2014 Fantasy Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST Gets Upgrade Under Lovie Smith

By Dustin Manko
Lovie Smith
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

News has recently surfaced that former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has agreed to become the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, returning to the city where he served as an assistant under Tony Dungy. After the Bucs D/ST managed to crack the top 25 (they finished 21st) in standard league scoring for the first time in three seasons, what does this hire mean for the defense in fantasy football in  2014?

My initial reaction is to move the D/ST up to heavy sleeper status with potential to be a top 10-15 team in standard scoring leagues. Smith is a very good coach with a history of defensive success. He managed to coach a Bears team all the way to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as his quarterback, only to lose to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. Tampa has loads of talent on their defense and I’m not sure how they wouldn’t improve under Smith.

Smith was a linebacker coach during his first stint with the Bucs and would be a huge boost to the learning curves of Lavonte David and Mason Foster. David was considered by many (myself included, read about it here) to have been snubbed by being excluded from the Pro Bowl roster. With Smith’s tutorage, David could easily be one of the league’s best linebackers next season.

Even though Tampa Bay finished 2013 with the 21st ranked total defense in the league, they arguably have top 10 talent. Gerald McCoy led the team with nine sacks and chipped in four passes defended. The secondary is full of playmakers like Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, and Mark Barron. As a team, Tampa Bay was third in the NFL with 21 interceptions. During his time in Chicgao, Smith’s teams were known for having an ability to consistently among the league leaders in creating turnovers and consistently scoring points from the defensive side of the ball.

Maybe the most important thing about Smith is that he has a reputation for his players loving him. Many players have spoken about how they saw Smith as more of a father type figure they loved to play for. After ousted coach Greg Schiano’s hard line approach that wore thin with the Bucs defense, having a coach who the players respect and want to play, and play hard for, could be the biggest factor in turning around that unit. All in all, this is a great hire for the Bucs, and will increase the fantasy value of the D/ST as a whole, along with for the IDP’ers out there. Keep your eye on the Bucs in 2014.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Read more from Dustin here.

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