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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Bucs were a complete disaster in 2011, which led to coach Raheem Morris being fired and several significant upgrades this offseason. We hope more Fantasy production will follow with the new additions.

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Greg Schiano steps in as the head coach from Rutgers, and he has some new toys to play with. The Bucs spent big money on receiver Vincent Jackson (five years at $55 million with $26 million guaranteed) and guard Carl Nicks (five years at $47.5 million with $31 million guaranteed) and replaced Kellen Winslow (traded to Seattle) for Dallas Clark. Tampa Bay also drafted a new running back in the first round with Boise State's Doug Martin.

On defense, the Bucs had to shore up a unit that allowed the most points in the NFL at 30.8 per game. They managed a league low 23 sacks, and the Bucs hope the addition of first-round pick Mark Barron, a safety from Alabama, will help stop opposing offenses.

Tampa Bay was considered a team on the rise following a strong campaign in 2010, which featured quality Fantasy performances from Josh Freeman, Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount. Now the Bucs will have to rebound after falling apart last year, and they have to hope Freeman and his new weapons are up to the challenge.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Josh Freeman 12
Running Backs
Doug Martin 5
LeGarrette Blount 9
Wide Receivers
Vincent Jackson 5
Mike Williams 11
Preston Parker ND
Arrelious Benn ND
Dezmon Briscoe ND
Tight Ends
Dallas Clark 11
Kickers/Defense
Connor Barth ND
Buccaneers DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Impact rookie ... Doug Martin, running back
Blount is not going to hand over his job to Martin. In fact, Blount hopes to remain the starter, and he has a good argument. Last year, as bad as Blount was, he did OK when given touches. In games where he had at least 18 carries last season, he totaled three 100-yard rush games and scored three touchdowns. Of course, Blount had only five games with at least 18 carries as he lost playing time because he fumbled too much (five on the season) and wasn't effective early on in games. Enter Martin, who has a skill set similar to Ray Rice, who Schiano coached at Rutgers. We can see both running backs sharing carries, but Martin has a ton of upside. He projects as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in standard leagues with his value slightly higher in PPR formats. We could see Martin reaching 1,200 total yards, and the key will be how many touchdowns he can score, especially with Blount as a potential vulture. Martin should be drafted in Round 5, and Blount is a good late-round target in Round 9.

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Bust ... Vincent Jackson, wide receiver
I tend to stay away from players like Jackson who beg for a new contract and leave a team for big money elsewhere. Does he deserve to get paid? Absolutely. Does that mean he will succeed in his new home? Probably not. To give you an idea of some receivers who have left a good situation and not panned out look at Sidney Rice in Seattle, Santonio Holmes with the Jets and Anquan Boldin in Baltimore. All were better with their previous team, and the same could happen with Jackson. He gets a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers to Freeman, and Jackson's production should decline. I don't consider him a guaranteed starter in the majority of leagues, and the earliest Jackson should be drafted is Round 5 in standard formats.

Bounce-back candidate ... Josh Freeman, quarterback
Freeman was a Top 12 quarterback in 2010 mostly because he was solid with few mistakes. He passed for just 3,451 yards, but he had 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He added 364 rushing yards and appeared poised for a breakout in 2011. But his stellar touchdown-to-interception ratio fell apart last year with 16 touchdowns and 22 picks. His passing yards only improved marginally at 3,592, and his rushing stats dropped to 238 yards (he did score four rushing touchdowns). This year, Freeman should rebound to have his best season. The Bucs upgraded at receiver with Jackson and improved the offensive line with Nicks. Martin should excel out of the backfield, and if Clark has anything left, he should help as well. We also hope Mike Williams is a bounce-back candidate, and the Bucs offense should improve as a whole. Freeman should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with a late-round pick. It would not be a stretch to see him return as a Top 12 option.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
CAR @NYG @DAL WAS bye KC NO @MIN @OAK SD @CAR ATL @DEN PHI @NO STL @ATL
The Bucs defense isn't expected to be great, and they play their fair share of explosive offenses. That should mean a lot of playing from behind for the Tampa Bay offense, which in turn could mean some good opportunities for the passing game. The Bucs did land nearly a month at home with a three-game homestand with a bye week in the middle in the early going, and that could help settle their offense down. The feeling remains that they'll simply get outscored in most of their games.

Training camp topics

There should be a good training camp battle between Martin and Blount for the starting job. Martin missed some offseason workouts due to a hamstring injury, which has helped Blount to learn the new offense. He has reportedly looked good and has improved how he holds the ball, which should help his fumble woes.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
LeGarrette Blount 184 carries, 15 catches
Kellen Winslow 75 catches
Kregg Lumpkin 41 catches, 31 carries
Mike Williams 65 catches, 1 carry
Earnest Graham 37 carries, 26 catches

The Bucs will likely stick with Williams as a starter opposite Jackson, but he has a lot to prove after what happened last year. Williams went from 65 catches, 964 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2010 to 65 catches, 771 yards and three touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. We think Williams will rebound, but he's only worth a late-round pick.

The same goes for Clark, who struggled in 2011 without Peyton Manning. Clark had to settle for signing with the Bucs, and his days as a starting Fantasy tight end are behind him. He should only be added off the waiver wire if he starts out the season playing well.

Injury update

Martin (hamstring; probable for the start of training camp) ... Da'Quan Bowers (Achilles; hopeful to return toward end of season)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Rams sticking with C Scott Wells despite bad snaps
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(8:14 pm ET) Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he is sticking with center Scott Wells despite two errant shotgun snaps in Sunday's loss to the Giants, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wells has played with an elbow brace since hurting his elbow Oct. 26.

"We're gonna go forward with Scott," Fisher told the paper. "Scott does a good job inside communicating, identifying things, getting protections called."


LT Ryan Clady among Broncos ready to roll
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:32 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will have his blindside protector Monday night in Cincinnati, as left tackle Ryan Clady is active. Clady had been questionable with a thigh injury.

Also suiting up for Denver are right tackle Chris Clark (back), wideout Cody Latimer (concussion), center Will Montgomery (knee), tight end Jacob Tamme (ribs) and cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder).


TE Jermaine Gresham among Bengals cleared to play
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, who was probable with a toe injury, is active for Monday's game against the Broncos after sitting out last week.

Also suiting up for Cincy are defensive end Carlos Dunlap (calf), defensive end Margus Hunt (ankle), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (Achilles), offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (illness), cornerback Terence Newman (ankle), guard Mike Pollak (knee) and wideout Brandon Tate (illness).


Bengals release MNF inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) The Bengals ruled these players inactive for Monday's game against the Broncos: quarterback AJ McCarron (illness), defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris, linebacker Emmanuel Lamu (hamstring), wideouts Greg Little and James Wright (knee), and offensive linemen Devon Still and Tanner Hawkinson.

Broncos announce Week 16 inactives
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:13 pm ET) The Broncos declared running back Ronnie Hillman (foot), linebacker Brandon Marshall (foot), defensive back Tony Carter, offensive linemen Michael Schofield and Paul Cornick, tight end Dominique Jones and defensive lineman Quanterus Smith inactive for Monday's game at Cincinnati.

RB Ronnie Hillman inactive as C.J. Anderson starts again
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, who was questionable with a foot injury, is inactive at Cincinnati and will miss his sixth straight game. Running back C.J. Anderson, who was probable with an ankle injury, is active and will get another start.

Anderson has scored five touchdowns in the past four games while receiving at least 21 touches in each. Juwan Thompson (knee, ankle) also is active after being listed as questionable and will back up Anderson.


Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders good to go for MNF
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and wideout Emmanuel Sanders, who were listed as questionable, are active as expected for Monday night's game in Cincinnati. Manning is dealing with a thigh injury, while Sanders missed practice Saturday due to an illness.

Manning will have all his top targets available, as wideout Demaryius Thomas (ankle) and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) also are active after being listed as probable.

Denver is laying 3 or 3.5 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


Dolphins might move Dion Jordan to outside linebacker
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan got his first sack of the season Sunday against Minnesota. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told the Palm Beach Post the team needs more production from the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft and will consider moving him to outside linebacker next season.

"We have got to find ways to utilize him more," Coyle said.

Miami has a bigger need at outside linebacker than defensive end. Since returning from a six-game suspension to start the season, Jordan has played 34 percent of the defensive snaps. He has 16 tackles and a sack in nine games.


Rams CB E.J. Gaines going through concussion protocol
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:27 pm ET) Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines is doing better Monday, according to coach Jeff Fisher, and is going through the league's concussion protocol. Gaines took a knee to the helmet and had to be carted off the field during Sunday's loss to the Giants.

Chuck Pagano: We'll play to win, need to 'build some steam'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:18 pm ET) Colts coach Chuck Pagano told the Indianapolis Star his team will play to win Week 17 at Tennessee despite the fact Indy has little to gain in terms of playoff seeding. The Colts will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed and host a first-round game. They cannot earn a first-round bye.

Pagano said the Colts need to "build some steam" after being embarrassed 42-7 at Dallas on Sunday. Look for quarterback Andrew Luck, top wideout T.Y. Hilton and the rest of the Colts' starters to play until the game is decided.

Vegas sportsbooks installed Indy as a 6.5- or 7-point favorite.


 
 
 
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