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Offseason Primers: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Head coach Greg Schiano's first season with the Buccaneers resulted in quite a few changes. The whole organization underwent a culture change with the hard-nosed, no-nonsense ex-Rutgers coach in charge.

The offense became more explosive and the defense shined against the run. But the losing records didn't change as the Bucs finished with a 7-9 record. While that seems like an improvement from their 4-12 record from a year prior, the team was in the playoff hunt after 10 games with a 6-4 record. They had a chance at a big jump and instead made a miniscule one.

2012 Touches Leaders
727 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Doug Martin 368 (319 car., 49 rec.) 50.6%
Vincent Jackson 72 rec. 9.9%
Mike Williams 63 rec. 8.6%
Dallas Clark 47 rec. 6.5%
LeGarrette Blount 42 (41 car., 1 rec.) 5.8%
All Others 135 18.6%

Two additions to the Buccaneers' roster helped make their offense quite formidable in 2012. The signing of receiver Vincent Jackson and the drafting of running back Doug Martin brought a ton of Fantasy relevance to the offense -- combined they accumulated 3,310 of the 5,820 total yards of offense the Bucs had, nearly 57 percent. Throw in receiver Mike Williams, who pretty much played like he was a brand new man, and that total jumps to nearly 74 percent. This trio proved to be formidable and functional against all opponents. There were only two times all year where all three of them failed to register even 10 Fantasy points: Week 3 at Dallas, Week 15 at New Orleans.

And it just so happens that those two weeks were Josh Freeman's worst of the year. The quarterback definitely took a step forward in terms of production, but a late season swoon hurt the Bucs' playoff chances. In his first 11 games, Freeman had seven interceptions; in his last five he had 10. He wasn't the sole reason why Tampa Bay didn't do better than seven wins (they lost the first three games in the skid by a total of 11 points) but he was a contributor.

The good news is that there aren't nearly as many changes happening in Tampa Bay as a year ago. All of the main principals of the offense and coaching staff remain the same and the defense has nowhere to go but up. Another infusion of young talent into the secondary along with potentially another pass rusher depending on free agency and the recovery from a torn ACL from defensive end Adrian Clayborn could push the Bucs defense into being quite good.

2012 Target Leaders
566 pass attempts
Vincent Jackson 147 26.0%
Mike Williams 127 22.4%
Dallas Clark 76 13.4%
Doug Martin 71 12.5%
Tiquan Underwood 56 9.9%
All Others 89 15.8%

In a division where points are not hard to come by, anything would help.

Mike Williams -- Draft Day value

A total of 20 players finished with over 1,000 receiving yards last year. Of those 20, nine of them also scored nine or more touchdowns. Williams was four yards shy from being the 10th. The combination of getting in shape and working as the No. 2 receiver in a more aggressive, more threatening offense worked wonders for Williams. Carrying over his 2012 results into 2013 will pay off not just for Fantasy owners and the Bucs, but for Williams as well since he'll be set for free agency after the season. Suddenly, motivation really isn't a big issue for Williams. He'll need a hand from his quarterback much like he had for most of last year but at a very nice price in Fantasy drafts in Round 7 or 8, Williams should be a target as a great No. 3 receiver or flex (and just maybe a good enough No. 2 receiver).

Josh Freeman -- Late-round flier

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Josh Freeman Late-round pick
Doug Martin Top 10 pick
LeGarrette Blount Undrafted
Vincent Jackson 30-40 overall
Mike Williams 75-85 overall
Dallas Clark Undrafted
Connor Barth Late-round pick
Buccaneers DST Undrafted

Quarterbacks will be plentiful in drafts this summer so unless you're in a league that starts two quarterbacks you won't have Freeman on your radar. Not at first, anyway. But whether you feel like you need a second signal caller or just like investing late picks in possible sleepers, Freeman should crawl back into your life. He nearly finished last season as a Top 12 quarterback and that's with him melting down like a creamsicle on a hot summer day. Then, he was playing behind a tired and banged up offensive line and was way off the mark. But before that we saw Freeman post six straight games with at least two touchdowns and at least 20 Fantasy points per game, proving that he can make up some numbers thanks to the weapons around him. He'll need to do it if he's going to help the Bucs and himself as he attempts to pull a Joe Flacco and push his team to incredible heights in a contract year. You could do worse with a late-round pick.

Luke Stocker -- Unlikely sleeper

Since drafting Stocker the Buccaneers have gone through two veteran tight ends. Stocker was the backup to Kellen Winslow and Dallas Clark, picking up less than 20 catches in each of the two years with his first touchdown coming in 2012. Now it looks like Stocker's primary competition for playing time will be Tom Crabtree, who signed with the Bucs this offseason. But Crabtree isn't known for his receiving prowess whereas Stocker does have some ability to catch the ball. This is clearly a longshot, but if Stocker can somehow weave his way into regular playing time then he could develop into someone worth taking late in deeper drafts. After all, Clark managed to pick up more targets than Doug Martin in the pass game last year. This may not be the best recommendation, but any potential playmaker the Bucs add to the combo platter of Martin, Jackson and Williams could deliver.

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

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Player News
Cowboys QB Tony Romo intends to practice more
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he plans to ramp up his level of activity during training camp, planning to practice for three days in a row at times, per the Dallas Morning-News

Romo, who has battled back issues for the last several seasons, did not practice in more than consecutive days last training camp. 

"I think we'll practice more this year than we did last year, but at the same time it's not out of the realm to go two-and-one sometimes (two days on, one off) and I think the plan is we'll have some where we go three in a row," Romo said. "We'll see how it goes."


Report: WR James Jones to sign with Giants
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Veteran wide receiver James Jones , who was released earlier in the year by the Raiders, will sign a one-year deal with the Giants , per NFL.com. 

Jones fielded offers from the Eagles, Chiefs, Seahawks and Bengals, but decided to sign with the Giants due to his relationship with New York offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, per the report. 

Jones had 73 receptions for 666 yards and six touchdowns last season. 


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson charged with resisting arrest
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Less than two weeks after being suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was charged with resisting arrest and child endangerment in Missouri on Wednesday, per NFL.com.

Richardson was clocked driving as high as 143 miles per hour in mid-July with a 12-year-old in the back seat. According to the police report, Richardson turned off his headlights in an attempt to evade the police and lost control of his car at times. Police found a fully-loaded semi-automatic weapon under the seat once the stop was made. 

"We are aware of the situation and are gathering information," the Jets said in a statement. "This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comment at this time."


Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in camp, 'frustrated' with deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson did indeed report to the start of training camp Wednesday, but remains "frustrated" with his contract status, per ESPN.com. 

"It is a little frustrating, but at the end of the day I am happy to be out here with my teammates and get the season going," Wilkerson said. 

The veteran is seeking a big-money, long-term contract, and hopes to work out a new deal with the Jets before the start of the season. If not, he will make $6.97 million and become a free agent - at which point, the Jets could apply the franchise tag. 

Wilkerson has racked up 16 sacks over the past two seasons. 


Bengals place Rey Maualuga on injury list
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) The Bengals placed linebacker Rey Maualuga on the non-football injury list, the team announced on Thursday. 

The team didn't release details on the nature of Maualuga's injury. He can be activated from the list whenever he's medically cleared to play. 


Report: Bengals reacquire WR Greg Little
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) Wide receiver Greg Little has signed a one-year deal with the Bengals, a source has told Pro Football Talk.

Little, who was cut by Cincinnati in late February, caught just six passes for 69 yards last season after a disappointing three-year stint with Cleveland.


Titans place NT Sammie Lee Hill on PUP list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) Titans nose tackle Sammie Lee Hill is set to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, per The Tennesseean. He hurt his knee in the offseason.

Hill can be cleared to practice at any point.


Bills place Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Dan Carpenter on injury list
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) The Bills placed DE Mario Williams, DB Leodis McKelvin and K Dan Carpenter on the non-football injury list, the team announced on Thursday. 

All three players can return from the list at any time, once they are medically cleared to play. The team didn't release any details on their injuries. 


Veteran LB Keith Rivers retires after signing with Cowboys
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) Four months after signing with the Cowboys, veteran linebacker Keith Rivers has announced his retirement.

Rivers, who played with three different teams over the last four seasons, managed just 16 tackles in 12 games for Buffalo in 2014. Several injuries derailed his career after he had been selected in the first round by Cincinnati in 2008.


Falcons' Lamar Holmes on crutches, placed on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) Falcons tackle Lamar Holmes arrived at training camp Thursday morning on crutches and with his right foot in a protective boot. 

Holmes is recovering from a broken foot and clearly doesn't appear ready to start practicing with the team when camp opens on Friday. 

Holmes will open camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The team placed him on PUP Thursday afternoon.


 
 
 
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