Faceoff: Josh Freeman
Anthony Borbely: Josh Freeman is in a tough spot as he enters his second season as the starting QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had some success last year, but like most rookie QBs, was largely inconsistent and prone to mistakes. In his nine starts, Freeman threw for over 1800 yards and 12 TDs, was picked off 20 times, and only had four games with 11 or more fantasy points. To be honest, he had very little help outside of TE Kellen Winslow Jr. But the outlook for this year does not appear to be much better.
The Buccaneers very well could have not one, but TWO rookies starting at WR. Don't get me wrong, I really like both Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams and they are loaded with talent, but depending on two rookies to play a large role in an offense with an inexperienced QB is an awful lot to ask. Sammie Stroughter is expected to be the slot receiver and this is only his second year. Freeman himself is still raw and learning how to play QB at the NFL level. Talent or not, asking an inexperienced group like this to post solid fantasy numbers is a bit much in my opinion. I also have to remind you that the Buccaneers have very little in the way of viable options. If any of the young WRs do not come through, the potential replacements are Reggie Brown, Maurice Stovall, and Michael Clayton. That is a scary proposition.
The running game is another concern for the Bucs. The return of Cadillac Williams was a great story and he did finish with over 1000 yards from scrimmage, but Williams does not do enough to force defenses to pay extra attention to him. He also had eight games with less than 50 rushing yards and that puts a lot of pressure on the QB. Defenses are going to put a lot of pressure on Freeman because they do not have to respect the running game.
Speaking of allowing pressure, the offensive line is not very good. Their best lineman is left tackle Donald Penn and while he was solid in pass protection, he also had 11 penalties. That kills drives and creates a lot of third and longs. For a young QB like Freeman, that is a recipe for disaster. Center Jeff Faine is a decent player, but the rest of the line is well below average. I was surprised that the Bucs did not draft any offensive linemen in the NFL draft.
Josh Freeman has plenty of talent, but there are simply too many reasons to avoid him in drafts this year. He is inexperienced and so are most of his WRS. At this point, I think both rookie WRS will start for the Buccaneers. That is a great move for the long-term, but I think it limits Freeman's upside this year. Freeman will probably endure another wildly inconsistent year and I do not see any reason to draft him in a standard 12-team league. There are simply too many red flags and the majority of them are related to the inexperience of Freeman and his WRs.