The number-crunchers at NumberFire.com have released their individual statistical projections for the Bucs, with quarterback Jameis Winston making progress in lowering his interceptions in his third NFL season.
Winston is projected to throw for 4,099 yards (he had 4,090 in 2016) and 26.9 touchdown passes, down slightly from his franchise record of 28 this past season. What would be encouraging in these projections is Winston throwing for 14.5 interceptions, down about 20 percent from the 18 he threw this past year.
It's pure speculation, even with the math involved, but it's a good conversation starter for what Bucs players are capable of with upgraded offensive talent this fall. Mike Evans? NumberFire has him catching 90.9 passes for 1,350 yards — that would be a career high and an increase for the third year in a row — but only 9.4 touchdowns, down from 12 in 2016. Newcomer DeSean Jackson is projected to get 50.8 catches for 832 yards and 4.7 touchdowns.
One debate Bucs fans and fantasy football owners are having is which of the talented tight ends will have better stats: Cameron Brate, who tied for the NFL lead among tight ends with eight TDs last year, or first-round pick O.J. Howard from Alabama. NumberFire's projections give a slight edge to Brate, who gets 43.9 catches for 552 yards and 4.3 touchdowns, while Howard gets 39.6 catches for 416 yards and 3.7 touchdowns.
And at running back, Doug Martin is projected to lead the team with 621 rushing yards and 4.6 touchdowns, with Charles Sims next at 398 yards, and curiously, last year's leading rusher Jacquizz Rodgers finishing with only 264 rushing yards. Sims is also projected to catch 42 passes for 381 yards, which would mark an impressive comeback to his 2015 form, when he went over 1,000 combined yards rushing and receiving.
For whatever reason, the NumberFire projections do not include two rookies likely to make an impact this season in WR Chris Godwin and RB Jeremy McNichols. Freddie Martino, Donteea Dye and Josh Huff are included — all getting between 5.5 and 5.7 catches in the projections, with Martino ahead with 82 receiving yards.
Which player is NumberFire underestimating the most? Which is the most overestimated for you?
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