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Buccaneers Fantasy Corner: Week 12

Posted Nov 23, 2013

The Buccaneers have been climbing up the fantasy football ladder in recent weeks and look to continue the trend of turning heads this week in Detroit

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rookie QB Mike Glennon has developed into a very consistent fantasy scorer in short order
  • WRs Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson could be big scorers this week, though Johnson must contend with Darrelle Revis
  • RB Bobby Rainey faces a tough run defense but should get plenty of opportunities
Let’s begin by taking a moment to give credit where credit is due. It has been hard to find a quarterback as consistent in fantasy football as Mike Glennon has been since taking over as a starter for the Buccaneers.

Since Week 6, a week after his bye, Mike Glennon has averaged 14.8 fantasy points per game, notching at least 15 points in all but one game. That average would rank him 14th among fantasy quarterbacks this season. In that time span, he has nine touchdown passes to just two interceptions. None of his games have been fantasy breakouts, but there is something be said about knowing you can expect a nearly guaranteed 15 points from a position, rather than a boom or bust as we often see around the league.

This week, that recognition is starting to roll in fantasy-wise. Over on ESPN, Mike Glennon is predicted to be the 10th-best starter this week which would put him in the starting lineup in the majority of fantasy leagues. NFL.com has four experts ranking him in the top 14. The analysts over at Yahoo.com find him in the 17 spot, but we expect their minds to change in the coming weeks as well.

And on the topic of rocketing up the fantasy ranks, let’s also discuss Bobby Rainey before moving on to this week's analysis. We pointed out last week that Rainey was owned in a booming 2% of fantasy leagues. In the past six days, that number has jumped to 58.2% after Sunday’s big performance. ESPN experts forecast him as the 20th highest RB scorer, while NFL.com and Yahoo.com say 19th and 14th, respectively.

1. Long Day for Passing Defenses

No wide receiver has more fantasy points than Calvin Johnson, who has put up at least 24 in six of his nine games. When the Lions don’t have the ball, another top-12 fantasy wide receiver will be on the field, Vincent Jackson, who has four games with 20+, and three games of 30+ since his Week Five bye. The potential for league-leading fantasy points this week coming from the Bucs vs. Lions matchup is pretty high. All fantasy numbers in this section, by the way, are for points per reception (PPR) leagues.

We start with Vincent Jackson, who is coming off a 10-catch, 165-yard, one-TD performance against the Falcons. That game marked the fourth time this season he has posted seven or more receptions AND 110 or more yards. Jackson was targeted 11 times last week, making it the seventh time this season he has had 10 or more balls thrown his way. That makes for a reliable fantasy scorer.

- Rookie QB M. Glennon has consistently put up around 15 fantasy points each week
Also working in his favor: the Detroit Lions’ secondary. The Lions are giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. They have allowed multiple WR touchdowns in each of their last four games, and through those games have allowed 27, 22, 32 and 33 points to the opponent’s number-one receiver. Expect Glennon to keep the passes flying in Jackson's direction, leading to another big performance by the Buccaneers’ most recognizable fantasy star.

As if another fantasy point explosion out of Vincent Jackson wasn’t interesting enough, things get really exciting when the Detroit offense takes the field.

Calvin Johnson leads all receivers with 226 fantasy points, 25 more than his closest competitor, despite missing a game this season. He also leads receivers in real NFL football with 1,083 yards and 11 touchdowns. As if that (or his record-breaking 2012 performance) wasn’t enough, Johnson has 35 receptions, 746 yards and seven TDs in his last four games. Expanded out over a season, that would make him second all-time in single-season receptions, shatter his own single-season yardage record by more than 1,000 yards, and top the single-season TD record by five. He’s had a pretty good run.

The possible wrinkle here, of course, would be one Darrelle Revis. In the past four Buccaneers games, Revis and the Bucs secondary have held the opponent’s number-one receiver to games of eight, five, five and four points. The two have faced each other just one time before, in 2010, and in that game Calvin Johnson left with just one catch for 13 yards. There is no doubt that this is Sunday’s matchup to watch.

Needless to say, both Jackson and Johnson are absolute must-starts in all fantasy leagues this week and every week they're not on byes. A case can be made for the other receivers in the game as well, though more tenuously. As mentioned, the Lions are giving up the second-most fantasy points to receivers, which could make Tiquan Underwood a borderline starter this week in deeper leagues. And while the Bucs have done a great job limiting WR1s, the second and third receivers have been putting up big numbers against them. Seattle’s Doug Baldwin put up 19, Miami’s Rishard Matthews scored 35 and Atlanta’s Harry Douglas has 52 points in his two games against the Buccaneers.

The Lions’ Kris Durham is a prime candidate to see an improvement in fantasy points. He has been the most targeted receiver behind Johnson since the middle of the season. It is also probable that Nate Burleson will see his first action of the season since Week Three. Burleson had six or more catches and 79.7 yards per game (ypg) in all three games he played before breaking his forearm in a pizza-related incident. He is listed as probable.

2. Running Wild

In the last three weeks, the Buccaneers running backs have carried for 178, 143 and 182 yards. This is without Doug Martin, and with primary backup Mike James going down in the first quarter of the second game listed. Since then, it has been Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard sharing the load and racking up yardage for the Bucs’ offense.

Last week, Rainey made fantasy waves, carrying the ball 30 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while adding two catches and a receiving touchdown. That is 34 standard league points, good for the eighth-highest single-game total posted all season and the most posted by a running back in any game this season.

This week, rather than facing the 30th-ranked run defense of the Atlanta Falcons, he will face the fifth-best Detroit run defense. Detroit is allowing 94.6 rushing ypg. Against running backs this year, they have not allowed more than 61 rushing yards since Week Five and have not allowed a rushing touchdown since Week Four.

Yards can be had through the passing game against the Lions. Rainey has three receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown this season and will need to do more than that to get a big break against the Lions. This is, however, where Brian Leonard could become a factor. In the last four games, sharing time with both Rainey and Mike James, Leonard has four catches per game and 117 yards overall

After his performance last week, if you picked up Rainey, you should feel confident enough in the Buccaneers run game and run blocking to start him freely this week. Brian Leonard is a bit more of a risk as he has not found the end zone this year. He should stay in the mix for carries and is a better threat in the passing game and on third downs. In PPR leagues, he is a solid filler if you are looking to fill a flex spot because of bye or injury.

The Detroit Lions boast two distinguished fantasy running backs, who both rank in the top 20 in fantasy points scored this season. Reggie Bush is fifth in the NFL in scrimmage ypg, proving that he is a threat in both the rushing and receiving game. Joique Bell had great fantasy success early in the season with Bush hampered, but has surged again in recent weeks with two TDs in the last three games.

Bush has four games this season with 20 or more fantasy points. In the two games before last week, Bush had 197 rushing yards and a touchdown, but saw his workload decline after losing a fumble last week against the Steelers. Bush should be back to full participation in this game against the Buccaneers, who are allowing the12th-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season.

A handful of injuries also may boost Bush’s fantasy status this week. Bell, who usually spells Bush for carries, is listed as questionable with an Achilles injury. He participated fully in Friday’s practice, but may be limited if he does play. On the Bucs side of the ball, hard-hitting safety Dashon Goldson and starting middle linebacker Mason Foster will be out. The Bucs defense will need to step up to contain Bush, especially from finding the corner and in the passing game.

3. Individual Defensive Players (IDP)

Based on the above write-ups, it should be needless to say that starting either the Lions or Buccaneers defense is a tad risky as we could see a fair amount of points in this contest and both offenses have been good at limiting turnovers and sacks. However, this game does have some IDP gems that could get some a good deal of fantasy action this week.

The high-powered offensive attack of the Lions spells good news for opposing defensive backs. As Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and company make plays down the field, the defense’s safeties are often the ones called upon to clean up, making Mark Barron a great play this week.

Barron will line up without fellow starter Dashon Goldson, who is serving a suspension, so that could alter how he is used. But with Mason Foster out of the game, it will be largely up to Barron to keep things clean in the middle of the field. Barron is already ranked ninth in total tackles among defensive backs. He adds five passes defended and two interceptions. He should remain busy all day.

With Vincent Jackson making big plays downfield, members of the opposing secondaries have been able to bolster their tackle numbers. With Jackson catching seven or more passes in three games, Detroit cornerback Chris Houston could see more tackles Sunday than he has in most games this season.

At linebacker, Lavonte David remains a sure-fire IDP starter. David’s 86 total tackles leads the team and ties him at 10th for the most among all NFL defenders. Again, with the defensive injuries for the Bucs’ David could step up big in Sunday’s game. He’s also second in the league in stuffs and has added five sacks, a safety and an interception.

Across the defensive line, Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh has a fantasy edge. He holds down the middle of a fearsome defensive line. The three most recent Buccaneers games have also been the three games in which they have the most carries, topping 37 rushes in each. Through the month of November, only one NFL team has run the ball more than the Bucs. With Suh roaming the middle of the line, he should make a few disruptions this week.

Buccaneer DT Gerald McCoy will look to make his presence felt after one of the best defensive tackle fantasy games of the season a week ago. Against the Falcons, McCoy dropped Matt Ryan three times. His six sacks on the season are tied for fourth among tackles. Of course, most of his production doesn’t make its way on the stat sheets (i.e. forcing double teams to free up fellow linemen). If your league has a specific spot for defensive tackles, he’s your man, but if it is strictly for defensive linemen, 99 times out of 100, you’ll be better off playing a defensive end.