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.
With OTA/mini-camp season drawing to a close and fantasy football talk about to fill in the void, the gang of analysts on NFL.com have started pumping out predictions. Here, for instance, you’ll find six experts – Michael Fabiano, Dave Dameshek, Jason Smith, Marcas Grant, Elliot Harrison and Adam Rank – weighing on the best bets for “breakout” players in 2013. Buc fans will want to go directly to Smith’s tab to see his thoughts on Freeman.
Predicting a “contract-year” push and noting Freeman’s under-the-radar totals of 4,065 yards and 27 TDs last season, Smith puts the Bucs’ passer in the 4,500-4,800 range in yards and the 32-36 range in touchdowns. For comparison’s sake, that’s essentially what Ryan did for the Falcons last season. More from Smith:
“… this is going to be a huge season for Freeman. He knows it’s a tell-tale season for him with Mike Glennon breathing down his neck. Freeman threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 TDs last year, so his talent has never been in question. It was more about being consistent, as he was either great or awful, fantasy-wise in 2012. So far this off-season he’s drawing raves from the coaching staff for his accuracy and focus.”
Some of the analysts’ breakout picks are pretty predictable. Five of the six put Cleveland RB Trent Richardson in that category, and five of the six think the same about Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck. Four tab Buffalo RB C.J. Spiller, though some could argue his real breakout came last season. Green Bay’s Randall Cobb and Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph are popular picks as well.
But Freeman is the prediction that is going to interest Buccaneer fans. He obviously showed his potential to pile up the numbers last year, and in 2010 he had that amazing 25-6 TD-INT ratio. Put last year’s prolific production together with the consistency of that 2010 performance, and you would indeed have a star, in terms of both the NFL playoff race and your own fantasy football leagues.