Who’s going to be drafting some Buccaneers on their fantasy squad this year? As the 2010 NFL season approaches, there are many of us NFL fans meeting up with our friends and colleagues to draft our new fantasy football teams. Though we try to be objective, it can be difficult to separate the hopes and dreams we have for certain individuals on our team from the reality of what is likely to happen. That said, there is some solid fantasy value on the Bucs roster. More specifically, Cadillac Williams will contribute to starting fantasy rosters each week in many leagues this year.
Though many fantasy experts are basically writing off our Buccaneers, it should just provide them another form of motivation. At a glance it’s easy to concur with the so-called experts, but after further review I have to disagree. There are too many positives to ignore and improvement from 2009 is very likely.
In 2009 Cadillac Williams was the most productive fantasy player on the Bucs' offense. He amassed stat totals of 823 rushing yards, 217 receiving yards and 7 total TDs. In fantasy land, this put his 2009 value around 146 total points in standard scoring leagues, an average of just over 9.1 points per game. His final ranking amongst RBs in 2009 was 24th, landing just behind Jerome Harrison and in front of Willis McGahee.
Going into 2009 there was much confusion about how the Bucs would split the carries amongst Williams, Ward and Graham. This year there is no doubt about how the team plans to use Williams. Graham has been reassigned to serve as the first string fullback and Williams has outperformed Ward in every facet of the running game since his return last year from a second serious knee injury. He has earned the starting job and will be used as the primary back in the Bucs two-back system.
Another reason for optimism surrounding Williams’ 2010 season is his health. This is the first year since 2007 he is entering the year with a clean bill of health. In 2009 Williams played in all 16 games, the first time he’s managed that feat in his 5 year career. Without a rehabilitation assignment to fulfill, Williams was a full participant throughout the entire 2010 off-season and was able to concentrate solely on football. Through these recent accomplishments he has regained confidence in his durability and is mentally prepared to have a great season.
A widely agreed upon strength of the Buccaneers is the offensive line. This unit has remained intact after thwarting a potentially long holdout by signing Donald Penn to a long term contract. The Bucs are returning every starter from last year’s team and have added quality depth in the form of G Keydrick Vincent. With a combined 76 out of 80 starts in 2009 the starting offensive line gained valuable experience playing together all last season. The four missing starts belong to C Jeff Faine who suffered a triceps injury in the early part of the 2009 season. Looking to continue their consistent play, the Bucs offensive line will help improve Williams’ 2010 production.
In 2009 the Bucs faced 5 teams (6 games) who finished in the top 10 in rushing defense in 2009 and 5 teams who finished 11-20. The remaining five games were against NO, CAR and BUF who ranked 21st, 22nd and 30th respectively. In 2010 the Bucs will face 5 teams (6 games) who finished in the top 10 and 3 teams who finished 11-20. The remaining 7 games will be against NO, CAR, DET, STL, and CLE who ranked 21st, 22nd, 25th, 27th and 28th respectively. Keep in mind that last year’s rankings are not a sure indicator for the play that will occur in the 2010 season, as most teams have made personnel changes to their rosters. However, it still looks as though the Bucs should have an easier time running the ball in 2010.
Williams’ ability has never been questioned; we all know the talent he possesses. As previously mentioned, the so-called experts are down on the Bucs but I fail to see why they all believe Williams is going to have a dip in production from a good 2009 season. Currently, Williams’ 2010 points projections are ranked as high as 30th and as low as 39th depending on which website you subscribe to. My projection for Williams is a point ranking in the top 20 backs for the 2010 season, 1000 rushing yards, 250 receiving yards and 10 total TDs. These are not unreasonable projections and Williams has a great opportunity to reach these numbers and the ability to exceed them.