August 10, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive back Chris Clemons (30) makes the tackle on Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) during the first quarter of the game between the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
The NFL regular season is about to start, and that means Fantasy Football gets under way too. For years on end, the Bucs have been utterly irrelevant in the numbers-oriented fantasy department. Mike Williams is the only player who put up a decent number of points at his position when he got a lot of playing time as a rookie, and he promptly followed that up with a disastrous 2011 campaign. Blount looked a bit like a breakthrough candidate, but slumped along with the rest of the team in 2011. Will it be different this year? Which Buccaneers should you pick in fantasy football?
1. Doug Martin
Doug Martin's the bright young rookie, and he's likely to get a lot of touches this season. While Blount is still nominally the starter, for now, Martin should be a more valuable fantasy player. Not just because he will likely win the starting role outright at the end of training camp, but also because he's clearly going to get most of the third down duties. That means lots of opportunity for catches, and that means fantasy points. While Blount is certainly an improved player this year, and that will eat into Martin's carries, I'd still take Martin over any other Buccaneer this year.
The big-name free agent addition this season, Vincent Jackson will be the number one receiver for the Bucs. With Josh Freeman looking like a much better player this year, improved footwork and all, Jackson should have a big year. The one thing that will hold him back will be the volume of passes the Bucs are likely to throw, which won't be all that high. Still, Jackson has had three 1,000 yard seasons in a similar run-first offense, and he should be a pretty high-end WR2 at the least.
3. Legarrette Blount
Blount won't be breaking records, but he should still get a decent number of touches this year. I'd imagine some 10 or more carries per game, and a few of those could be goal-line carries if his newfound decisiveness turns out to be permanent. He won't be a great option, but should do nicely as bye-week filler. And there's always a chance he gets a much bigger share of the carries if Martin gets injured or otherwise disappoints.
4. Mike Williams
The team's number two wide receiver still has all the talent that saw him fall just short of 1,000 yards in his rookie season. He appears to have found his ability to actually catch and fight for a ball, which mysteriously disappeared for the past 16 games. He should get a decent amount of red zone targets, and with Vincent Jackson drawing deep coverage he could be a big factor as an underneath receiver as well.
Here's your sleeper for this year: Tiquan Underwood. In case of injury to one of the starting wideouts, Underwood is likely to see a lot of targets - if he can keep his play up. He's been the star of training camp, he has NFL experience, and he looked great in the team's first preseason game. If you have some roster room left over at the end of a draft, stash this guy on your roster somewhere and hope he gets a chance to break out.