Despite making a splash last offseason and receiving plenty of preseason hype the Tampa Bay Buccaneers limped to a 5-11 record and a fourth-place finish in the NFC South in 2017.
The campaign started with Hurricane Irma forcing a Week 1 bye and soon the Bucs’ season turned into a disaster of its own. They started 2-1 with wins against the Bears and Giants before dropping five straight contests in Weeks 5-9 and enduing another five-game skid later in the year before finally winning in Week 17 against the Saints.
Dirk Koetter (14-18 as head coach) was given a vote of confidence and is set to return for a third season. Once a highly touted offensive mind, Koetter has been unable to establish a steady running attack and has seen young quarterback Jameis Winston take a step back. There will be plenty of things to address on this side of the ball this offseason.
Three additions we want to see for fantasy
Carlos Hyde, RB: Not a single Tampa Bay running back finished as a top-50 PPR option in 2017. It’s time to start over at running back. A fresh start could also benefit Hyde, who quietly finished as RB8 in that format. Hyde would be a great early-down option for the Bucs. He has averaged at least 2.8 yards after contact per carry in every season as a pro and scored 17 times over his past 29 games. The Bucs were tied for 25th last season with only eight rushing scores.
Jordan Matthews, WR: DeSean Jackson didn’t deliver the dividends the Bucs were hoping for, as both Jackson and Mike Evans disappointed. Jackson didn’t appear to lose a step though as he led the NFL with 15.8 air yards per target. Adding Matthews to the mix in the slot and having him work underneath lets Jackson focus on what he’s best at it and will only help further open things up for Evans. Matthews struggled mightily (lowest PFF grade of his career – 41.7) after being dealt to Buffalo and playing in the Bills’ weak passing attack and should come on the cheap in free agency.
Early-round left tackle: Starting left tackle Donovan Smith finished out with a poor 51.9 final PFF grade in 2017 and has shown little progress in three seasons. The team needs to protect Winston’s blindside and must upgrade here in the offseason. Winston has worked at his best while under pressure as a pro, but it also led to some very poor decisions, particularly in the red zone, in 2017. Pick 38 could be a nice spot for the Bucs to consider spending another second-round pick on the position.