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Fantasy Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getting Respect In Early Fantasy Rankings, Josh Freeman Being Underrated

On the “Fantasy Focus” podcast on ESPN.com, “The Talented Mr. Roto” Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz were discussing the value of Josh Freeman heading into 2013 after the site’s Fantasy Football rankings summit. Ravitz mentioned that Josh Freeman was 20th in the rankings, but that he felt more comfortable with him than Joe Flacco who was ranked 15th amongst quarterbacks. Berry exclaimed that he felt “we have seen the best of Freeman” whereas Flacco “has turned a corner” thanks to his playoff performance earlier this year.

And that’s not the only Buccaneer to be slighted by the four letter network’s fantasy staff.

Freeman’s ranking of 20 puts him behind the aforementioned Flacco, as well as Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton, and Jay Cutler. Coming off the most productive fantasy season for a Buccaneers’ quarterback in recent memory (and probably team history), it’s easy to see why pundits may think he’s ready for a fall. But Freeman still showed signs of struggling, and also suffered from a lack of protection thanks to injuries on the offensive line. The thought that Flacco, who has lost weapons from his offense, would be better than Freeman, who keeps the same offensive core of skill players and offensive coordinator for the first time in his career, is a bit absurd. But I will gladly take Freeman at the end of drafts and stash him with hopes that he takes a step forward in 2013.

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Martin came in fifth among running backs, behind Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, and Ray Rice. There’s no disrespect here. I think this ranking shows the level of play most experts expect from Martin, and it’s scary to think he may exceed those expectations. Martin has no competition at running back for the Bucs, and will likely get more touches than Rice and Foster due to offensive roles and durability. I plan to target Martin heavily this season, as I feel like he’s poised to have a fantastic season.

Vincent Jackson cracked the top 10 wide receivers, coming in ninth, just ahead of Andre Johnson of the Texans. He comes in behind Percy Harvin and Roddy White, the former who has moved to Seattle to join Russell Wilson to form a strong young passing attack. The latter is Jackson’s division rival who must now face Darrelle Revis and Co. twice a season. I feel this ranking is fair for Vincent, because as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to be the focal point of the Buccaneers’ offense.

Mike Williams finds his place as the 37th wide receiver, just behind Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys. Williams is poised to have another solid year, as he will be given the lesser coverage option from a defense on most occasions, as Vincent Jackson will attract the most attention. Williams will be a solid option as a third receiver/flex option for fantasy owners.

It should come as no surprise that no Buccaneer tight ends made the top 20 at the position. It will be unclear until closer to the start of the season who the main receiver from the tight end position will be, so steer clear until then. My money would be on Luke Stocker to emerge as the starter, in which case he’d be a borderline top 20 tight end, meaning he’s likely not fantasy relevant.

The ESPN team did not rank defenses, but the Buccaneers’ defense will be an interesting play this season. The sacks won’t be as frequent as some other defenses, but it may still prove to be a reliable defense for turnovers and low points allowed. (We hope, right?)

What Buccaneers will you be targeting in fantasy football this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tags: Fantasy Football Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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