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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
Josh McCown downgraded to out Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:20 pm ET) Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown has been downgraded to out Thursday against the Falcons.

McCown injured his thumb while hitting his hand on a helmet as he threw the ball. He was initially ruled questionable, but was downgraded to out following halftime. 


Devin Hester heads to locker room early
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(10:01 pm ET) Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester went to the locker room before half time Thursday.

Hester appeared to have trouble getting off the line while running a route. He was taken back to the locker room before the end of the second quarter. He's considered questionable due to cramping. 


Harry Douglas questionable to return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:51 pm ET) Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas is questionable to return Thursday against the Buccaneers. 

Douglas injured his foot in the second quarter. He was taken to the locker room by trainers shortly after the injury. He is considered questionable to return. 


Josh McCown questionable to return Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown is questionable to return Thursday against the Falcons.

McCown injured his thumb on a throw in the second quarter. He was taken back to the locker room before half time where it was determined he was questionable to return. 


Devin Hester breaks record for most returns
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:38 pm ET) Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester broke Deion Sanders' record for most return touchdowns Thursday against the Buccaneers.

With a little over seven minutes left in the second quarter, Hester ran back a 62 yard punt for the 20th return touchdown of his career. Hester also scored earlier in the game on a rushing attempt. 


Shaun Hill likely to be a game-time decision
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:40 pm ET) Rams quarterback Shaun Hill will likely be a game-time decision Week 3, according to ESPN.

Hill was able to get through limited practice Thursday, but it's unclear if he'll play Sunday. Head coach Jeff Fisher said Hill would likely be a game-time decision. "He did more, but we're still day to day," Fisher said. "It will most likely be a pre-game decision like it was last week."


Adrian Peterson could discuss plea deal prior to court date
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:54 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could discuss a plea deal prior to his October 8 court date, according to CBSSports.com Football Insider Jason LaCanfora. 

If that were the case, it's unclear how it would impact Peterson's availability. The Vikings have said Peterson would not return until his legal issues have been resolved, but the NFL can still opt to punish Peterson based on the findings from his case. As LaCanfora notes, if the case goes to trial, it could take months before it's resolved. 


Tavon Austin sits again Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:42 pm ET) Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin did not practice Thursday.

Austin is dealing with a knee injury. He sat out of Wednesday's practice due to the issue. His outlook for Week 3 will be determined based on whether he can practice Friday.


Andre Ellington limited Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Cardinals running back Andre Ellington was limited in practice Thursday.

That's a positive sign for Ellington. The running back had been limited to Friday practices the past few weeks due to a foot injury. Ellington has been able to play through the issue, so this is possibly a sign he's improving. 


Carson Palmer still limited Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:35 pm ET) Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was still limited in practice Thursday.

Palmer is dealing with a shoulder injury. He did not play Week 2 due to the issue, and was limited in practice Wednesday.


 
 
 
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