What can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.
Inside the Locker Room
with Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times
Which Josh Freeman can fantasy owners expect to draft? The one who threw 25 TDs and six INTs in 2010 or the one who tossed only 16 TDs and 22 INTs last season?
Josh Freeman has rededicated himself this season, having lost 15-to-20 pounds from his powerful 6'6" frame. Freeman’s weight loss has been overshadowed by what he gained in weapons. For the first time in his career, he has a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Chargers free agent Vincent Jackson. The Bucs also signed Saints free agent guard Carl Nicks and moved Jeremy Zuttah to center. Receiver Mike Williams should function better with coverage rolling to Jackson’s side. Freeman has to break his reliance on Kellen Winslow, who was shipped to Seattle for a seventh rounder. In his place is heady vet Dallas Clark. Freeman also has a back to check the ball down to in first-round pick Doug Martin. Remember, as bad as Freeman was, he set career marks in yards and completion percentage.
What sort of timeshare can owners expect from the Doug Martin-LeGarrette Blount backfield duo?
There’s a good reason the Bucs drafted Martin. In addition to adding some depth at the position, Martin is viewed by new coach Greg Schiano as an every-down back, meaning he can run, catch and protect. Blount was one-dimensional at best. Blount will be used in four-minute situations, when the Bucs want to pound the ball. Martin will do almost everything else and should be the much more enticing fantasy option on draft day.
Athlon's Best Bets
Sleeper: Mike Williams, WR
Deep-Sleeper: Arrelious Benn, WR
Overvalued: Vincent Jackson, WR
Top Rookie: Doug Martin, RB
Bounce-Back: Josh Freeman, QB
Top IDP: Mason Foster, LB
2012 Draft Class
Fantasy Impact: New coach Greg Schiano wants to build the offense around a powerful rushing attack, so it was no surprise when he selected Doug Martin to pair with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield. Blount has started the last two years for the Buccaneers, but Martin is expected to lead the team in carries and yards this season. Michael Smith brings a different dimension to the backfield and will see carries as a change-of-pace threat. Lavonte David and Mark Barron are two impact defensive acquisitions and should be monitored in IDP leagues.
Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (PHI, at NO, STL)
Tampa Bay ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring offense and last in scoring defense last season. No offensive players were top-12 fantasy players at their position. Playing the Eagles and Saints in the fantasy playoffs means playing catch-up, so there should be some production. St. Louis was equally bad — 32nd scoring offense, 26th scoring defense. The fantasy title game is a wild card.
Dominate Your Fantasy Football League! Click here for the ultimate online resource for mock drafts, positional rankings, Athlon's Top 250 and more.
You can order your award-winning Athlon Sports NFL Fantasy Football preview magazine here.