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Player Outlooks (2023)
QB Baker Mayfield: Tampa Bay appears set to have the only true quarterback battle of the summer, but Mayfield probably has the advantage over Kyle Trask because of his experience and flashes shown (the most recent being a couple of December wins for the Rams in 2022). Although the weapons are there to put up numbers, Mayfield could have a limited ceiling with head coach Todd Bowles wanting to run the ball more this year—likely making the former No. 1 overall pick a matchup-based streaming option.
QB Kyle Trask: He’s appeared in just one game since being drafted in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but Trask was a prolific college quarterback with 4,283 passing yards and a 43:8 touchdown-interception in his final season at Florida, and the same regime that selected him is in place for Tampa Bay. If he’s able to win the quarterback competition, Trask would have a similar outlook to Mayfield with low-end QB2 appeal.
RB Rachaad White: The Bucs failed to reach expectations in Tom Brady’s final season, and some might already be writing off White after he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry as a rookie. There were flashes to be encouraged about, though, and Tampa Bay made him the starter over Leonard Fournette midway through last year. Considering the ability as a pass-catcher and Bowles’ desire to run the ball more, White should be a high-floor RB2 option that fantasy owners should take in the fourth or fifth round.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn: Comments made by new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales about Vaughn this offseason are worth mentioning, as he called him “a fantastic runner” with a “natural feel” for the position—also naming him the No. 2 back behind White. There will be competition in camp, but Vaughn has the inside track for late-round fantasy value.
RB Chase Edmonds: A popular breakout candidate last season, Edmonds ended up not being a fit for Miami, and was eventually traded to Denver where he had a bit more success. Now, he’ll try to rebuild his value by earning a receiving role for the Bucs, but his ceiling will be capped with White being the top option in the passing game; and even if an injury were to strike, Edmonds would likely be part of a committee.
RB Sean Tucker: Tucker—who reportedly went undrafted due to a heart issue and knee injury—could have been a Day 2 pick, and he has no limitations entering training camp. Again, the Bucs have Rachaad White clearly atop the depth chart, but Tucker is a name to monitor next month and a tremendous stash in dynasty leagues.
WR Chris Godwin: The GOAT is gone, but Godwin should be the favorite target of projected starting quarterback Baker Mayfield based on their respective skillsets—so a statistical decline doesn’t need to happen with Godwin being a year removed from his torn ACL suffered in 2021. Over the final seven full games last season, the former All-Pro wideout was on a 136/1,370/7 pace, and we like him to return solid WR2 value in 2023.
WR Mike Evans: The outlook for Evans is a bit shakier, as Mayfield hasn’t been the best quarterback for perimeter weapons to put up numbers with, and often drawing the top cover man from opponents makes the big-bodied target a volatile, low-floor option. Before a 207-yard, three-score explosion last year in Week 17, Evans had just three touchdowns on the season, and that number not climbing back towards the double-digits could result in disappointment.
WR Russell Gage: The Buccaneers struggling to protect Tom Brady last year negatively impacted all their pass-catchers, and that included Gage needing to be used as an outlet target with limited upside after signing a three-year, $30-million deal last offseason. However, similar to Chris Godwin, the skillset of Gage could make him a nice fit with Mayfield, so he could carry some FLEX appeal if the Bucs throw a bit more than expected.
WR Trey Palmer: Tampa Bay has a very thin depth chart behind the top three, which puts Palmer—taken in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft—an option that could see early playing time with room for an expanded role if someone goes down. With 4.33 speed and an ability to get vertical, Palmer would profile as a boom-or-bust play in deeper leagues.
WR David Moore: Undrafted rookie Rakim Jarrett and others could emerge, too, but Moore—despite not catching a pass since 2020—is the only other wide receiver with proven production in the league by catching 13 touchdowns with Seattle from 2018 to 2020. Depending on how the group shows in camp, Tampa Bay would seem to be a candidate to add a receiver when rosters are cut down around the league.
TE Cade Otton: Otton showed flashes in his first season, but you could sense the frustration Tom Brady had with him at times due to inconsistency—which, to be fair, is expected from a rookie tight end. Less individual pressure and lower team expectations could lead to Otton playing more freely in 2023, and not having Cameron Brate or Kyle Rudolph on the team will give him a more stable role as a potential TE2 option.
TE Ko Kieft: Already one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, Kieft caught seven passes for 80 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, and he should see quite a bit of action again in 2023. As usual, the best shot at fantasy value for a backup tight end is finding the end zone.
TE Payne Durham: Durham was selected in the fifth round of April’s draft, and he could be an immediate factor in scoring territory with 21 career touchdowns in 45 games for Purdue. That said, the selection probably says more about the kind of offensive transition Tampa Bay wants to have by running the ball more, and having three capable tight ends will help achieve that goal.
Best IDP value: S Antoine Winfield Jr.
The Buccaneers still have plenty of star-level options on defense, and Winfield—one of the best safeties in the game—is playing for a new contract and might see increased snaps in the slot with Sean Murphy-Bunting gone. Even if he remains in the traditional safety spot, Winfield could benefit from the slot being targeted more with some tipped balls between the numbers ending up in his hands.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
Over his final 15 games of last season (including playoffs), Chris Godwin averaged 10.1 targets and 7.4 receptions per game.