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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
Redskins TE Niles Paul able to practice Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Redskins tight end Niles Paul, who suffered a concussion Week 4 against the Giants, returned to practice Thursday. The Redskins are preparing to play the Seahawks on Monday night.

Texans' Arian Foster indicates he will likely be game-time decision
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:14 pm ET) Texans running back Arian Foster (hamstring) indicated Thursday he will likely be a game-time decision again Week 5 at Dallas, according to The Houston Chronicle.

"I'm just going to go out there every day and see how it feels," Foster said of his hamstring injury. "If it feels good enough to play, I'll suit up."


Roger Goodell appoints former U.S. District judge to hear Ray Rice appeal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:09 pm ET) It was announced Thursday NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has appointed former United States District Judge Barbara S. Jones to hear and decide the appeal filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of former Ravens running back Ray Rice, who has been suspended indefinitely for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

"We are grateful to Judge Jones for taking on this role," Goodell said. "She will have our full cooperation as she hears and decides this appeal."


Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) needs surgery, ruled out Week 5
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:01 pm ET) Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Thursday wide receiver Donnie Avery (groin) will have surgery Friday and miss Sunday's game at San Francisco, according to the team's official website.

Pettine: Ben Tate 'on course to play' Week 5
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:58 pm ET) Browns coach Mike Pettine said Thursday running back Ben Tate is "on course to play" Week 5 at Tennessee. Tate, who has missed the last two games due to a knee injury, was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday.

Rams QB Shaun Hill understanding about benching
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:57 pm ET) Rams now-backup quarterback Shaun Hill has expressed frustration, but understanding, over his loss of the starting position to Austin Davis.

Hill played the first half in the season opener against Minnesota before injuring his calf. Davis took over the job and ran away it it. Jeff Fisher announced Wednesday that Davis would continue starting after previously insisting that Hill would not be ousted due to injury. Hill has returned to health, but will be carrying the clipboard on Sundays.

"It's frustrating but you take a step back and think about it, it's not about me, it's about the team," Hill told ESPN. "It's a tough league for tough minded people and I put myself in that category."


Report: Bears RB Jonathan Stewart not in pads Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:46 pm ET) Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart is apparently not ready to roll fully as the team prepares to host Chicago on Sunday. He was not in pads for Thursday practice, per ESPN.

Stewart had been sidelined with a knee injury and is considered questionable for the Week 5 game.


Redskins TE Niles Paul expected to play Monday night
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:40 pm ET) Niles Paul will play Monday night against Seattle if fellow Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen is correct. The latter told ESPN that he has "100 percent confidence that Niles is going to be ready for the game."

Paul, who was removed from the Week 4 clash with a concussion, has been one of the pleasant surprises of the NFL season. He has 21 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown. He has racked up more catches and yards in four games than he did in his first three years combined.


Cowboys DB C.J. Spillman still practicing despite allegations
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Cowboys defensive back and special teams player C.J. Spillman will be allowed to continue practicing with the team while Texas police investigate sexual assault allegations made against him, USA Today has reported.

Jason Garrett said thursday that  Spillman's status with the Cowboys will remain unchanged unless is his arrested or formally charged.

Spillman has participated in all four games and contributed one tackle.


Bills DL Kyle Williams sits out practice again Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:24 pm ET) Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams sat out practice again Thursday due to a knee injury suffered Week 4. After missing another practice, Williams' status for Week 5 against the Lions could be in jeopardy.

 
 
 
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