From 2013-2014, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only averaged 21.5 touchdown passes per season.
The Buccaneers also struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position during that time, starting Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon, and Josh McCown before drafting Jameis Winston in 2015.Embed from Getty Images
But even with a carousel of quarterbacks, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were still able to be productive in 2014.
Jackson was often injured in 2015 and only played in 10 games, though, which didn’t give us a great idea of what type of chemistry he really had with Winston. Evans recorded more receptions and receiving yards in 2015 with Winston running the offense, but he saw a massive decline in his touchdown totals.
Evans only caught three touchdown passes in 2015.
Of course, 2016 is a new season and we can’t solely rely on numbers from last year to determine the value of Evans, Jackson, and the other receivers on Tampa Bay.
Here’s what to look for out of the receivers on the Buccaneers in the 2016 Fantasy Football season.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Mike Evans
Evans was a ninth-round pick in 2014 Fantasy Football leagues, but he was off the board by Round 3 in 2015 Fantasy Football drafts, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
While his receiving totals didn’t make him elite in 2014, Fantasy players were encouraged by his 12 touchdown receptions. If he could add a few more receptions and more receiving yards to his 2014 totals in 2015, the thinking was, then he would be a very strong Fantasy option.
Evans did finish the 2015 season with 1,206 receiving yards (11th-most in NFL), but as I mentioned, his touchdown totals took a huge hit.
Winston did throw 22 touchdown passes, though, so it wasn’t like that was much different from the amount of touchdowns thrown in 2014.
So what exactly happened?Embed from Getty Images
One thing to keep in mind is that Evans is just 23-years old. Even though he had an impressive rookie campaign, he still needs time to learn, develop, and grow. That was clearly evident in 2015, as he led the NFL in dropped passes.
Another factor that may have contributed to his decreased touchdown totals was the emergence of Charles Sims. After only appearing in eight games in 2014, Sims played a 16-game season and was a massive presence in the passing attack.
Not only did he haul in 51 catches for 561 receiving yards, but he also caught four touchdown passes. Doug Martin also played a full season, and finished 2015 with a 33-271-1 stat line.
In 2014, Bobby Rainey was the only running back on Tampa Bay who caught a touchdown pass, so there were four additional touchdown passes thrown to running backs in 2015 than there was in 2014.
Finally, Winston had his own learning curve as a rookie quarterback that limited his production.
There were actually three games in 2015 where Winston didn’t throw a touchdown pass, and he tied Ryan Fitzpatrick for the third-most interceptions thrown in the league with 15.
Fantasy players generally seem to understand this, though, as Evans is now a second-round pick in 2016 Fantasy Football drafts.
Larry Fitzgerald was a top-1o wide receiver in standard scoring leagues with a 1,215 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches in 2015, so Evans could have been a top-10 receiver in 2015 standard leagues even with fewer touchdowns than his 2014 campaign.
Because of his upside, he’s being drafted correctly in Round 2.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Vincent Jackson
Jackson only played in 10 games last year, but his stats suggest he would only have been on pace for 868.80 receiving yards for a 16-game season.
The 33-year old receiver has had a fairly successful career in Tampa Bay, but his stats are regressing each season.
Jackson is an 11th-round pick on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, so Fantasy players aren’t expecting too much from him this season.Embed from Getty Images
In terms of season long leagues, Jackson hasn’t offered enough production over the past two seasons to be relied on as a regular starter for Fantasy lineups. Where he could be valuable, though, is formats like MFL10s.
In Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers, Jackson finished with a 10-147-1 stat line. Jackson was the highest scoring receiver in that week, with 30.7 Fantasy points.
Will Jackson have a few performances like that in 2016? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t mind taking a shot on him to find out since he’s an 11th-round pick. Also, what happens if Evans is out of the lineup?
Tampa Bay is thin at the receiver position, so Jackson could receive a huge workload if Evans misses any time.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Kenny Bell & Louis Murphy
Bell was drafted n Round 5 of the 2015 NFL Draft, and some Fantasy players thought he would carve out a decent role in Tampa last season.
At his Pro Day, Bell ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, and he was a top performer in the 2015 NFL Combine in the vertical jump and board jump. At 6-foot-1, he offers an interesting mix of size, speed, and athleticism.
Bell missed the entire 2015 season because of a hamstring injury, though, and he still has to battle for a role in 2016.
One of the receivers he will battle is Murphy. The 29-year old receiver has played for a handful of teams since being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in Round 4 of the 2009 NFL Draft, and this is his second year with Tampa Bay.
Although he’s never caught more than 41 passes in a season, Murphy has an edge over Bell because he has NFL experience, as well as year of experience with Tampa Bay under his belt. Last season, Murphy Finished with a 10-198-0 stat line.
Bottom Line: Although he had a down year in terms of touchdowns, Fantasy players believe Mike Evans will bounce back in 2016. While Vincent Jackson may not offer the same type of Fantasy production he did in previous seasons, his ADP makes him an interesting target because of the lack of depth on Tampa Bay’s roster at wide receiver. Kenny Bell or Louis Murphy may see a few of Jameis Winston’s passes each game, but you don’t want to add them to your roster.