The newest issue of Sport Illustrated has recently produced a list of the “Top 32 Players At Each Offensive Position” for fantasy football. In this article I will give my take on Sports Illustrated’s rankings, compare them with ESPN’s rankings and give a prediction of my own.
Sports Illustrated ranked Josh Freeman as the 17th best quarterback in the NFL. Placing Freeman behind last year’s Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Flacco was a very generous ranking. Although I don’t disagree with the SI staff putting him ahead of Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, and Michael Vick, I’m not going to argue for it either .
ESPN did the opposite of SI, ranking Freeman behind the previously mentioned quarterbacks. I also don’t see anything wrong with their ranking. All of these quarterbacks all have the same problem, consistency. Some games each of these quarterbacks, including Freeman, have the ability and athleticism to make any defense look like junior varsity teams. I remember getting goosebumps watching Freeman throw five touchdown passes against Seattle on December 26, 2010 in person, and watching him on the verge of vomit as he threw 4 interceptions with no touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints last season. My point being if you can’t consistently play at your best you shouldn’t be listed above 15.
ESPN says it the best: “Freeman has the weapons, and he’s physically capable of making any throw. But he also has a tendency to spiral down the rabbit hole when things go poorly. Tampa’s offense could go places. We’re just not sure Freeman is the guy to lead it.”
My prediction on Freeman is based off an improved run game and defense improving. 3,600 yards 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
So far this offseason the Buccaneer on everyone’s radar is Doug Martin. Sports Illustrated had him ranked 3rd behind Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. They called him a “key figure of the league wide feature-back renaissance as a rookie, he belongs among the elite.” I agree with this completely, especially with the constantly improving Buccaneers offensive line. The
Buccaneers also have a ”Run N’ Gun” mentality which heavily favors Martin because of he will also gain a lot of receiving yards and was third on the team in catches and yards last season. Lastly, if last year was any indication I don’t see any backup taking away a lot of snaps from Martin even though Brian Leonard and Mike James have been impressive this preseason.
This is the aspect of Doug Martin ESPN didn’t really contemplated in their fantasy rankings. ESPN ranked Doug Martin fifth among running backs. Even though this is still the highest ranking for any Buccaneer player, Martin will be a top three back. Sports Illustrated ranked Martin just ahead of Marshawn Lynch and two spots ahead of Ray Rice. I agree more with this ranking because both Lynch and Rice have viable backups who will see more game time. Last season Blount only saw 41 carries and D.J Ware had 11, that’s only 52 carries from other players. Baltimore’s Bernard Peirce had 108 double that amount a lone. Also Seattle’s Robert Turbin had 80 carries, plus Russell Wilson is going have plenty of designed runs. The other thing about Seattle is that they just got Percy Harvin, so a lot of targets in the receiving game are going to be taken away from Lynch, who only had 23 catches for one touchdown last season.
The last reason I don’t agree with ESPN’s ranking is because Doug Martin had more fantasy points than both Lynch and Rice last season, and he finally has the talent on the defensive side of the ball to keep the run game active during all four quarters. Last season the Buccaneers would just get blown out in the first half by teams and forced to pass for the final two quarters. So with Doug Martin no longer restrained by a big deficit fueled by a defense giving up 300 passing yards a game, the second-year back out of Boise State should be more than capable of a 1600 yard 12 touchdown season.
Both Vincent Jackson and Michael Williams made Sports Illustrated Top 32 list. Jackson landed the number 11 spot after an outstanding 1,384 yard 8 touchdown first season with the Buccaneers. Although an 11th ranking is high praise, I believe that Jackson deserved to be in the Top 10. Jackson had the best season of his career setting new career-highs with 69 passes for a career-best 1,334 yards. Also thanks to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan‘s ”Run N’ Gun” mentality, Jackson led the NFL in average yards at the catch while only tallying three drops on 141 targets. If this was my list, Jackson would be 10 behind Andre Johnson, sending Larry Fitzgerald from the number 9 to 11 spot.
ESPN actually took my list one step further and ranked Jackson 8th ahead of Johnson and Fitzgerald. Claiming that Jackson “Jackson will continue to be the key deep threat in Freeman’s development project.” I agree with ESPN and their fantasy projection and believe that Jackson’s yards will taper down, however, I believe that in their second year together Freeman and Jackson will be more of a finely tuned machine in the red-zone. No corner is going to shut down the man beast that is Vincent Jackson one on one with the goal-line that close if Freeman can place the ball where it needs to be.
Mike Williams ranking by Sports Illustrated was spot on in my book. They placed him at 28. Mike Williams is probably the best wide-receiver to never get over 1,000 yards in a season. He is a red zone and vertical threat at all times and has the ability to make people miss. For this reason I felt ESPN disrespected Williams by ranking him 36th!
“Here’s hoping Williams isn’t on the every-other-year plan. He was spectacular in his rookie season of ’10, flamed out in ’11, but was back again as an oft-used red-zone target in ’12. Would you believe Williams is tied for ninth in WR TDs over the past three years combined? Nobody will mistake him for a burner, but it’s heartening to see Williams produce even as flashier Vincent Jackson became the focal point of the Buccaneers passing offense. A pure flanker with enough physicality to do the receiving dirty work, Williams’ yardage total won’t blow you away. But the TDs should be there.”
I agree with ESPN that Williams wont have the most receiving yards, but if he has a bad season, it won’t be because be because he’s inconsistent. He only did bad in 2011 because he had zero receiving help.
I predict that Williams will have another 900 yard season and 9 touchdowns.
Last year Connor Barth had 142 fantasy points and was one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL Whoever ends up landing the Buccaneers starting kicking job I have a feeling that they won’t be nearly as successful. Also if the defense improves the way its expected to, the Buccaneers offense will be scoring more touchdowns and kicking less field goals.
Doug Martin will lead the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in fantasy points, followed by Freeman, Jackson, Williams, and the kicker.