Many fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also enjoy the world of fantasy football. Where the two intersect is a territory that can be particularly entertaining for Buccaneer rooters. Here we begin a regular feature looking at the ways in which recent developments on the gridiron for Tampa Bay may affect the fantasy game.
This week’s notes:
1. Solid Line?
We start by acknowledging the elephant in the room:
Joseph is obviously very good at his job. He went to the Pro Bowl for a second time last year, and in the months that followed the Bucs added his 2012 Pro Bowl teammate, former Saint
All of those plans will go on, even if they have to do so without Joseph this year. There is still a lot of talent on the Bucs’ offensive line, and the duo of
But will Joseph’s absence be enough of a problem for Martin and Blount that it should hurt their draft stock? It says here: No. Blount averaged 4.6 yards per carry over his first two Tampa Bay seasons, and that was with just one Pro Bowl guard in front of him. He still has that in Nicks, who many considered the best guard in all of football last year. It would be a stretch to declare that Tampa Bay’s O-Line will definitely be as good without Joseph as it would have been with him, but it will still be very good.
For his part, Martin has already displayed an array of impressive moves, the kind that allow a running back to get yards even when faced with less than ideal holes up front. The proof will be on the field when the regular season begins in two weeks, but for now it could be a mistake to downgrade one of your Buccaneer targets in fantasy football and risk missing out on him.
2. A Return to Fantasy Relevance?
From 1997 through 2008, Tampa Bay had the most consistently effective defense in the NFL, ranking among the NFL’s top 10 at the end of 12 of those 13 years, including eight top-five finishes. In the best years in that range (1999, 2002 and 2005 come to mind), the Bucs were also an excellent team-defense pick for fantasy football players. That has been less true in recent years as the team has gone through a very thorough transition from the Derrick Brooks-John Lynch-Simeon Rice-Warren Sapp era (well, thorough with the exception of
That’s not going to change in your drafts this year. So far in the Yahoo fantasy leagues, the Bucs are second-to-last in average draft position for the defenses, just ahead of Indianapolis. Of course, it’s essentially a 12-20 team tie for that position, because most leagues have just 10-12 drafters and most of them take only one team defense. The other defenses are just going undrafted in most instances, but there are plenty of fantasy players who “stream” defenses from week to week and will be constantly looking for the best matchups.
The question is, will the Bucs’ defense be an attractive play at some point this year? It’s far too early to tell, of course, but there have been encouraging signs in the preseason. Over the last two games, Tampa Bay’s first-team defense has forced nine three-and-outs in 12 possessions against the starters for Tennessee and New England. The Bucs are working on a whole new defense under Schiano and coordinator Bill Sheridan, and it looks like they will have new starters in about six of their 11 positions. That includes two rookies in strong safety
You can obviously take a wait-and-see attitude on how good the Bucs’ defense will be this year. If the early results are good, you might want to target matchups against Washington in Week Four (rookie quarterback), Kansas City in Week Six (27th-ranked offense in 2011, Bucs coming off a bye week) or Minnesota in Week Eight (if the Adrian Peterson comeback isn’t strong). Unfortunately, there are a lot of very good offenses on the rest of the Bucs’ schedule, but if the defense manages to be really good, the Bucs will play the St. Louis Rams in Week 16, which is championship week in most leagues. That could be a matchup worth playing.
3. Quest for Sleepers
Unfortunately, if you’re still obsessively preparing for a fantasy draft or two, the fourth week of the preseason isn’t going to provide you with much new evidence of use. Most teams will play their starters only sparingly, if at all, and it will be hard to glean anything particularly solid out of reserves playing reserves. It’s a very useful game for NFL coaches, who are looking for ways to make the final separations on their depth charts before the roster cutdown to 53 players, but you’re not going to find the answer to whether you should draft
You just might get a glimpse of a sleeper or two, though. For instance, it’s not entirely clear who is third on the Buccaneers’ receiver depth chart after Jackson and