Fantasy Breakout on Tap for Freeman?

Last season, six NFL quarterbacks threw for at least 4,500 yards, and five tossed at least 30 touchdown passes.  Four did both: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.

That’s the inner circle of quarterback elite that at least one NFL fantasy expert sees Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman entering in 2013.  Setting aside for the moment what sort of stress that would create for NFC South defenses – Brees and Ryan aren’t going anywhere, statistically, and Cam Newton can be scary, too – that would make Freeman a potential steal, and a big one, in your fantasy draft. Continue reading

Early Fantasy Rankings for Bucs’ Stars

The lead in to fantasy football drafts, most of which are held in mid to late-August, is nearly as extensive as that for the real NFL Draft.  In both cases, countless mock drafts are performed and perceived player rankings are constantly tweaked.  Fantasy draft boards, however, are a bit more stable over the last few months leading up to selection time, because there is less going on that changes a player’s value.  Barring injury, fantasy football analysts are going to perceive the likes of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Doug Martin about the same in late May as they do in early August.

Thus, it’s instructive to see where some of the Buccaneers’ potential offensive stars are landing in the player rankings that are starting to populate the web.  In general, you’ll find three Tampa Bay players among the top 100 rankings: RB Doug Martin and WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.  The chart below shows where each of those three is ranked across 11 different expert lists: Continue reading

Fantasy Values Soar for Martin, Jackson

If you’re a multi-sport fantasy player, then you’re probably smack dab in the middle of baseball draft season right now.  Even so, it’s never too early to start thinking about fantasy football.

Fantasy football analysis won’t pick up in earnest until after the NFL Draft and the majority of the free agency period, when potential team rosters are more clear and fantasy baseball has settled into a groove.  Still, a variety of on-line experts have posted early editions of football player rankings for 2013, and this much is already clear: You’re going to have to pay more for your favorite Buccaneers this season. Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: What Should I Do with Vincent Jackson in a Keeper League?

Fantasy football keeper leagues come in all different shapes and sizes. But for this exercise, let’s assume the most popular version. If you keep a player, you give up your pick in the round in which you originally drafted him.

Simple enough. If you drafted Vincent Jackson in Round Five of the 2012 draft, then you give up your 2013 Round Five pick. So… is it worth it?

This season, in standard leagues, Vincent Jackson ranks fourth among wide receivers. His yardage output has him ranked fifth in the NFL, while his eight touchdowns are tied for ninth. At nearly 12 fantasy points per game, he is absolutely one of the heavy hitters in fantasy leagues across the nation. Heck, with the season he’s having, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him ranked in Fantasy Premier leagues as well. Continue reading

Freeman, Barth Among Fantasy “Starts of the Week”

Each week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Michael Fabiano provides fantasy football players with a very useful “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” rundown, highlighting the best matchups at each position for that week.  This week, as many fantasy owners head into the semi-finals of their playoffs, the Buccaneers-Saints game in New Orleans is going to draw a lot of eyeballs.

Fabiano breaks down his “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” advice into the six typical fantasy lineup categories – quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker and defense – and he leads each of those segments with one “Start of the Week.”  This weekend, half of those highlighted starts come from the Bucs-Saints tilt.

Tampa Bay Josh Freeman is Fabiano’s “Start of the Week” at quarterback, a nod to the Saints’ troubles on defense and Freeman’s 420-yard performance against them in Week Seven.  For similar reasons, Fabiano likes the Buccaneers’ Connor Barth at kicker, and he calls Barth a “top-notch” fantasy option at his position this season.

The Saints get in a “Start of the Week,” too, which isn’t surprising given that the first meeting between these two teams was a wild shootout featuring nearly 1,000 yards of combined offense.  New Orleans’ Marques Colston is his top choice at wide receiver, which is a bolder pick given that Colston has not been a highly productive fantasy receiver in recent weeks.

Check out all of Fabiano’s “Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em” advice to see where other Buccaneers and Saints rank in Week 15.  Hint: Check out the “sleeper” category at the tight end position.

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Will Bucs Defense Be a Hit or a Miss vs. the Eagles?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had unexpected fantasy success at each of their offensive positions. Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Connor Barth and Mike Williams have all come alive since the bye week and all currently sit at a higher fantasy point ranking than they were predicted during drafts. And within the last five weeks, tight end Dallas Clark has made his emergence as well, making his way onto fantasy teams by way of three touchdowns in his last four games.

The only fantasy football position that has been unreliable this year out of Tampa Bay has been the defense. In terms of fantasy points, that crew has been all over the board: four games of 12 or more points; five games of two or fewer. Their highest-scoring performance of the year came in Week 10 against the San Diego Chargers at home when they put up 17 points. In the three games since: a total of seven points.

It is certainly not a trustworthy play this week, but looking at the Buccaneers this season and looking at their Week 14 opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, might make them a solid sleeper play if you are in a pinch. Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Who Should Stay in my Keeper League, Dougernaut or RGIII?

There are a number of ways fantasy football keeper leagues can be run. In some, you keep as many players as you like from one year to the next. In others you can keep, say, three players, but only if they were drafted after Round Four. Et cetera.  For the purposes of this exercise, however, let’s assume you are allowed to keep one player but it will cost you your pick in the round you originally drafted him. For instance, if you want to keep a wide receiver that you drafted in round seven, then in next season’s draft, you will not have a pick in Round Seven. Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Can We Consider Dallas Clark a Fantasy Starter?

Sunday will mark an interesting reunion between two former Indianapolis Colts teammates. Now, playing for different teams, Dallas Clark of the Buccaneers will be facing Peyton Manning of the Broncos for the first time ever.

The duo played pitch-and-catch in Indy for eight years. In that timeframe Clark caught 393 passes for 4,535 yards and 44 touchdowns. From 2007-2009, the heyday of the pair, Clark had 235 catches for 2,507 yards and 27 touchdowns, solidifying him as a must-own fantasy tight end.

So far this season, Clark has not had the fantasy football numbers that he is seen in the past, as he has made a return from two injury-marred seasons. But in recent weeks he has been showing signs of life as the Tampa Bay Buccaneer offense continues to thrive. On the year, Clark has 31 receptions on 45 targets; 11 of those receptions and 15 of his targets have come in just the last two games while he has scored twice in his last three outings.

With defenses planning heavy to stop Doug Martin’s impressive running game, while paying equal mind to the Buccaneers’ receivers that have compiled a league-leading number of receptions of 40+ yards, Dallas Clark has snuck his way into sleeper status in the last two weeks. Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Where Would Josh Freeman Fall in Fantasy Redraft?

We’ve already taken a look at Buccaneer running back Doug Martin and where he would fall if we were to have a midseason fantasy football repack. But he isn’t the only surprise to rocket out of Tampa Bay this season. Quarterback Josh Freeman has certainly turned some heads as well. While Freeman is still far from being considered a consistent fantasy football elite like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady, he has been making quite a splash in some leagues.

At the beginning of the season, Freeman average draft position was around 125, the 13th round in 10-team leagues. Fantasy owners were a bit scared to pull the trigger, not knowing if they would get the impressive Josh Freeman of 2010 or the underwhelming fantasy numbers of Josh Freeman, version 2011. And in the first four weeks of football this year, Freeman looked a bit more like that latter.

In those first four game, all before the Buccaneer bye week, Freeman averaged 10.25 fantasy points per week. His best fantasy performance, in Week Four, was still only enough to get him to 19th in points for quarterbacks that week.

Since the bye week, Freeman has only fallen out of the top 10 QB performers once. He had three consecutive weeks scoring 20 or more fantasy points. In Week Seven, he was the highest fantasy scoring quarterback in the NFL. In the four games before the bye, he had 42 points. In the five since, he has 107.

After ranking in the twenties after the first four weeks, Freeman’s recent Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Can Bucs D Stop Panthers Running Game Again?

We all know the story. In Week One, the Buccaneers held Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and the rest of the Carolina running attack to 10 yards. The Panthers ran 13 times all game, including Newton’s scrambles, which comes out to just .8 yards per carry. Carolina’s leading rusher was a wide receiver, Kealoha Pilares.

Can we expect another 10-yarder? It’s unlikely. Since Week One, the Carolina Panthers have jumped to 15th in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 109. They have gotten Jonathan Stewart back, who missed the first game due to injury, and both Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams have gotten their feet beneath them. The trio has accumulated 873 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns this season.

But the matchup makes a strong case for another dominant run-stopping Buccaneers performance. Continue reading