Shiver me timbers!
It’s time to sit back, grab some grog, and examine the scallywags from Tampa Bay in ye latest olde edition of the dynasty team capsules.
Tampa Bay is a motley crew of young pirates who are ready to pillage the landscape of the NFC South. Young dynasty swabbies may pass right over this youthful bunch, but they risk finding themselves walking the plank later. Well-experienced sea dogs take the time to analyze this crew’s long-term potential to ensure they don’t leave their dynasty ship at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker.
Cap’n Morris’ Bucs ended last year with a record of 3-13 and looked more like “The Good Ship Lollipop” than the “Jolly Roger,” but they showed some flashes of improvement. Let’s put them under the spyglass to see if any of these doubloons can be transformed into fantasy football treasure.
Players in Their Prime
Kellen Winslow, TE
It’s tough to put Winslow into a category. On one hand, he led the Bucs with 77 receptions for 884 yards and five TDs last year. On the other, he’s always a huge injury risk. In the end, Winslow is right in his window of opportunity for fantasy production. Keep in mind his career is destined to be short, though. Those knees are just not going to hold up for five or six more seasons.
Josh Freeman, QB
Many of you have read our featured article on Josh Freeman. He’s poised for a breakout season and has all the physical tools to be a very successful QB. Freeman has a powerful arm, large frame, good mobility, and a solid work ethic. That’s worthwhile combination for a QB. He should easily improve upon his 10 touchdown passes and flirt with his first 3,000-yard season in 2010. He’s squarely on the “buy now” list.
Arrelious Benn, WR (Rookie)
At 6’1” and 219 pounds, Benn is just shy of the “prototypical” desired size for a WR. What gave him an edge over most college defenders was his strength. He carries his weight well and his muscle mass certainly doesn’t impede his speed or quickness. His 38 receptions, 490 yards, and two TDs last year at Illinois is disturbing, but much of that can be attributed to horrible QB play from Juice Williams. He has the ability and opportunity to make an impact as soon as 2010.
Mike Williams, WR (Rookie)
Now here’s a fun guy to take a chance on! Williams’ talent is undeniable. Take out his checkered history of off the field incidents, and he’s a first-round pick in the NFL Draft based on incredible talent. Unfortunately, every person who takes a chance on Williams will be navigating some stormy seas. He could easily be the steal of the 2010 Draft or out of the league in three years. From all indications, he’s had a wonderful spring and summer, leading many to believe the Buccaneers are much closer to offensive relevance than some would previously believe.
Players with Falling Values
Derrick Ward, RB
Ward was a huge disappointment last year when many expected him to take over as the lead dog in the backfield. Instead, the resurgent Cadillac Williams had nearly twice the carries of Ward. Combine that with his age and Ward is dropping like an anchor.
Maurice Stovall, WR
Stovall was a major sleeper out of Notre Dame a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the transition to the NFL has been a tough one. He did catch 24 passes last year for 366 yards, but he’s proven to be nothing special.
Michael Clayton, WR
Clayton is one of the biggest fantasy football disappointments of the last decade. After an extremely promising start (80 receptions, 1,193 yards, seven TDs in his 2004 rookie season), he’s followed up with 141 receptions, 1,743 yards, and three TDs combined in the last five seasons. That type of cataclysmic dropoff for a young WR is almost unprecedented. It’s time to jump ship.
Cadillac Williams, RB
It’s pretty unusual to list a former fantasy football hero as a sleeper, but the boot fits here. Cadillac enjoyed a fine 2009 with 823 yards on 211 carries. That’s nowhere near No. 1 RB numbers, but he’s being drafted way too late in startup dynasty leagues. In the recent dynasty experts league, he was taken at #204 overall. I see him as a valuable No. 3 RB for the next couple of seasons, worthy of a pick at least four rounds sooner. He’s a player you can get on the cheap now who could help this season. Cap’n Morris has gone on record saying the offense will run through Caddy.
Josh Johnson, QB
Something bad would have to happen to Freeman for Johnson to have value, but this San Diego product has talent and showed some of it in spot duty last year. Rumor had it more than a few teams attempted to acquire him during the draft and were turned down. Add to that the jettisons of Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich, and you could have a Matt Schaub-like backup QB situation in the future.
Aye, the Buccaneers are a bunch of young, salty dogs looking to develop into worthy pirates. Mining through this group won’t leave you with scurvy as there is often more treasure in fantasy football than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island. Look closely, as the horizon for some of these players isn’t at the edge of the world.
Bring me one noggin of rum now, won’t you, matey?