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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
Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:34 pm ET) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:04 pm ET) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:45 pm ET) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:18 pm ET) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:32 pm ET) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


Sheldon Richardson not at Jets' OTAs because 'I have a life'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson is skipping the team's OTAs this week, a decision that earned him criticism from fans and media. 

Richardson's explanation isn't likely to win anyone over. 

Richardson went on Twitter and told fans he missed the workouts because, "I have a life outside of football."

"I chose to enjoy my family a little longer," he continued. "So to (you) fans that know everything, please worry 'bout yourself."

Richardson pointed out in another tweet that he "jus' wasn't at practice," but that he was still "putting in work tho'"


 
 
 
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