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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
Cowboys QB Tony Romo makes history in Week 16 rout
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7:08 pm ET) Tony Romo completed 16 straight throws, tossed four touchdowns and became the Cowboys' all-time leading passer in the Week 16 blowout of the Colts. Romo finished 18 of 20 for 218 yards and posted his second four-touchdown game of the year.

On a 25-yard score to tight end Jason Witten in the third quarter, Romo passed Troy Aikman (32,942 passing yards) as the franchise's all-time leader. Romo is up to 32,971 passing yards in 37 fewer games.

Romo earlier hit Terrance Williams, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley for touchdowns, marking his seventh game this season with at least three scores. Romo added 28 yards on three carries.

His streak of 16 straight completions fell just shy of the career-high 17 in a row he completed in December 2012. Up to 32 touchdowns against 11 turnovers, Romo visits the Redskins in the regular-season finale.


Jets WRs Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley held in check
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:08 pm ET) The Jets wide receiver Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley combined for 75 receiving yards during Sunday's loss to New England in Week 17.

Decker took a step back with just two receptions for 21 yards on four targets. He has 64 receptions for 741 yards and four touchdowns this season. Kerley led the team in receiving with three catches on six targets for 54 yards in a 17-16 defeat. He has 37 receptions for 376 yards and a touchdown this season.

The Jets will end their 2014 campaign in Miami.


Rookie Albert Wilson has career-high five catches for 87 yards in loss
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:03 pm ET) Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson had five catches for 87 yards in Kansas City's loss to Pittsburgh Sunday.

It was Wilson's best game as a pro, putting up career highs in both receptions and receiving yards.

Wilson will look to build off of this game heading into Week 17 against the Chargers. 


Ravens K Justin Tucker does not attempt field goal in loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:59 pm ET) Ravens kicker Justin Tucker did not attempt a field goal during the Ravens’ 25-13 loss to the Texans Sunday.

It was the second time in the last three games Tucker has not attempted a field goal. Tucker made his only extra point attempt.

The Ravens host the Browns Week 17.


RB DeMarco Murray plays 30 snaps and scores Week 16
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, suiting up six days after undergoing hand surgery, played 30 snaps in Dallas' blowout of the Colts. Murray ran 22 times for 58 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Murray was limited by his surgically-repaired left hand. He primarily carried the ball with his right and was unable to use his stiff-arm. But he appeared to emerge unscathed.

Having locked up the NFC East, the Cowboys visit Washington in the regular-season finale. It's unclear how much Murray will play in that game.


Ravens WR Torrey Smith is lone bright spot in loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:55 pm ET) Ravens wideout Torrey Smith scored two touchdowns against the Texans Sunday, but it was not enough as the Ravens fell 25-13.

Smith was targeted 12 times and hauled in five receptions for 59 yards. The two touchdown receptions was the third multiple touchdown game of the season for Smith.

While Smith did set a new career high with his 10th touchdown catch, he still has not surpassed more than 100 receiving yards in a game this season.

The Ravens host the Browns Week 17.


Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles produces just 29 yards rushing
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:53 pm ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had just nine carries for 29 yards in Kansas City's loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. Charles also had five catches for 48 yards. 

With Kansas City down for most of the game, the Chiefs went away from the running game and threw a season-high 45 passes.

It is Charles second-lowest rushing total of the season. He also lost a fumble in the game. 

Charles is 21 yards away from passing 1,000 rushing on the year for the fifth time in his career.

He will get that chance in Week 17 against the Chargers. 


Bears DST does better against Lions
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:53 pm ET) After surrendering 34 points on 474 yards to the Lions in Week 13, the Bears stepped up their defensive game Week 16 against Detroit, allowing 20 points on 367 yards. They had four sacks and three takeaways (two interceptions and one fumble recovery), their most of either since Week 12 against Tampa Bay.

Though it was a big improvement for the Bears DST, the fact it had allowed an average of 35.3 points on 438.0 yards in its previous three games shows it's not a reliable unit in Fantasy. Granted, none of those was a particularly favorable matchup, but the way rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has played recently, neither is Week 17 at Minnesota.

You can probably do better than the Bears DST in standard 12-team leagues.


Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell each crack 60-yard mark Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:51 pm ET) With Julian Edelman sidelined with a concussion, Patriots wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell each contributed with 60-plus-yard performances in Sunday's win over the Jets in Week 16.

Amendola had a season-best eight catches for 63 yards on 11 targets. LaFell came down with seven of the 10 passes thrown his way for 64 yards in a 17-16 victory.

New England will close out the regular season at home against Buffalo.


Ravens RB Justin Forsett held to 19 rushing yards in loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:48 pm ET) Ravens running back Justin Forsett failed to get anything going on the ground during the Ravens’ 25-13 loss to the Texans Sunday.

Forsett was held to 19 rushing yards on 10 carries. The 19 rushing yards were a season low for Forsett. It was the third straight game Forsett failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. Forsett did catch all four of his receiving targets for 13 yards.

The Ravens host the Browns Week 17.


 
 
 
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