When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in 2015, they were hoping he would be the future of their franchise. Having whiffed fairly recently on Josh Freeman, the team absolutely needed Winston to be a hit. Much to their pleasure, he looks to be the right choice so far after posting a terrific rookie season. And for both Tampa Bay and fantasy owners, he should be able to build on that in 2016.
Rookie Season Review
I talked about Winston’s terrific rookie season, but just how good was it?
Using the awesome RotoViz Screener App, we see Winston’s rookie year looks eerily similar to that of Cam Newton’s from a passing perspective. And while he may not be the same kind of dynamic runner Newton is, Winston certainly left his own mark on the Tampa Bay run game, with over 200 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Winston’s rookie year 7.1 AYA was better than quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning. In fact, he is one of just 13 players all-time to throw for at least 20 touchdowns as a rookie, and the eighth since Peyton did it in 1998. No matter how you spin it, Winston’s rookie year was nothing short of awesome.
Dirk Koetter’s Impact
The Bucs made a big coaching move this off-season when they fired head coach Lovie Smith and promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to the head coaching position. Hopefully this allows for Winston to air it out a little bit more in 2016.
Tampa Bay threw the ball about two percent less last year than Koetter’s career average as an offensive coordinator. That leaves some room for growth here in year two, and it would not surprise me to see Winston gain an additional 20 or so pass attempts in 2016. Considering that the under is currently favored on the Bucs 7.5 win total prop at Bovada, I don’t expect the team to improve enough to lean heavily on its run game. Instead, the offense will be placed in the hands of the team’s young signal caller.
The biggest thing that should be able to get Winston to the next level is the awesome collection of weapons he has in Tampa. We’ll start with Mike Evans.
Evans is often considered to have taken a step back in 2015, but the RotoViz Career Graphs App shows us that this probably isn’t true. Yes, he was unlucky in the touchdown scoring department, but the rest of his numbers were very close to what they were when he was a rookie. In particular, he managed to maintain a yards per target above eight despite a sizable volume increase. He is still a huge target, and will be the primary receiver for Winston.
The demise of Vincent Jackson has been massively overstated. He isn’t at the phase of his career anymore where he is going to dominate targets, but the veteran can still ball, posting his highest yards per target and touchdown rate since 2012. In a secondary role with the team, he should be able to dominate lesser corners, especially in the red-zone.
Then there’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has an impressive comp as a prospect at Player Profiler.
Plenty of people forget ASJ was an incredible prospect, and he could have a true breakout season in 2016. He was already pretty good in limited action last season.
According to the RotoViz Game Splits App, ASJ played at a 773 yard, nine touchdown pace in 2015, which shouldn’t be surprising since has been a dominant touchdown scorer since his days at Washington.
In Evans, Jackson, and Seferian-Jenkins, Winston will have three receiving options who are six foot five or taller, giving him tremendous touchdown upside in 2016. He also has two accomplished pass catchers out of the backfield in Doug Martin and Charles Sims.
The quarterback position is as deep as ever in 2016, and you want to make sure you are selecting players who could outperform their ADP in order to make a difference in your season. Winston is going as the QB11 in our 10-team mock drafts, and QB10 in our 12-team ones. I think that on the surface that looks too high, but there is still plenty of upside that has yet to be tapped by Winston and the Buccaneer offense. With his potential boost in pass attempts, humongous weapons, and ability to punch in short touchdowns with his legs, Winston presents tremendous touchdown upside for 2016, which is something well worth chasing in fantasy.