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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 receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


 
 
 
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