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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
Giants WR Victor Cruz still struggling with calf ailment
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) The calf injury that has slowed the comeback of Giants standout wideout Victor Cruz has become a major concern, according to the New York Daily News.

Cruz, who is coming off knee surgery, has not been cleared to practice this week. It remains to be seen if his availability for the start of the regular season is threatened.

He has been sidelined since Aug. 17 and has yet to play in a preseason game. He appears unlikely to participate in the exhibition finale Thursday night at New England.


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Jennings played in all 16 games for the Bears last season, recording 50 tackles and a forced fumble.


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(8/30/2015) Members of the Redskins front office and coaching staff want the Robert Griffin III era in Washington to be over, but are being met with resistance from team ownership, according to ESPN.com.

Griffin is out with concussion-like symptoms and quarterback Kirk Cousins has already been tabbed the starter for Week 1 against the Dolphins.

Washington has had trade discussions involving Griffin with other teams, but have not received much interest in return.

Griffin was the second-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He was named the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year after a dynamic season in which he amassed over 4,000 yards of offense and scored a combined 27 touchdowns.


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by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(8/30/2015) With rookie running back Duke Johnson dealing with a concussion, Browns coach Mike Pettine didn't rule out signing veteran back Ray Rice to help the team's backfield situation, per Cleveland.com. 

Johnson has no timetable for his return, so Pettine, on a conference call, said "if we have to add a back, we'll look at the list of guys that are available," when asked about reaching out to Rice. 

Rice has not played since 2013, missing all of last season while under suspension for a domestic violence incident with his wife. The Ravens terminated his contract after the issue. 


Jets DT Leonard Williams dealing with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams had to leave Saturday's preseason game after sustaining a knee injury, reports the Associated Press. An MRI revealed a muscle strain behind the knee, which is not expected to be a long-term issue

Williams was the team's first-round draft pick in 2015.


Dolphins center Mike Pouncey to undergo MRI on knee
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) After leaving Saturday's preseason game with a knee injury, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is set to undergo an MRI on Sunday, reports the Palm Beach Post.

"I thought I was OK and I wanted to go back out there and test it out," Pouncey said. "Then I realized I couldn't play."

Despite sustaining the injury which prevented him from playing the rest of the game, Pouncey was not worried about the issue.

"I'm not too concerned about it," Pouncey said. "I'll be back in practice next week. I ain't missing a game, so y'all don't need to worry about that. Don't worry. I'm playing. We've got a big season ahead of us. We're all looking forward to it and I ain't going to miss a moment of it."


Packers' Randall Cobb not worried about shoulder injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) Despite leaving Saturday's preseason game with a shoulder injury, Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb said he's not concerned with any long-term issues with the injury, reports the team's official website.

"I don't think it will be [a long-term thing]," Cobb said. "We're just taking it day by day right now. We'll find out more [Sunday]."


Browns RB Duke Johnson dealing with concussion
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) Browns running back Duke Johnson had to exit Saturday's preseason game after suffering a concussion, reports Cleveland.com. It was Johnson's first preseason game after dealing with a hamstring injury.

"Hopefully he'll be in the protocol and we can get him back as soon as possible," coach Mike Pettine said. "If you had to say the biggest downer of the night, that would be it."


Rams RB Tre Mason suffers strained hamstring
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/30/2015) Rams running back Tre Mason sustained a hamstring strain during Saturday's preseason game, reports BleacherReport.com.

Mason was able to walk out of the locker room on Saturday without any issues and the team expects him to be ready for the season opener.


Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) out of Saturday game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2015) With premier wideout Jordy Nelson already out for the season, the Packers must now sweat out the health of fellow top receiver Randall Cobb, who was taken to the locker room Saturday with a shoulder injury.

The Packers can ill-afford to lose Cobb, who caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

The team has yet to reveal the specifics of the injury.


 
 
 
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