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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
Jets C Nick Mangold carted off with apparent leg injury
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:59 pm ET) Jets center Nick Mangold was carted off the field with an apparent left leg injury during the second quarter of Sunday's contest against New England. Mangold went down after being rolled up by Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. He was unable to put any weight on his leg, and was taken back to the locker room on a cart.

The Jets will likely provide an update on the extent of his injury in the near future.


Texans RG Brandon Brooks leaves game with ankle injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) Texans guard Brandon Brooks suffered a left ankle injury and had to leave Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

The team reported his return is questionable. Offensive lineman  Derek Newton replaced Brooks at right guard.


Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster leaves with Achilles injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster injured his Achilles tendon and is questionable to return to Sunday's game against the Packers.

Foster injured the tendon in the first half of the game and was able to walk off under his own power. 


Texans QB Case Keenum gets start Sunday vs. Ravens
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) Which quarterback would start Sunday for the Texans was answered when Case Keenum took the field with the starters to open Sunday’s game against the Ravens. 

Keenum was competing with quarterback Thad Lewis for the starting role after quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick were lost for the season and Tom Savage was ruled out with a knee injury.


Browns QB Manziel terrible in practice before first start
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel performed as badly in practice before his Week 15 start against Cincinnati as he did in his starting debut, soures have told CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Those sources claim that the same uncertainty and erratic play in the pocket, as well as poor footwork and questionable decision-making that he displayed in the game were evident in Manziel leading up to it. He also appeared nervous and unconfident throughout the week.

It has also been reported that Manziel completed about 40 percent of his passes in practice heading into the game against the Bengals. The vain hope was that the spotlight Sunday would bring out the best in him, but he was miserable. He completed just 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. A third pick was negated by penalty and a fourth dropped.

La Canfora is further reporting that the Browns are taking a conservative approach to Manziel in Week 16 at Carolina. Mike Pettine has stated that even if he performs well the last two weeks, he will not have locked down a starting job in 2015. And if he continues to struggle, the Browns will most assuredly be looking for another starter for next season. They could even give up their two first round picks and more to snag Oregon standout Marcus Mariota.


Three injured Browns placed among Sunday inactives
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:17 pm ET) The battered Browns list three injured players on their inactive list for their Sunday game at Carolina, including Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder). Also hurt and out are fellow corner K'Waun Williams (hamstring) and tight end Gary Barnidge (rib).

The healthy scratches are wideout Rodney Smith , running back Glenn Winston and offensive linemen Vinston Painter and Andrew McDonald.


Patriots' Shane Vereen, Brandon LaFell ready to roll Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Patriots running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder) were officially ruled active for Sunday's divisional clash against the Jets. Both players entered the week as questionable to to injuries.

New England is a 9 1/2-point favorite on the road against New York.


Browns give WR Hawkins green light for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:12 pm ET) The Browns have cleared wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (illness) for the Sunday game against the Panthers. He had been dealing with an illness that had him designated as probable.

Two of three Browns questionables fine for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:11 pm ET) Cornerback Joe Haden is the lone key questionable ruled out by the Browns for their Sunday game at Carolina. Linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) returns after missing the last four games. Also given the green light is fellow linebacker Jabaal Sheard (foot).

Falcons give William Moore the green light
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:09 pm ET) The Falcons have officially listed safety William Moore (foot) active for Sunday's divisional clash against the Saints in Week 16. Moore entered the game as questionable due to a foot injury. He has 23 total tackles and two forced fumbles through six games played.

The Falcons are a 6-point road underdog at New Orleans.


 
 
 
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