2017 Projections: Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In this series, I use an internal version of the Projection Machine to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams.
The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds on team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output. I will use staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RotoViz team. All 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers projections are based on PPR scoring.
The Buccaneers won nine games in 2016 but Pythagorean win percentage and Vegas expect seven or eight in the coming season. The team employs a balanced attack and operates at a fast pace. With a consistent scoring margin, the Projection Machine forecasts 550 passing and 443 rushing attempts.
|Scoring Margin||Pass Tendency||Pace Tendency|
|League 75th percentile||1.00||0.02||0.85|
|League 50th percentile||-1.25||-0.01||-0.85|
|League 25th percentile||-3.75||-0.04||-2.70|
|Buccaneers 2017 (Projection)||-2.5||-0.01||1.25|
Use Rodgers to Bridge the Early Season Gap
Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season and Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to be the starter in his absence. In 2015 and 2016, Martin saw 18 attempts per game, placing him in the top 10 of RB attempts in both seasons. Upon his return, the volume will be there for him to finish the season at an RB2 pace. Rodgers will make a solid fill-in option in his three weeks as a starter and could be useful for Zero RB drafters. Charles Sims will be the change of pace and third down back, continuing to receive work after Martin’s return.
Martin is projected with a rushing share of 44 percent and five percent of targets. His projection assumes modest efficiency for an RB1. Rodgers will shoulder 22 percent of rushing attempts and five percent of targets. Sims will see 24 percent of carries but can expect 10 percent of targets. Both of Martin’s backups are projected with average efficiency.
The staff average projects Martin with 160 points. With a standard deviation of 21, per the RotoViz Draft Lab, he’s expected to score between 139 and 182 fantasy points. Some writers projected Rodgers as the team’s RB2 and others Sims. As a result, their averages are less meaningful than the presented projections.
DeSean Won’t Win You Your League
DeSean Jackson landing in Tampa Bay created a lot of excitement. He’s known to make his quarterbacks better and could open up the field, drawing coverage away from Mike Evans. In 2016, Jameis Winston was third in the league in deep ball attempts, throwing for 86 on the season per PlayerProfiler.1 As Jackson is a big play threat, it would seem likely that he’s primed to have a major fantasy season. On the contrary, the RotoViz staff expects his contributions will be more meaningful to the Buccaneers than his fantasy owners.
Evans was the most targeted wide receiver in the league last season (173) with 30 percent of Buccaneer’s targets. Playing alongside Jackson, his target share is expected to decrease to 27 percent. This could reduce his overall volume by 25 or more targets, but he still projects as a top-six WR. His projection includes a 75th percentile touchdown rate which will be a key determinant in his 2017 outcome. Game script could play a role as well. In the last two seasons, Evans averaged 2.3 more points per game in Tampa Bay losses. Of course, this would only become a major factor if the Buccaneers were to finish well above five hundred.
Jackson will be the team’s second receiving option, earning 17 percent of targets with high yards reception. This workload will likely keep him under 100 targets on the season. As a result, he’ll need to be extremely efficient to finish better than a WR3.
Chris Goodwin is projected with just nine percent of targets and doesn’t project as fantasy relevant.
With an average projection of 267 points and standard deviation of 18, Evans is expected to score between 249 and 285 fantasy points. While another top-three finish is possible, the staff places Evans behind Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham.
Jackson is pegged for 183 points and a standard deviation of 14. Goodwin is expected to accrue 71 points with a standard deviation of 24.
A Division of Targets
Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard will play a role in the Buccaneers offense. With a target share of 11 percent, Brate is expected to out-target the rookie by 15 or so looks. Both players are projected with modest efficiency, but the division of labor will prevent either from being a significant fantasy contributor. If one were to steal the majority of Tampa Bay tight end targets, they could finish the season with around 140 fantasy points which would make them a fringe starter. Having said that, the majority of RotoViz writers expect the target share to be split, skewing toward Brate.
The staff average projects Brate with 106 fantasy points and a standard deviation of 47. This means that some writers expect Howard to play an insignificant role, whereas, others project him with the lion’s share of targets. As a result, it’s a prudent decision to avoid drafting either TE as anything more than a late-round dart.
Winston Has a Low Weekly Ceiling
Jameis Winston is being drafted as early as QB7. Given the success of Evans in 2016 and the excitement generated by the Jackson signing, this comes as no surprise. Should he be drafted that early? The RotoViz staff doesn’t think so and views him as a fringe starter.
Winston finished the 2016 season as QB16, so a major step forward would be needed to justify his ADP.2 Though he possesses one of the best floors in the league, he rarely posts high point performances. In fact, he’s gone for 25 or more points only three times in his career and finished as a weekly starter in only 34 percent of games played. While Winston could certainly take a step forward in 2017, it will need to be a huge step to make him a weekly starter.3
Winston’s average projection assumes 271 fantasy points with a standard deviation of 20.