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Per the request of several Pewter Insider subscribers, Pewter Report has decided to dedicate this week’s Flynn’s Focus column to Fantasy Football as it pertains to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The bad news is there aren’t going to be a whole lot of big-time point producers on Tampa Bay’s offense, which is a work in progress and features several talented, but inexperienced players.
There are, however, are handful of Bucs players worth drafting in Fantasy Football leagues. Let’s take a closer look.
QB Brian Griese: There’s no quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay as Griese enters the 2005 regular season as the starting signal caller. The fact that he tossed 20 touchdown passes and 2,632 yards in just 11 games last season suggests Griese will top both of those numbers through 16 games this season, assuming he can stay healthy. Head coach Jon Gruden’s version of the West Coast offense has been pass oriented in nature since his arrival in 2002. That, along with the fact that Griese has some viable targets to throw to in the passing game, gives Griese a good shot of throwing for nearly 3,500 yards and 30-something touchdowns in 2005. Those stats make Griese a valuable backup or even a point-producing starter seeing as only four quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre) threw 30 or more touchdown passes last season. If your league takes points away for interceptions thrown, be warned that Griese tossed 12 picks last season and could throw more interceptions in 2005 if his offensive line, which is suspect, can’t protect him on a consistent basis or give him a running game to work with.
WR Michael Clayton: Although he led all rookie receivers in receptions and yardage in 2004, Clayton will be hard pressed to turn in a repeat performance this season. In 2004, Clayton hauled in 80 passes for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns, which means defenses will spend more time game planning for him, which will likely lead to more double teams. He’s no Randy Moss or Marvin Harris, but Clayton, who is pretty durable and has established himself as the go-to receiver in Tampa Bay’s offense, will make for a good number two or three receiver on any Fantasy team.
WR Joey Galloway: As the general manger of your Fantasy team, selecting Galloway will turn out to be a genius or insane decision, depending on whether or not the speedster can stay healthy. Despite missing six games with a torn groin in 2004, Galloway hauled in 33 passes for 416 yards and scored five touchdowns. He probably won’t catch more than about 70 passes, but Galloway is a big-play threat and could give Fantasy teams some points by scoring touchdowns this season. Galloway might be worth taking as a backup receiver, and he’s by no means a sure bet to be a boom or a bust. He might be worth the risk, but use one of your later picks to draft him.
RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams: Tampa Bay hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn accomplished that feat in 2000. The Bucs’ running woes under Gruden won’t exactly prompt Fantasy players to use one of their top picks on Williams, the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Williams will likely split carries with Michael Pittman to start the season, and Pittman, not Williams, will probably see the field the most on third-down passing situations because of Pittman’s ability to pick up blitzes. However, Williams is still worthy of drafting this year. He’ll get more carries as the season goes on, and Gruden plans to use Williams, not fullback Mike Alstott, as the goal line back. While he may not rush for more than 900 yards, Williams could score as many as 10 touchdowns for your Fantasy team. Taking Williams as a backup running back could turn out to be a tremendous value.
TE Anthony Becht: Becht isn’t regarded as a pass-catching tight end, which might make you wonder why he’s worth considering for your Fantasy team. However, Gruden plans to use Becht more as a receiver, especially in the red zone, where Griese will throw play-action passes in Becht’s direction quite often. Tampa Bay will use two-tight end sets a lot, which means rookie TE Alex Smith could take away some catches from Becht. But Becht might still be worth investing a late-round draft pick in since his biggest stats will likely be in the touchdown column.
Tampa Bay Defense: Although Tampa Bay lost three starters – safety Dwight Smith, linebacker Ian Gold and defensive tackle Chartric Darby – in free agency, this unit still figures to be one of the top five defenses in most Fantasy Football leagues. The Bucs won’t allow a lot of points, and they’re always good for creating some turnovers and points on defense. That said, you can’t go wrong by selecting the Tampa Bay defense.
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