a limited practice on Friday. He’s off the fantasy radar if Jackson plays this week.

 
 
 

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