Jameis Winston the biggest fantasy winner of Jackson to Tampa Bay
Sometimes things go as they’re expected to in free agency. The “DeSean Jackson to the Bucs” rumors came to fruition on Thursday morning with Tampa agreeing to terms with the veteran receiver. Jackson gives the Bucs a much-needed field-stretcher to play opposite Mike Evans. With Jameis Winston’s big arm, Tampa Bay now has potentially one of the league’s most explosive passing games.
Jackson will turn 31 in December, but is by no means over the hill. He’s coming off the fifth 1,000-yard season of his nine-year career, and managed 17.9 yards per reception. That tied with Chris Hogan for the league high among receivers with at least 500 snaps.
The drawback to Jackson from a fantasy standpoint has always been his boom-or-bust profile. As a big-play receiver, he typically does not see a high volume of targets. He’s only seen double-digit targets in a game twice over the last three years, and hasn’t topped 100 targets for a season since 2013. This lack of volume has made Jackson one of the most volatile fantasy options in the league. Any given week, he’s just as capable of putting up top-five fantasy numbers as he is of scoring three fantasy points.
In Tampa, Jackson’s target volume doesn’t figure to increase. Evans led all receivers with 168 targets, which was up from the 146 he saw in 2015. A true target monster, Evans will continue to see heavy volume from Winston in 2017. Jackson should surpass Adam Humphries total of 77 targets from last year, but it’s a stretch to suggest he’ll hit triple digits. So the volatility is all but guaranteed to remain. Jackson shouldn’t be considered more than a WR3 option, which is exactly how he finished in 2016.
While the change of scenery doesn’t necessarily boost Jackson’s fantasy stock, his presence certainly helps Winston. He’s topped 4,000 yards in each of his first two years as a pro, but is still very much on the upslope of his career. Defenses will need to account for Jackson, which will give more flexibility for Winston than he had in his first two years when he lacked a legitimate deep threat. Winston finished as a mid-pack QB2 last year, but is very much poised to take a step forward in 2017.
Jackson’s much-anticipated departure from Washington opens the door for second-year man Josh Doctson to step up. We saw very little of Doctson in his rookie year, but he did flash upside in Week 2 with a 57-yard reception. Doctson has good size (6-2, 202) and the ability to play above the rim in the red zone (41-inch vert). He was also extremely productive at the college level with a combined 25 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015. Docston is a good bet to be on a lot of fantasy breakout lists this year.