The key to any successful fantasy football season is creating a competitive edge for yourself; putting yourself in the best position each and every week to succeed. Those with an evolving strategy are often those who end the year on top. As the weeks go by, we get a better feel for the teams and the big names that shape our leagues. But to create that advantage, you need to take a closer look into the numbers. With two weeks under our belt, let's dive into some of the best names and strategies – in terms of fantasy football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their opponents – that might just give you a leg up in Week Three and beyond.
1. IDP Stars Taking the Field
Outside the world of standard and PPR (points per reception) leagues lies a kind of fantasy monster that is slowly gaining popularity. IDP (individual defensive player) leagues go beyond the touchdown and yardage stats of quarterback, running backs and receivers by including tackles, interceptions and other defensive statistics for players at the defensive line, linebacker and defensive back positions.
The face-off between Dallas and Tampa Bay will highlight some of this year's top performing IDP players. Cowboys LB Sean Lee leads the NFL in total tackles with 26 so far this season, 14 of them solo tackles. Along with his forced fumble against the Giants, he is among the top IDP linebackers in the league. Dallas also has two players, LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, who have two sacks to their name.
The heavy hitters on the Buccaneers' side of the ball are led by LB Mason Foster who is second in the NFL with 18 solo tackles, leads the NFL with 3.5 tackles for loss, and has added an interception and a fumble recovery. Last week alone, Foster tallied 13 tackles enough to put him among the top-scoring linebackers in all fantasy. Four other Tampa Bay Buccaneer defenders have notched an interception in the first two games: S Ronde Barber and CBs Ahmad Black, Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright.
2. Brought to You by the Letter K
Everyone in the fantasy football world is scrambling around after every Sunday, trying to lay a waiver claim on the biggest name from the previous week. But your time might be better spent by upgrading the most mistakenly underappreciated spot on your roster: the kicker.
In fantasy football, a game often decided by the slimmest of margins, the difference between a week of bragging rights and a week of mockery can be something as small as a 20-yard field goal. Yet many of the NFL's top-scoring kickers are sitting on the wire just waiting to be snatched.
Sunday's matchup is a picture-perfect example. Cowboys' kicker Dan Bailey is owned in 87.6% of all fantasy leagues, and starting in 77.2%, yet of all starting NFL kickers, he has the lowest fantasy points total, one field goal and four extra points, good for seven fantasy points.
Conversely, Buccaneers' kicker Connor Barth has hit five extra points and five field goals, two from between 40-49 yards and one from beyond 50. This is good for ninth in the league in terms of fantasy points, with 24. However, compared to Bailey, Barth is only owned in 1.9% of leagues. His 20 consecutive field goals made dates back to October 16, 2011 and is the longest active streak in the NFL.
3. A Look Forward to Bye Weeks
A fantasy football aspect that is often overlooked in the preseason and even into the first few weeks is the hindrance that NFL bye weeks can have on your fantasy team. For example, when drafting a backup at quarterback, you might just be going for whoever is predicted to perform the best. However, the best strategy might actually be to take a deeper look at the bye week schedule and select your backup from the data you collect.
Because of bye weeks, during Week 6, Drew Brees and Cam Newton owners will be looking for a solid backup to help them win their matchup. Those owners might want to take a hard look at Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who will be facing the Kansas City Chiefs at home in Tampa.
This Week Six matchup is coming directly off the Buccaneers' bye week. Currently, the Kansas City Chiefs defense is tied for last in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. They are giving up 235 yards per game through the air, have allowed five passing touchdowns, produced zero interceptions and accumulated just one sack.
Josh Freeman is getting more comfortable with each game. In Week One, when the Buccaneers opted for a run-heavy offense, Freeman had a completion percentage of 66.7 with 138 yards and a score. In Week Two he saw his passing yards climbed to 243 with two touchdowns. As he begins to get into more of a rhythm throughout the year, his numbers could become comparable to those he produced in his fantastic sophomore campaign of 2010 which resulted in 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions.