TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' tight end situation is intriguing. They drafted the colossal Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-5, 262 pounds) two years ago, but he's struggled to stay healthy. In two seasons he's missed 16 games, which has hampered his development. And then, throw in the facts that head coach Dirk Koetter kicked him out of the final day of OTAs and he's listed as second on the depth chart -- it doesn't evoke a lot of confidence in Seferian-Jenkins from a fantasy perspective.
The guy who's No. 1 on the depth chart is Cameron Brate, a former undrafted free agent out of Harvard. He's not as much a physical specimen (6-5, 236) and is more of the H-back type, but he has been the most consistent of the Bucs' tight ends in training camp, catching virtually everything that's been thrown his way, including in the red zone. He might not be catching passes with two linebackers draped on his body and still moving, but it's pretty clear that he's one of Jameis Winston's favorite targets.
Fantasy projection: 42.2 targets, 24.9 receptions, 278 yards, 2.4 touchdowns
Over or under: I'm taking the over on everything. Brate has shown great chemistry with Winston and been one of the most consistent pass-catchers in training camp, receivers included. He's not going to get much yardage after contact, but he's still shown he can consistently catch passes in traffic and in the end zone, along the sideline (he's done a great job keeping his feet in bounds) and is terrific on back-shoulder fades. We could see Brate become what Nick O'Leary was for Winston at Florida State, so he's a potential fantasy sleeper pick.
Fantasy projection: 63.2 targets, 37.3 receptions, 462 yards, 3.7 TDs, 68.3 points
Over or under: I think 37 catches is about right for ASJ, and it woulbe a good season for him if he can get 462 yards -- it would be a career-high for him. I taking the under on touchdowns, but not by much. If he can stay healthy and show more consistency in practice -- which he's been doing lately, but he's gotta keep doing it -- I'd be more willing to push these numbers up.
Who else could see time: This is based on potential and the growth I've seen in practice the last two weeks and through minicamps, but rookie tight end Danny Vitale is a jack-of-all-trades, having played the "superback" role at Northwestern. He has to make the roster first, but I like his chances because he can be utilized as a run-blocker, pass-catcher and even a ball carrier, which should translate into some action out on the field. If he emerges, it would be late in the season.