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Analyzing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Best and Worst-Case Scenarios



Tom Brady is officially retired, so NFL predictions about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be much less rosy moving forward than when the league’s greatest quarterback was under center. With Brady gone, the Buccaneers are entering a rebuilding phase, but they still have a lot of veteran talent on their roster. Can Tampa Bay compete in the NFC South, or should they hit the sim button until 2024?

Predicting the Best-Case Scenario for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Season

The Buccaneers spent most of the 2022 campaign looking frustrated and disjointed. After entering the season as a presumptive Super Bowl contender, Tampa Bay limped to an 8-9 record, barely snuck into the playoffs, and was quickly dispatched by the Cowboys in the Wild Card Round.

Out of range to draft an early first-round quarterback, the Buccaneers are staging a competition between former second-round pick Kyle Trask and free agent signing Baker Mayfield. This figures to be one of the least inspiring quarterback battles in recent memory, but a best-case scenario for Tampa Bay undoubtedly involves Trask winning the job.

The NFL already knows who Mayfield is — a relatively limited signal-caller who can thrive under the right conditions. But the Bucs don’t really know what they have in Trask, the 64th overall choice in the 2020 draft who’s attempted just nine passes at the NFL level.

Trask couldn’t beat out veteran Blaine Gabbert for Tampa Bay’s backup gig behind Brady, and the club didn’t even let him start a meaningless Week 18 game against the Falcons last season. The former Florida Gator might be totally overwhelmed as a Week 1 starter, but the Buccaneers don’t have much to lose by giving him a chance.

MORE: Best NFL Offenses | Best NFL Defenses 

In a perfect world, Trask could serve as a competent starter who could work within an offense that still has Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Not much has changed on the defensive side of the ball, where a unit headlined by Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, and a solid secondary should be able to post at least league-average production.

If Trask could keep his head above water in his de facto rookie season, Tampa Bay could sneak into the playoffs in a weak NFC South. Everything would have to break right — Bryce Young and Desmond Ridder would need to struggle with the Panthers and Falcons, respectively, while the Saints would probably need to suffer a few significant injuries.

In a best-case scenario, the Bucs could win eight games, which was enough to secure the division crown last season. However, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Trask and the rest of Tampa Bay’s roster bottomed out in 2023. If the Buccaneers are among the worst teams in the league next year, they could be in a position to land a passer in what could be a historic 2024 quarterback draft class.

Predicting the Worst-Case Scenario for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 NFL Season

The best-case scenarios for the Buccaneers include two polar opposite situations: sneaking into the postseason or bottoming out with their eyes on a 2024 quarterback. The worst-case scenario is somewhere in the middle.

If Tampa Bay wins six or seven games next season, they might not have much of a path forward in 2024. That record would likely give the Buccaneers a top-10 selection in next year’s draft, but it probably wouldn’t be enough to land a top-five choice.

If Tampa Bay isn’t in range to land a franchise quarterback in 2024, they might have to stick with Trask for another season or find a mid-tier veteran replacement.

While the Buccaneers are getting younger under center, the rest of their depth chart is aging. Tampa Bay fielded the NFL’s second-oldest team in 2023. While parting ways with veterans like Brady, Julio Jones, Akiem Hicks, and Shaq Mason will help improve those numbers, the Bucs still have a lot of players on the wrong side of 30.

MORE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 Schedule

If Tampa Bay finds itself without a clear path forward, it might have to start making hard decisions on veterans like Evans, Godwin, and cornerback Carlton Davis III.

General manager Jason Licht may have to consider selling off those pieces for draft assets in an effort to acquire enough capital to move up for a quarterback.

Depending on how the Buccaneers finish in 2023, Licht might also have to think about changing coaches. From a game management perspective, Todd Bowles represented a steep downgrade from Bruce Arians, and there’s a chance he’s simply an excellent defensive coordinator who is not cut out to be a head coach.

While the Bucs could cause some self-inflicted harm next season, a worst-case scenario might also include Young and Ridder immediately firing as Carolina and Atlanta’s starting quarterbacks. If those two clubs have franchise signal-callers in hand, Tampa Bay would have difficulty fighting back toward relevancy in the NFC South.

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Nick Chubb Injury Propels Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr.




Injuries are an awful reality of the game of football, and Monday night we got another somber reminder of that fact. Cleveland Browns star running back Nick Chubb looks to be lost for the season after he suffered a gruesome leg injury early in their contest versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chubb would be carted off the field — it served as a tough moment for all of the NFL as Chubb is universally liked and respected.

The knee injury Chubb sustained last night is to the same knee that he injured in a severe way in 2015 when he played at the University of Georgia.

While the move to put Chubb on season-ending injured reserve has not been announced yet, the sentiment is that it is a formality at this time. The Browns are now looking to move forward in 2023 without having their star running back in their plans.

Without Chubb on the field, things change quite a bit for the Browns’ rushing attack. Let’s take a closer look at some of the names that will be stepping up in his absence for the team.

Cleveland Browns’ Running Back Room Without Chubb

The first running back off the bench looking to spell Chubb is second-year running back Jerome Ford. Ford was drafted by the Browns in the fifth round of last year’s NFL Draft. For the time being, Ford looks to be the lead man to take on Chubb’s workload.

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So far this season, Ford has seen 31 carries for 142 yards, good for 4.6 yards a touch, with most of that production (16 carries for 106 yards) coming last night in relief of Chubb.

He may not be Chubb talent-wise, but the Browns feel good about Ford, and last night’s performance may have done wonders for the confidence in the running game.

The next man up after Ford looks to be Pierre Strong Jr., who the Browns acquired via trade from the New England Patriots prior to Week 1. Strong has not seen much work thus far this season, with his only work coming on two carries last night for one yard (albeit one of them was for a touchdown). However, his workload will surely increase now with Chubb not in the fold.

Will the Browns Sign a Free Agent Running Back?

The third and final running back on the Browns’ roster is practice squad running back, Hassan Hall. Hall is a rookie out of Georgia Tech and has not seen any action so far through two games.

It will be interesting to see if the Browns choose to elevate Hall from the practice squad to the 53-man roster moving forward or if they will look to outsource for that third addition to the room. Some interesting free agent names are available, like old friend Kareem Hunt.

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Should You Add Giants RB Matt Breida? Fantasy Analysis and More




New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley picked up an ankle injury during the team’s 31-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals. His status for the Giants’ matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football in serious jeopardy. Is backup running back Matt Breida worth starting consideration in your fantasy football lineup against one of the best defenses in the league? Let’s take a closer look.

Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Start/Sit Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

Latest Injury News Surrounding Saquon Barkley

First things first, here is the latest injury update we have on Barkley.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Barkley’s MRI revealed an ordinary ankle sprain, which could make him unavailable for the next three weeks.

The optimistic way to look at this news is that he avoided the dreaded high ankle sprain, which tends to be a major problem for skill-position players to deal with during the season because of the high risk of reaggravating the injury.

Barkley also had an encounter with a high ankle sprain back in 2019, which cost him four games altogether. However, he was far less efficient in his return from the ankle injury for the remainder of the season.

Barkley was also projected as a non-participant for the team’s practice on Monday.

Should You Add Backup Matt Breida?

When Barkley exited the game against the Cardinals on the team’s final offensive possession, it was Breida who saw the final carry for the team.

MORE: Fantasy News Tracker

Unless the team signs a free agent running back — or decides to give another back on the roster priority for an expanded role — Breida should be the leading candidate to see most work out of this Giants backfield in Week 3.

Should you put in a waiver wire claim to add Breida? Yes.

The real question is, should you trust Breida in your lineup against the 49ers?

My answer is no.

The Giants’ offense struggled through the first six quarters of the season, scoring a grand total of zero points during that span.

Sure, the team managed to score 31 points in the second half against the Cardinals, but the Niners’ defense is about three tiers higher than the Cardinals’ unit on the NFL defensive hierarchy.

If a talent like Barkley struggled to get going in a feature role in this offense, I just don’t see the upside for Breida against the Niners. He feels like a touchdown-dependent dart throw against an elite defense. I’d rather go in another direction.

What Free Agent Running Backs Are Available for the Giants?

If Barkley is going to miss multiple weeks, the team could pursue a free agent running back. Currently, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette are the top available veteran running backs on the open market.

While Hunt and Fournette have seen plenty of success in the NFL, both have failed to secure a deal after visiting with multiple teams during the course of this offseason and training camp.

Not to mention, even if the team did have an interest in signing a veteran back to put some quality depth behind Saquon, the team is scheduled to play a game in just two days. The odds of a free agent running back signing a contract today and playing a significant role in the offense in just over 48 hours feels highly unlikely.

Additionally, the team could potentially give the Los Angeles Rams a call to see what the asking price is for Cam Akers. But this feels a bit more unlikely given Barkley isn’t expected to miss a ton of time.

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Should I Pick Up Texans WR This Week?




Despite being 0-2 on the season, the Houston Texans have to like what they have seen out of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. The No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft has thrown for 626 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 63.7% of his passes. One of his favorite targets thus far has been Robert Woods, who has 12 catches in two games for the Texans.

Are these 12 catches a sign of things to come for Woods, and should he be a waiver wire pickup for your fantasy football team?

Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Start/Sit Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

Should Robert Woods Be a Fantasy Waiver Wire Add in Week 3?

It doesn’t matter where he has played in his career, Woods has shown that he is going to be a solid contributing receiver no matter what.

In his first 10 years in the NFL, the least catches he has ever had in a season is 53, and the fewest yards is 527. From 2018-2020, he averaged 86.6 catches and 1,096 receiving yards with the Los Angeles Rams.

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While he isn’t going to put up those kind of numbers, there are some positives from the first two weeks for Woods.

One thing about rookie quarterbacks is they love to lean on reliable receivers who are going to be in the right spot. Woods is a good route runner, who has never truly counted on game-breaking speed or athleticism to get open.

Stroud has shown in these first two games that he trusts that Woods will be in the right spot and run the correct route. Woods is currently not only second on the team in catches but also targets.

Nico Collins leads the team in both of those categories, and is more of the big-play guy for the receiving corps. However, if Collins isn’t open, Stroud has shown that Woods is his guy when he needs a completion.

While Woods is playing very good football right now, what is his ceiling and would that make it worth signing him on the waiver wire?

The Texans look like they will not be a contender in the AFC South. Hence, they’ll look to continue to develop Stroud with the young receivers. Tank Dell has shown flashes in his rookie year of being a solid receiver; he’s a guy Stroud asked the team to draft after they selected him.

John Metchie III played on Sunday after missing all of his rookie year due to leukemia. As the season moves on and the team looks to the future, the odd man out in the Texans’ offense could be Woods.

Right now, it is too early to sign him on the waiver wire. However, if he continues to play well, he could be someone to look at right around the NFL trade deadline. There are always contenders who could use some help, and a veteran like Woods could end up with a bigger role on a team going for the playoffs.

Don’t sign him now, but definitely keep an eye on his stats the next few weeks.

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Did you know that Pro Football Network has a fantasy football podcast? Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.

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