Well that was fast.
From Josh Freeman’s brief stint as a starter for the Bucs back in 2009, you could tell the kid had enough talent to one day emerge as a sizable force in the NFL. But did anybody think it would happen so soon?
With the amount of youth the Buccaneers employed at the beginning of last season (started 2010 with the second youngest roster in the NFL), one would have rightly deduced that Tampa Bay was in the midst of a full-on rebuilding mode.
However, when Freeman led his band of merry youngsters to a tidy 5-3 record during the first half of the season, questions began to surface as to whether or not this deduction was valid. With three of those wins taking place on the road, along with their three losses coming to playoff-bound Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Atlanta, it was clear the Bucs were more than just a mishmash of raw, developing talent looking to learn on the job.
The leader of this orange-clad, tenderfoot crew was 22-year-old Josh Freeman; a quarterback whose physical stature and enormity could only be rivaled by his equally immense potential. The Bucs drafted him as a first-round project back in the 2009 NFL draft fully expecting at least a couple years of maturation before handing him the keys to the car.
However, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
The Bucs would finish the 2010 season with a 10-6 record, just a tiebreaker short of the team’s first playoff berth since 2007 and seven games better than the previous year (biggest jump in the NFL).
Freeman, too, would wind up with some pretty staggering numbers:
In his first season as a full-time starter, Josh threw for 3,451 yards with a 61.4 percent completion percentage, 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. That’s right, six interceptions. His 25-6 TD-to-INT ratio was the second best in the entire league (next to Tom Brady’s 36-4) while his 274.4 fantasy points would be enough to rank him eighth amongst all QBs.
Another incredible stat linked to the burgeoning, young Tampa QB was that in Week 16 of last season, Freeman became the 35th quarterback since the NFL-AFL merger to throw for five or more TDs in a game without tossing a single interception.
Rare company indeed.
It’s kind of staggering how quickly this kid rose up the ranks of fantasy QBs. I’ll be interested to see if he can continue his ascension in 2011, though with the amount of talent at the position nowadays, it’s doubtful he would be able to rise more than just a step.
Even if he falters a tad, Josh Freeman has become a borderline starter in 10- or 12-man leagues at this point and has even more value in keeper leagues.
Draft this beastly phenom accordingly.
2011 Pros and Cons
(+) Freeman has unbelievable size (6’6”, 248 lbs) and has no problem using it to his advantage
(+) Shows incredible leadership qualities at a mere 23-years of age
(+) Though the Bucs were the second-youngest team at the beginning of the 2010 season, Josh was able to lead them to a 10-6 record while just missing the playoffs
(+) Despite his immense size, Freeman has deceptive speed as he turned in the second-most QB rushing yards in the league last season (Vick)
(+) Freeman will have more time to produce from the pocket this season with the emergence of running back LeGarrette Blount keeping defenses honest
(+) Being both in Tampa Bay and the NFC South, Freeman has the advantage of playing most of his games either indoors or in warm weather
(+) Had the league’s second best TD-to-INT ratio (25 TDs, 6 INTs) next to Tom Brady which led to one of the best passer ratings in the NFL (95.9)
(–) In 2010, Freeman had the least amount of passing attempts for QBs who played in all 16 games while as a team, the Buccaneers have passed less and less for three years in a row
(–) Freeman had nine separate games in which he threw for just one or zero touchdowns
(–) Though he was eighth in the league in total fantasy points (274.4), Freeman had just one game the entire season where he put up more than 20 fantasy points in a game
For the rest of Josh Freeman's Player Profile, CLICK HERE
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