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2010 Fantasy outlooks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Not much went right for the Bucs in 2009 as they lost 13 games and were pretty dreadful on both sides of the ball. But they weren't without their highlights: Two of their three wins last season were against playoff-bound teams, including one over the Super Bowl champion Saints, and the team gained confidence in their young quarterback, Josh Freeman. Having Cadillac Williams survive the season without injury also was a positive.

The Bucs followed that up with a tremendous draft, addressing two huge needs with quality selections at defensive tackle (first-round pick Gerald McCoy and second-round pick Brian Price) and wide receiver (second-round pick Arrelious Benn and fourth-round pick Mike Williams). The young talent provides them with capable players who should develop into legitimate starters as soon as ... well, this season. The Bucs need to lean on these guys now.

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There's a lot of young talent on this team, and it's probably by design. That said, expectations are fairly low in Tampa Bay because the young talent is just that: young. There will probably be a couple more exciting wins for the Bucs this season than last, but growing pains are to be expected.

Late-round flier ... Mike Williams, WR

Arrelious Benn might have been the receiver taken earlier in the NFL Draft by the Buccaneers, but Williams has garnered the praise -- and first-team reps -- this past spring. Williams had a falling out in college that led to a shortened senior year, but he's apparently past that and adjusting to his new life in the NFL. He's learned the offense quickly and has shown it in on-field drills, he's staying late to polish his game and his big frame doesn't hurt things either. Rookie receivers are considered no-no's in Fantasy, but Williams should see lots of playing time in an offense that doesn't have anything close to a reliable wideout. Maybe he'll become that reliable option.

Fantasy value chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Josh Freeman
Running Backs
Cadillac Williams
Derrick Ward
Wide Receivers
Mike Williams
Arrelious Benn
Sammie Stroughter
Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow
Kicker/DST
Connor Barth
Buccaneers DST

Keeper-league target ... Arrelious Benn, WR

Benn hasn't impressed like Williams has this offseason, meaning that he's probably a receiver who will progress at a slower pace and probably not produce big stats anytime soon. But Benn has good size and was a capable playmaker in college without the benefit of a quality quarterback. Because he'll adjust on a different clock than Williams, Benn's a better pick in dynasty and keeper leagues than in standard formats.

Bust ... Josh Freeman, QB

What makes Freeman compelling is his big size, his strong arm and his ability to rely on his feet when a play breaks down. What makes him nerve-racking is his lack of accuracy (54.5 percent of his passes completed last season) and lack of reliable receivers. So while Freeman has the potential to be a 3,000-yard passer and, say, 500-yard rusher with around 20 total touchdowns, he also has the potential to turn the ball over a couple of times per week. He's got talent, that much is for sure, but there are still questions about how polished he is and whether or not he's in an offense that can rack up yards and points. Figure him to be a breakout candidate in 2011, not 2010.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
CLE @CAR PIT bye @CIN NO STL @ARI @ATL CAR @SF @BAL ATL @WAS DET SEA @NO

This isn't a great schedule for the Bucs, especially for Cadillac Williams and the run game. It starts easy enough but then three straight games against the Steelers, Bengals and Saints don't provide much optimism. Midseason dates with other potentially stingy run defenses makes matters worse -- and two of those matchups West Coast tilts. If there is a bright side for this team, it's that their schedule from Week 14 on isn't that bad. If the team stays competitive and focused there is the potential for a breakout or two just in time for the Fantasy postseason.

Training camp topics

2009 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Cadillac Williams 239
Derrick Ward 134
Kellen Winslow 77
Antonio Bryant 39

Would you believe that Cadillac Williams and Kellen Winslow are the old men on offense? Granted, they might have the durability of legitimate old men, but they're both fairly young -- Williams will be 28 when the season starts and Winslow will be 27. Obviously, injury concerns surround both players and likely will until they can prove durable. To be fair, Williams didn't miss a game last season after two patellar tendon injuries in a calendar year, and Winslow has been in 16 games three of the last four seasons. Also, only Winslow had offseason surgery on his knee; Williams has been healthy and an active participant in all of the Bucs' spring practices.

Among the receivers, Williams seems like an odds-on favorite to land a starting role. But head coach Raheem Morris said earlier this offseason that he'd almost prefer to have several good receivers than one reliable star. The reason: It would keep everyone fresh and keep defenses guessing. It sure sounds nice but we bet if you offered Morris the chance to have Roddy White or Marques Colston on his roster he'd take you up on it. Expect the Bucs to make the most of the receivers they have, but only Williams has serious upside. Training camp could reveal another option, though.

There's also a holdout worth watching: Left tackle Donald Penn wasn't with the team this offseason, and while he's not quite as high-profile of a player as Chris Johnson or Vincent Jackson, Penn is a vital part of the Bucs. If he's out, the Bucs will have to go with second-year player Demar Dotson, an undrafted free agent and former basketball player. Yikes.

The Bucs' defense might be more improved than their offense this season, though the play of their rookie defensive tackles will play a huge role. This is a unit with good veteran talent -- guys like linebacker Barrett Ruud, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety Tanard Jackson will keep the Bucs defense competitive. But a lack of a pass rush and the unknown of their big men up front could turn Tampa Bay into doormats against overpowering run games -- at least early on in the year.

Injury update

Kellen Winslow (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Sammie Stroughter (foot; probable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Vikings sign Kurt Coleman
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) The Vikings signed safety Kurt Coleman on Thursday. He spent the past four seasons with the Eagles and has seven career interceptions.

Coleman will try to make the final roster in Minnesota as a reserve defensive back and play on special teams.


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(10:54 am ET) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges relating to his Nov. 10 arrest for marijuana possession, the Kansas City Star reports. He paid $610 in fines and didn't get probation. It remains to be seen if he'll be subject to the NFL's substance abuse program. 

Report: Giants should consider dealing Ryan Nassib
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(10:43 am ET) Now that the Giants have signed Josh Freeman to a contract, does it mean that second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib will be off the roster soon? 

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Nassib had 19 pass attempts during the preseason last August and wasn't active for a single regular-season game. 


Robert Griffin III looking like old self
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) A couple of members of the Redskins organization have started raving about how good quarterback Robert Griffin III looks this offseason, reports the Washington Post.

Receiver Santana Moss said via an ESPN podcast that Griffin "looks more comfortable because he don't have to worry about that brace. I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind because he couldn't do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we're out there in conditioning and stuff, he's running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin."

And former tight end Chris Cooley, currently one of the team's radio broadcasters, said "he's another person right now. I was like, 'you're running unbelievably well.' It was silly to watch. ... When you watch him run, you're like, 'You're a freak. You're seriously a freak.'"


Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:33 am ET) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

Johnson hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. He's expected to form a one-two punch with Chris Ivory in the Jets' backfield this year. 


Brian Cushing says he's 100 percent
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(10:27 am ET) Posting a picture of himself with his son from a beach, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said via Twitter that he's been cleared for football. Cushing missed the last nine games of last season with a knee injury. 

"Quick Trip to Pensacola with my lead blocker, better believe I'm 100% #beachday #cleared #fivesixback," he wrote. 


Could Peyton Manning throw less in 2014?
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(10:23 am ET) Peyton Manning might be asked to throw less so "the offense can be more," ESPN speculated on Thursday. Manning threw 659 passes last season, completing 450 of them (68.3 pct.) for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The yardage and touchdowns are NFL records. 

The thought process behind Manning being asked to throw less is that it would accentuate the run game and give the offense (read: Manning) more of an opportunity to build confidence in the running backs, namely Montee Ball.

No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


Sidney Rice opting to return to Seattle
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(2:05 am ET) The Seahawks re-signed free-agent wide receiver Sidney Rice to a one-year deal Wednesday, after being cut earlier in the offseason.

Financial terms of the deal are not yet known, though it will surely pay him less than the $8.5 million he was initially set to make before he was cut. Rice is recovering from a torn ACL in October, but has been cleared to return to football activities. 


Jaguars sign Mike Brown
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(2:03 am ET) The Jaguars signed exclusive rights free agent receiver Mike Brown Wednesday. The terms of the contract are not immediately available.

Brown finished third on the team in receiving yards a year ago, finishing with 32 receptions for 446 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 11 games. 


Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
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(4/16/2014) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


 
 
 
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