I’m re-energized and ready to dive into preparation for the 2019 fantasy football season. Most of you are preparing for the fantasy baseball season and to be honest so am I. But, there is room in my heart and my brain for both, thanks to slow drafts. Speaking of slow, how about that Super Bowl, amiright? Maybe we could have used Drew Brees in Atlanta because Jared Goff gave the worst quarterback performance that I can remember in a Super Bowl. Not only was the game a snoozer, but Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal at the end of the game cost me a $200 dollar square. Oh, gambling. While we’re on the subject, so much for those touchdown props. I’m convinced that we all have secretly died without realizing it and went to hell and our punishment is to witness Boston sports championships for all of eternity. Sports, you are dumb but I can’t quit you!
Twelve teams played in the NFL playoffs while eight other teams went in a different direction with their head coaching spot. What does this have to do with fantasy football? Everything. There are at least eight offenses that will be changing their philosophies on how they move the ball. Tampa Bay is one of those teams that might have found their guy.
Age and health be damned, I think that Bruce Arians was the perfect hire for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s obviously not the long term answer. If I had a guess, Tampa is hoping to get a few successful years out of Arians while he grooms Byron Leftwich to be the long-term answer in South Florida. In the next few years, Arians provides an aggressive air-raid offensive philosophy that gives Jameis Winston the best remaining chance to salvage his time in Tampa. Combined, Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to finish behind Pat Mahomes as the 2nd most successful fantasy football passing attack in 2018. Todd Monken did a great job of play calling for Tampa’s offense, especially in the first half of the season, but there is obviously room for improvement, especially in the running game. Now that Tampa is under Bruce Arian’s direction, let’s talk about some individual players’ futures.
Bruce Arians came to Tampa in large part because he wants to coach Jameis Winston. This is the best thing that could have happened for Jameis and with the way that the quarterback market is looking for 2019, it’s the best thing for Tampa fans as well. Bruce Arian’s downfield aggression and recognition that Jameis needs to cut down on the interceptions gives me hope for this season. After Jameis was benched due to a 4 interception performance against the Bengals in week 8, he actually became much more efficient from week 11 until the end of the season. In his final 7 games, Jameis had a 13/4 touchdown to interception ratio. I expect Arians looks at those final 7 weeks as a nice building block for Jameis’ career going forward.
Peyton Barber started off pretty slow in 2018, but he somewhat was able to salvage the season with a some double-digit games for his fantasy owners in the second half of the season. For someone who carried the ball 234 times in the 2018 season, 871 yards simply will not do. Some experts believe that running back doesn’t matter, but it DEFINITELY matters when the running back under performs. The thing is, Barber really didn’t even look that bad most of the time. Barber had a lot of big chunk plays called back because of holding calls and he always seemed to find positive yardage. I still think Arians will want Barber to be challenged for the majority of snaps.
I’m very curious how much effort Arians will put into turning things around for Ronald Jones II. Ronald Jones has a history of being an explosive back from his days at USC, but he is not built like David Johnson. There are some things that the Bucs can do to get Jones’ career going. First, they need to make some improvements on the offensive line. Tampa was one of just 9 teams to average less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Another thing that Tampa can do is to actually get creative when they run the ball. If you want to run the ball right up the middle like the Patriots have in the playoffs, you have to make the defense think the passing game needs most of the attention. The most important thing that Arians has to do is make Ronald Jones an effective part of the passing game like he was able to do with David Johnson. With Jones’ big play ability, I think that this is possible. It’s also possible that Ronald Jones II isn’t very high on Bruce Arians’ priority list and Tampa addresses running back through the draft or in free agency where there should be a lot of reasonably priced talent like Tevin Coleman.
Everyone made the same assessment that Mike Evans was quietly having a fantastic season in 2018. If a tree falls in the forest and everyone hears it, yes, it fell. So no, Mike Evans wasn’t a secret. Sure, Evans didn’t catch 100 balls, so maybe that’s why it felt “quiet” to some. The guy had 100 yard games in 50% of the games that he played in 2018. Garbage time is awesome. I value Mike Evans as a 1st round fantasy pick going into the 2019 season. This will be especially obvious if you are one of those “RB’s don’t matter” whack jobs. Eh, maybe they don’t, but I enjoyed my Saquon Barkley shares in 2018. *Sips tea, wink face, shoulder shrugs, cries because I drafted Larry Fitzgerald everywhere.*
Even with the new coaching staff, it sounds like DeSean Jackson still wants out of Tampa. He wants to play for the Rams, but the Rams cant afford his contract and it would be dumb for Tampa to ship him out and take on a bunch of dead money when the player can be useful. Let’s just say DeSean and Tampa stay in business together. I want DeSean Jackson in every best ball league. DeSean is going to win you some weeks but you never know which ones that they will be.
Chris Godwin reached 800 yards and scored 7 touchdowns in his 2nd season with Tampa. His stat line in 2018 looked pretty similar to Robert Woods’ in 2017, except slightly better across the board. If DeSean Jackson doesn’t come back to Tampa in 2019, Chris Godwin could be in line to make his 2019 stat line look like Robert Woods’ stat line. Stay woke, Chris Godwin is a stud.
O.J. Howard had some break out performances in 2018, but unfortunately, an injury cut that season short. Bruce Arians is good at designing plays for tight ends to find space. This is even more reason to value O.J. Howard as a top 5 fantasy tight end going into 2019. We all know that Jameis loves Cameron Brate in the red zone and I don’t expect that to change to much. I can see Brate having some nice value in the later best ball rounds.
Of course, this could all go very, very wrong like it often does for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but this feels different. If things go right, there will be some well oiled pieces for your fantasy football machine.