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Buccaneers Fantasy Corner: Week Nine

Posted Nov 2, 2013

The Seahawks have been among the NFL’s best at limiting opponents’ yards, points and – by extension – fantasy output...How will Vincent Jackson and a gang of fantasy sleepers affect your lineup this week?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Injuries and strong defenses may limit the fantasy impact of Sunday’s Bucs-Seahawks game, unless a sleeper or two emerges
  • QB Mike Glennon has been close to a top-12 fantasy starter in recent weeks but will battle a very noisy CenturyLink Field
  • WR Golden Tate will be the focal point of Seattle’s passing attack, and potentially of shutdown CB Darrelle Revis
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. Earlier this week, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring ailment.  With those two out, wide receiver Vincent Jackson finds himself as the only healthy Buccaneer player owned in more than 11% of fantasy football leagues. This certainly doesn’t mean that the Bucs have been slouches in fantasy this year, just that outside of Jackson lies a long list of fantasy sleepers this week, and perhaps for the rest of the season.

Vincent Jackson (100% owned) has 55 fantasy points in the last three weeks, among the best at his position. Quarterback Mike Glennon has thrown to Vincent Jackson more in the month of October than the next three most-targeted Bucs receivers combined. Jackson is facing a tough task going up against Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, one of the best in the business and a match for him physically. Jackson’s task is even task considering that the game will be played at CenturyLink Field, from which no opposing receiver has left with more than 70 receiving yards in a game this season.

With his success in 2013, Jackson remains a must-start, even in hostile territory. But it is likely that he will face some extra pressure with Martin and Williams out, which opens the door for other, lesser-known Buccaneers to step up and embrace the role of fantasy sleeper.  Which brings us to our first topic…

1. Buccaneers Fantasy Sleeper Candidates

RB Mike James is the only active Buccaneers other than Jackson to be owned in more than 10% of fantasy leagues. James looks to be the back to carry most of the load. He has 24 carries over the last two games with 84 yards rushing. He does add another dimension to his game with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, making him a safer sleeper play in PPR leagues. The Seahawks have been solid against the run all year, especially at home. In their three home-field contests, Seattle has allowed just 92 yards, and less than two yards per carry. They have shown their vulnerability on the road, however, allowing 173 rushing yards in St. Louis last week.

- RB M. James is a potential fantasy sleeper this weekend
QB Mike Glennon will face his toughest task of the season. No defense has allowed fewer points to opposing quarterbacks this year than the Seahawks, who give up just 9.4 fantasy points per game, compared to the 15.5 league average. The Seahawks have held opposing QBs to five points or less in four of their eight games, and all three of their home games. Still, Glennon has found himself ranked as a top-12 fantasy scoring QB for the last three weeks. His 16.6 points per game since the bye week is a higher average than two-thirds of all NFL fantasy QBs. With six teams on bye this week, he could be used in case of emergencies, but it is hard to feel much confidence against one of the best pass defenses in the league.

With Williams out for the season and Vincent Jackson likely to see frequent double-teams, the Bucs may need to turn to a less likely source for some aerial production, and that could equate to fantasy production for the presumptive new number-two receiver, Tiquan Underwood. Underwood had a few nice fantasy games last season, and had a solid showing with three receptions for 47 yards when Williams was slowed last week. This is definitely not a great matchup for Underwood, facing the fourth ranked defense vs. WRs this year, and is only a start if you are struggling to fill your flex position. However, in deeper leagues, he is a solid waiver wire pickup. Expect his owned percentage to increase over the next few weeks as he steps into a more prevalent role on offense.

Rounding out the Bucs sleepers, TE Tim Wright. Each week, Wright makes more and more of a name for himself, but he is still owned in just 0.7% of leagues. Since Glennon’s first start in Week 4, Wright has 10.75 PPR fantasy points per game, which puts him right on the edge of being a top-10 point-earner. He found the end zone for the first time in his last game, and most of his points come from receptions. But, again, with the possible heavy coverage of Jackson, a Buccaneer receiver will need to step up. Of this week’s starters, Wright seems to have the most potential to do so.

Home-field advantage rarely plays into fantasy football starter decisions, but against Seattle, it must be taken into account. For the Buccaneers’ sleepers to succeed, the offense cannot let the crowd get to them, and must temper the Seahawk defense early, quieting the famed 12th man at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defense has shown vulnerability to all fantasy positions at times this year, but the Buccaneers will try to be the first team to exploit that on Seattle’s home turf.

2. When Seattle has the Ball

The Seahawks have had fantasy football success so far this season, but not without a few headaches for owners. Against a game Buccaneers defense, but on their home turf, the Seahawks are tough to predict on offense this week. Just one game removed from a strong all-around showing against the Cardinals, the offense struggled mightily against the Rams on Monday Night. Last week, must-start Marshawn Lynch put up just three points, while Russell Wilson owners have grumbled at his five games with under 220 yards passing. The team faces one more hurdle after learning that they have lost dynamic receiver Sidney Rice for the season and Percy Harvin is not yet ready to play.

As stated, RB Marshawn Lynch should be in all starting lineups. The Buccaneers are allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game this year, and have surrendered just one TD to a running back, but they have given up a lot of receptions and receiving yards to the position over the last two weeks. Lynch is not renowned for his receiving abilities but has had some success this year, averaging 12.1 yards per catch, the highest of his career. He is coming off a three-point fantasy performance, and has two games with just six points, but he has a propensity to find the end zone and has posted 90+-yards in four games.

In the first four games of the season, no QB put up more than 15 fantasy points against the Bucs defense. However, in each of the last three games, the defense has allowed 22 or more. In those three weeks, QB Russell Wilson has posted 16, 19 and 14 point games with modest yardage, but a five-to-zero touchdown to interception ratio. Behind a struggling offensive line, Wilson has been sacked 19 times in the last five games, seven times on Monday. If the Buccaneers can get a solid pass rush with their front four, The Bucs could trend back to their early numbers and Wilson could be held to 15 points or fewer for the fifth time this season.

To make things tougher for Wilson, he will be without WRs Harvin and Rice, making Golden Tate the de facto number one receiver and forcing Doug Baldwin to become a solid contributor. Tate has proven himself over the last few weeks with a five-catch, 93-yard, two-TD game last week. However, with CB Darrelle Revis rounding steadily into his previous shutdown form, Tate could find himself on a certain island for most of the afternoon. If Revis does indeed key on Tate for a significant amount of time, that would leave the Seahawks needing Baldwin to step up and improve upon his recent stat line. In the last three games combined, Baldwin has six catches for 76 yards and no scores. WR Jermaine Kearse should see the most action of his season, but is a long way from a starting fantasy lineup. TE Zach Miller could shoulder some of the load, but he has primarily been a red zone weapon with just 130 receiving yards and three of his 15 receptions going for scores.

Buccaneers vs. Seahawks is shaping up like a number of Tampa Bay games this season: full of question marks in the fantasy football game. Can the Buccaneers offense get things going on Seattle’s turf? Will any Buc emerge beside Jackson as a fantasy star? Will the Seahawks have any success in the air minus a key player and a new look from the Tampa Bay secondary? One thing is for sure, for either team to impress, a sleeper or two must emerge.