Cody Pagels spacer
Should You Draft Him?: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

| More
More articles from Cody Pagels

If all of that stability and predictable excellence of the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons isn’t the kind of thing that keeps you excited, boy have I got a team for you. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are as unpredictable as it gets. Sure, there are lots of extremely talented offensive skill players who will regularly make it onto Sportscenter’s top 10 plays, but beyond that, anything goes.

After losing five of their last six games in 2012 and losing 10 straight to close out 2011, I couldn’t comfortably view them as a playoff team even if they began the season 7-0. I can’t see the Buccaneers winning 12 or more games because the defense is so bad. But because that offense has so much talent and is so inconsistent, I wouldn’t find an 11-5 season to be any more or less likely than a 5-11 showing.

In fantasy, Josh Freeman’s season stats have swung about as violently as any quarterbacks in the league. Over his first four seasons his touchdown-to-interception differential has gone from -8 to +19 to -6 to +10. Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Doug Martin’s week-to-week fantasy totals would be charitably described as roller coasters. The team also added Kevin Ogletree and Peyton Hillis, two modern masters of the random inexplicable breakout performance. Anyone can tell you that Adrian Peterson is good and should be drafted, but this hotbed of variance and total randomness requires something a little bit more indepth. I’ll try to make sense of it and tell you if you should draft him.

(ADP = average draft position. It’s based on data from current 12-team standard scoring drafts. I won’t be analyzing kickers because even hockey players get hotter girlfriends.)

Josh Freeman (ADP: Mid-Round 13): This is entirely an upside call here. His receiving tandem is one of the better combinations in all of football, and he’s shown flashes of great upside in 2010 and 2012. The problem is the matter of 2011, when he was a disaster. He can run, his receivers are good and his running back is one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. If he finds more passing consistency and volume, we could have something here. I recommend pairing him with a Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers-caliber quarterback. I don’t want to use him to back up a more risky starter, because if your early pick busts and Freeman reverts to 2011 form, your season is effectively over. Someone like Andy Dalton or Matt Schaub is better for that situation. However, if I have one of those top studs I would take a flier on Freeman, because if he becomes the stud he’s capable of being, you’ve got a great bargaining chip.

Should you draft him? Yes.

Doug Martin (ADP: 2nd Overall): When I said Martin’s week-to-week fantasy totals are like a roller coaster, I meant he fluctuates wildly between unbelievable performances where he puts up more than 200 yards from scrimmage and multiple touchdowns, and merely excellent performances where he only puts up 100 yards and maybe one touchdown. In his rookie season he had only two dud performances, which is better than most established studs. As I write this I still view Arian Foster as my second overall pick, but I’ll be changing that tune if his injury issues aren’t cleared up soon. Martin is as good a rusher as any back in the league not named Adrian Peterson, he’ll score more touchdowns than Jamaal Charles, he’s a better receiver than Marshawn Lynch, and nobody else really enters the No. 2 overall conversation. I’m going to stay stubborn on Foster for now, but I wouldn’t criticize you in the least for grabbing Martin second.

Should you draft him? Yes.

Peyton Hillis (ADP: Undrafted): Barf. Why isn’t he in the CFL yet? This offseason the Buccaneers lost LeGarrette Blount, a bruising 250-pound running back who followed up an unexpectedly impressive 2010 campaign with two years of general uselessness, questionable work ethic and terrible attitude. They have replaced him with Hillis, a bruising 250-pound running back who followed up an unexpectedly impressive 2010 campaign with two years of general uselessness, questionable work ethic and terrible attitude. This could be the smoothest transition ever made by a free agent. Use the same protocol as you did with Blount and keep him off your fantasy team.

Should you draft him? No.

Brian Leonard/Michael Smith/Mike James (ADP: Undrafted): The Buccaneers don’t really have a clear handcuff for Martin, and I would anticipate a very underwhelming running back by committee if anything happened to Martin. It’s safe to ignore all other Tampa Bay running backs on draft day. If something were to happen to Martin, I would recommend putting the names of all four other backs in a hat and putting a waiver claim on whichever one you pull out.

Should you draft him? No.

Vincent Jackson (ADP: 39th Overall): I never liked Jackson in San Diego. He was always drafted somewhere in Round 3 as a No. 1 receiver. Sure his stats at the end of the season certainly looked like the line of a No. 1 wide receiver, but the majority of those stats came in binges over small periods of time. In 2011, 53 percent of his yards and seven of his nine touchdowns came in four games. Those four games are nice, but I don’t want my No. 1 anything to be bad three-fourths of the time.

Last year in his first season as a Buccaneer he displayed the same tendencies, because 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns made him the sixth-highest scoring wide receiver in standard scoring and certainly makes him look like a stud, but it masks the fact that he had five fantasy points or less in six contests. I don’t like that about him, but I’m OK with drafting him because while he’s still a boom-or-bust player and probably always will be. Last year he hit a career-high in yardage and his fantasy points were much better dispersed than they have been in the past. Furthermore, he’s only going as the 12th receiver off the board. He will still annoy the hell out of me if I own him, but the price and value on display here are downright acceptable.

Should you draft him? Yes.

Mike Williams (ADP: Mid-Round 8): I need someone to explain this one to me, because there has to be something I’m missing. His sophomore season was terrible, but as a rookie he put up a hair under 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, and last year he had a hair under 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns, good for 18th in standard fantasy points among wide receivers. Yet somehow he’s being taken as the 36th receiver off the board. His yardage upside is somewhat limited by his speed, as well as Jackson and Martin being such focal points of the offense, but he kills it in the red zone. I don’t need to speculate to decide if he’s capable of hugely outperforming an eighth-round draft position because I’ve already seen him do it twice. It’s possible he’s one of those weird players who is only good every other year, and it’s possible his inner knucklehead comes out and he decides to take it easy now that he’s been paid, but I will gladly invest an eighth-round pick to find out.

Should you draft him? Yes.

Kevin Ogletree (ADP: Undrafted): Has any player gotten more mileage out of one game than Ogletree? Well, there is a certain quarterback with a propensity for hitting on sideline reporters who rode one game to one of the most undeserved Hall of Fame enshrinements in all of sports, but that’s neither here nor there. Somehow one 114-yard, two-touchdown game still manages to get Ogletree seriously discussed in fantasy columns. It’s humanly possible he makes an impact, but he’s a No. 3 wide receiver who will have to compete with two superior wide receivers and an incredible starting running back for offensive touches. Avoid him in drafts.

Should you draft him? No.

Luke Stocker (ADP: Undrafted): There really isn’t too much to say here. In his first two seasons the Buccaneers have used him much more as a blocker than receiver. A replenished line might mean Stocker gets to go out on routes more, but with so many good tight ends out there, he hasn’t shown anything to indicate that he belongs on your draft board.

Should you draft him? No.