The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Texas A&M WR Mike Evans with the seventh pick in the 2014 NFL Draft last night. Evans was Johnny Manziel’s most dangerous receiving weapon, racking up almost 1,400 yards and 12 TDs last year. Evans may or may not make an immediate impact in fantasy football, but he definitely impacts Josh McCown’s fantasy value for this coming season.
Let’s first take a look at what McCown was able to accomplish last season. In 2013, McCown started five games for the Chicago Bears. In those games, he threw for over 1,500 yards with 11 TDs and only one INT. But one of the most important fantasy rules is to never chase a player’s production from the previous season.
A lot of McCown’s success last year is attributed to the weapons he had in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte. Marshall and Jeffery are big targets at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and 6-foot-3, 216 pounds respectively. Forte is a dynamic rusher and pass catcher who had over 1,900 total yards in 2013, but now McCown has very similar weapons in Tampa Bay.
Evans is a huge target at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. He can do it all, including being a viable red zone threat and going up for contested balls. Vincent Jackson will be lined up on the other side at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. In his rookie year when healthy, Doug Martin also had over 1,900 total yards in 2012. It looks pretty promising for McCown from where I’m standing.
Of course, the playbook and overall offensive scheme matters, which is why I don’t have McCown as a top fantasy QB. Bears head coach Marc Trestman ran a very QB-friendly offense that helped McCown succeed last year. Prior to 2013, McCown had put up very pedestrian numbers.
As a Chicago fan, I’m very aware that the Buccaneers’ new head coach Lovie Smith (Bears head coach from 2004 to 2012) is nowhere near the offensive mind that Trestman is. In seven of those eight seasons under Smith, the Bears’ passing offense ranked in the bottom half of the league. Smith is a defensive coach first, and we have yet to see what the Buccaneers’ new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford can do in the NFL.
The pieces are all there. The only question is whether Smith and Tedford can capitalize on the talent they have in Tampa Bay. McCown has the potential to be a top-10 fantasy QB in 2014, but I would not draft him as such as he also has the potential to slip back into fantasy irrelevance. I think McCown’s ceiling is at about 4,000 yards and 25 TDs and 10 INTs, but his floor is set low at around 2,500 yards with 15 TDs and 10 INTs.
I’ll start posting my preliminary rankings after the draft is completed, but I only have McCown as my 19th-ranked QB right now. However, I do believe there is a lot of potential for McCown, which is why I have him ranked higher than most. The ideal situation right now would be to have him as your QB2 late in the draft, but not as your starter.