After finishing with a league-low 22 sacks last season, the Buccaneers were in the market for a pass rusher. They found one in March, making a trade with the Giants to acquire Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s overcome a well-publicized hand injury and re-established himself as one of the NFL’s top defensive ends. With Pierre-Paul, wrecking-ball DT Gerald McCoy and newcomers Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and athletic rookie behemoth Vita Vea, the Bucs could have one of the better defensive lines in the league. They’re also strong at linebacker, led by tackling machine Lavonte David.
The Tampa Bay pass defense was a sieve last year, ranking last in the league, yielding a completion rate of 67.6 percent and giving up 7.8 yards per pass attempt. The defensive backfield is still messy. CB Vernon Hargreaves simply hasn’t lived up to his billing as a first-round draft pick in 2016. His running mate, Brent Grimes, will be 35 by the time the season starts (though he’s been aging fairly well). The Buccaneers’ safeties are only so-so. The Bucs’ divisional foes -- the Saints, Falcons and Panthers -- have offenses ranging from solid to great.
With the additions the Buccaneers have made to their defensive line, highlighted by the trade for Pierre-Paul, this unit has regained fantasy appeal. It’s not a defense you’ll want to use week in and week out, but it’s one you can use if the matchup is right.