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Midweek Gameplan 8-10-11


The Buccaneers’ Most Recent

The Buccaneer’s first preseason game is this week, and that is what we have all been waiting for.  I am excited to watch the team (even if it is just preseason), and more excited that football season is upon us once again.  I am always intrigued by the position battles and the guys scrapping to make a spot on the roster.  One person that I can’t wait to see will surprise some people, Demar Dotson.

Dotson is the backup left tackle at this point on the depth chart, but I thought he looked very good in limited action last preseason before going down with a knee injury.  There hasn’t been much publicity about him this year, and I want to see if he has continued to improve.  Part of me wishes that if he does do well, the Bucs may consider him at right tackle, where Jeremy Trueblood and James Lee are battling it out.

Injury Updates and Commentary

Gerald McCoy's shoulder should not be a lingering injury
Gerald McCoy's shoulder should not be a lingering injury /

Gerald McCoy injured his shoulder this last week, and was held out of the public night practice.  It was listed as a rotator cuff strain, but this is essentially a grab bag diagnosis.  A strain is usually a microtear of the muscle as the muscle is pulled beyond its capacity either by stretch or contraction.  Either way, this is usually a temporary injury, and it heals on its own in a short time.  I don’t expect him to have any lasting effects from the injury or miss any substantial time.

NFL Matters

I have to admit that I find humor in reports of how much money is in an NFL contract.  You hear about how such and such signed a multi-year mega-million dollar contract with a huge signing bonus.  What you really need to focus on is how much of the contract is guaranteed.  Agents will advertise these contracts to say that their client got this huge deal and the numbers are often much bigger than what the players receive in actuality.

Many of these deals have the first 1-3 years with a standard salary, which the player will likely receive, and the signing bonus is always guaranteed.  The second half of the contract is often laden with roster bonuses and non guaranteed money.  Most often, the contracts are not carried out to the end of the deals.  If players are doing well or really bad, the team will restructure or terminate the contracts accordingly.  If the player is cut in these “funny money” years, then it doesn’t even count against the team’s salary cap (except for anything prorated over years of the contract).

This practice is actually good for the sport, because if the whole contract was guaranteed, then teams would be on the hook for the money and would feel obligated to keep bad players, and it could cripple a team if they have one or two bad signings.  Then, teams would throw in expiring contracts into trades like happens in the NBA, to offload some of their cap burden.

Fantasy Focus

I have touched on all the major players for the Bucs over the past columns, and I will have updates on Bucs players as needed.  Therefore, this week’s edition focuses on your draft strategy.  Lots of the fantasy sites will give advice all over the map, but I will reveal what has worked for me the past couple of years.

My overall strategy is to get the best running back or quarterback in the first round and then get the other position in the second round.  Thus, if you select a quarterback in the first round, select the best running back available in the second round or vice-versa.  This insures that you cover the two highest scoring positions in the first rounds.  In the third round, select either another running back, or a stud receiver.  By stud receiver, I mean one of the top five or six (i.e. Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, etc).  Wide receiver is so variable from week to week after those that top tier, it is not worth utilizing a high draft pick on.

In the fourth round, you can often nab a top tight end.  Then spend the next three rounds drafting two receivers and a defense.  The rest of the rounds will be mostly dedicated to filling in running backs and receivers, but if a decent quarterback or tight end is still around, nab them in the 7th-9th rounds.  Finally, get a kicker in the last round.

With this strategy, you will need to be constantly evaluating your receivers, playing the matchups, and combing the waiver wire, but the first three picks and a good tight-end will keep you in games every week.  There is always a Mike Williams(2010) or Miles Austin(2009) who will emerge as a consistent scorer who goes undrafted in most leagues.

At The End of the Day

I have to admit that I am not a huge Shannon Sharpe fan.  I think he was a great player, but not an elite tight end.  He even admits that he was more of an H-back than a tight-end.  For anyone out there who thinks differently, please evaluate his three-point stance.  My best friend from high school would imitate the stance with such accuracy that we would all laugh when he crouched down into the little frog-like pose.  In addition, I have yet to see, or have anyone produce any video of him truly blocking someone.  Not cutting or getting in the way, actually driving a defender downfield.  I guess I am old school, and expect a tight-end to block and catch passes.

Even after that rant, I must say that I was truly impressed by a portion of his induction speech this weekend.  He made a point to say that he was not even the best football player in his family.  I would agree with him and I have more respect for him after this comment.  When they were both playing, Shannon and his brother, Sterling Sharpe would have a bet with each other on who would have more receptions.  Sterling always won until he got injured.  I guess with Shannon getting into the Hall of Fame, his brother also made it in a vicarious way.  I am okay with that, as Sterling was one of the best receivers in the game before the injury.

Until next week, get out and enjoy the rest of summer.