2012 Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were eagerly looking forward to building upon their 10-6 2010 season.  They had a big time quarterback, a hot young receivers, and great running game, and a young defense that was getting better with every game. In fact, I personally had very high hopes for the Bucs last season, especially after winning my fantasy season the year before with Josh Freeman as my QB, and LaGarrette Blount as my #2 RB.  Head Coach Raheem Morris guaranteed us all that the Bucs were playoff bound and it would be the return of the powerful defense that we have seen in the past.  Well, no such luck.  Tampa went 4-12, the QB threw for more INTs than TDs, no 1000 yard receiver, no 1000 yard rusher, the defense was ranked 30th overall, and Coach Morris was kicked out of Florida.  So, back to the drawing board for the Bucs.  They have a new head coach, a stud free agent WR from San Diego, a stud free agent TE form Indy, a 2012 first round RB, and a more experienced young defense with corner out of legal trouble, and a veteran DB who recently made the move to safety, and who happens to be older than the former head coach.  It remains to be seen whether the Bucs can rebound from last season.

Fantasy Football Studs: It is very clear that someone likes Josh Freeman as a Fantasy quarterback, but he will have to show me a lot to be considered a stud.  But he does have some new stud targets that will help him move to Stud Status.  Vincent Jackson is a 1000 yard receiver that kicked and screamed his way out of San Diego.  He’s big and fast and will help stretch the field for Tampa. On the other side is Mike Williams, who had a very good rookie season, but couldn’t catch a cold in his second year.  Williams will definitely benefit with the presence of Jackson.  He and Freeman will also enjoy the arrival of Dallas Clark, who is listed as a TE, but will really play the role of a third receiver.  Clark really blossomed when he had Peyton Manning taking snaps but  faded out last year, as did every other Colt who was once relevant in the Fantasy world.  The Bucs have other quality pieces, but they have all been relegated to role positions, but one or two of them could emerge as a fantasy stud.  But the’s no telling which one will.

Area of Strength:  For sure, with the presence of free agents Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark, the Bucs will have a much improved receiver corp and passing game.  In 2010, Josh Freeman threw for 25 TDs and just 6 INTs.  Last year it was a terrible 16 touchdowns and 22 picks.  Which Freeman will show up?  In defense of Freeman, he did have an underachieving receiving crew, who developed a case of the dropsies.  This year, with the new additions, the passing game will be much improved.  Also, the drafting of rookie RB Doug Martin from Boise State, will help out the passing game greatly.  Martin is a an every down back who can pass protect and catch balls out of the back field.  With Martin and LaGarrette Blount as a one two punch, Freeman has all the necessary weapons to move the ball all over the field.  The rest will be up to him.

Area of Weakness:  Well, to say the defense for Tampa Bay was a major disappointment last year, is an understatement.  But it’s a new year and new hope for improvement.  They were ranked 30th overall, and the secondary have up 30 touchdowns.  That’s why they had 37 year old Ronde Barber move to the safety position, and they brought in free agent Eric Wright to play the corner opposite standout Aquib Talib, who just might have gotten past all of his off the field legal problems.  Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy has big play ability, but he, along with fellow DT Brian Price, have spent the last two seasons off the field dealing with injuries, to make any kind of contribution to help the Bucs.  The defense should be better, but for now, they are the team weakness.

2012 Marquee Matchups:   In addition to those tough divisional matchups, the Bucs have a few other interesting games.  In fact things are going to be tough right out of the gate as the Bucs face division rival Carolina but then most of the NFC East right after with the Superbowl Champion Giants Week 2, Dallas Cowboys Week 3, then Washington Week 4.  They will enjoy that Week 5 bye.  Then sandwiched between another round of division rivals, the Bucs face Denver Week 13 and Philadelphia Week 14.  They have a rocky schedule.  Hang in there Bucs fans.

All Things Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Here are a few we like…

Blogs:  Bucs Nation http://www.bucsnation.com/ ; The Pewter Plank http://thepewterplank.com/ ; Joe Bucs Fan http://www.joebucsfan.com/

Apps:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (by YinzCam, Inc)

Fan Clubs: The official fan club of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can be found on www.buccaneers.com under fan zone.

2012 Preview: Carolina Panthers

The 2012 Carolina Panthers is coming off of the “Year of Cam”.  Cam Newton splashed onto the NFL shutting up all of the naysayers who said he wasn’t an NFL quarterback.  He had one of the most successful rookie seasons of any incoming QB, and he single-handedly breathed new life into the Panthers and its anemic offense.  He also helped with the re-emergence of one of the league’s most exciting WRs.  But with the success of the offense, there was the downfall of the Panther defense, resulting in a 6-10 season.  This year the Panthers will look to continue the offensive success with the continued development of Newton, a strong running game, and an improved defense.  Time will tell.

Fantasy Football Studs: Several Panthers have the potential to be Studs, but there are only 2 players with guaranteed stud status.  Cam Newton became a fantasy studs the moment he hit the field.  He threw for over 4000 yards, showing that he had what it takes to be a QB in this league.  He also added over 700 yards on the ground, which netted 14 rushing TDs.  On the receiving end on over 1300 of those passing yards was Steve Smith, who just two seasons ago had to listen to rumblings of diminishing skills and the possibilities of taking a reserved role with a new team. But with the presence of a new QB and almost instant chemistry with the rookie phenom, Smith quieted his critics and enjoyed a comeback season.  Also in the mix are RBs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and newly acquired fullback Mike Tolbert.  All three of these players have stud potential as long as they are used.  Last season, Williams and Stewart were underused much to the chagrin of fantasy owners everywhere.

Area of Strength:   The Panthers have many strengths on the offensive side of the ball, but the strength they need to utilize the most is the running game.  Last year, Cam Newton was the offensive catalyst and the main man in the running game, mostly because the Panthers played from behind.  But this year, they plan to use both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who both have 1000 yard potential.  This will keep the opposing offenses off the field and place the momentum fully in favor of the Panthers.  This will also sustain and preserve their QB.  We all know, Newton does have Vick-like rushing potential, but that also makes him susceptible to Vick-like injuries.  And when you add in lead blocker, Mike Tolbert, who has had back to back double-digit TD seasons with the Chargers, the Panthers have the potential to be the #1 rushing team in the league this season. 

Area of Weakness: The weakness is most assuredly the Panther defense.  This defense put ZERO pressure on the opposing teams quarterbacks.  The leading individual sack total was 4.  Pathetic.  They also failed to keep opponents out of the end zone as well.  The defense held none of their opponents under 10 points, and only two of their opponents were held under 17 points.  In fact, 8 teams scored 30 or more points on this defense.  Yes, they had some injuries, but they could barely defend an SEC college squad, let alone and NFL offense.  They hope to have more success with the drafting of LB Luke Luechley, and the return of LBs Thomas Davis and Jon Beason, and defensive tackle Ron Edwards, all coming of injuries.

2012 Marquee Matchups:   In addition to the division games, the Panthers have a few great matchups.  Week 3 in a Thursday Night showdown, the Panthers face Superbowl Champs NY Giants.  Week  is the Panther’s bye week and then their schedule gets interesting facing the following teams back to back:  Dallas, Chicago, Washington, Denver, Tampa Bay, then Philly!  PS:  That Philly game is a Monday nighter in Philly.  Hope the Panthers are ready.  That’s a great stretch of games right there.

All Things Carolina Panthers: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Carolina Panthers.  Here are a few we like…

Blogs:  Cat Scratch Reader http://www.catscratchreader.com/ ; Cat Crave http://catcrave.com/ ; Carolina Huddle http://www.carolinahuddle.com/index.html

Apps: Carolina Panters Mobile (by YinzCam, Inc.)

Fan Clubs:   The official Panthers fan club can be found on www.panthers.com under fan zone. 

2012 Preview: Atlanta Falcons

The 2012 Atlanta Falcons have a huge opportunity to win the division this year with all the turmoil  that the Saints are dealing with.  They have successfully erased the memory of the past .  They have consistently made the playoffs and have been battling with the Saints for division championships every year.  But the Falcons are always one or two steps behind when making the push to the conference title game, or better yet, the second round of the playoffs.  They have one the most consistent QBs, an All Pro WR, a future Hall of Fame TE, and a top 10 RB.  They were able to add a “shutdown” corner in the offseason to help out the defense.  It’s not quite now or never, but the Falcons need to make their move this year.  It’s long overdue.

Fantasy Football Studs:   The Falcons have a lot of weapons in their arsenal.  Matt Ryan is not yet considered an elite quarterback, but he can get it done for you on a weekly basis in the fantasy world.  Mainly because he has WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones.  White is still the main man in the passing game, though he hD a couple of slip ups last season.  Even with him not having a record-breaking season last year, he still managed over 1200 yards and 8 TDs. On the other side of the field is “#2″ receiver Jones, who would definitely be a number 1 on just about every other team in the NFL.  He’s big, he’s fast, he’s a TO type with better hands and better sense.  TE Tony Gonzalez is still getting it done after all these years.  Entering in his 16th season in the league, he’s coming off an 80 catch, 875 yard season.  Lastly in the cache of weapons that the Falcons have is RB Michael Turner.  Turner is still fast and still hits hard.  He will continue to be the centerpiece of Atlanta’s offense.

Area of Strength:  The strength of this team could very be the running game.  But as good as the running game is in Atlanta, the real strength is the passing game.  Matt Ryan has slowly improved year after year since coming into the league in 2008.  Last year was his best statistical year, topping 4000 yards for the first time in his short career.  He also had a 92.2 passer rating, his highest in his NFL tenure, and he threw for 29 TDs, also his highest.  He now has the necessary weapons for Him yo continue to go forward and get the Falcons over that hump of making it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Area of Weakness:  It’s going to be interesting to watch what the Falcons will do on defense this season.  On paper, the defensive unit looks strong.  They have some big names with John Abraham and Ray Edwards on the front line, and Brent Grimes and newly acquired Asante Samuel on the defensive backfield.  But will the Falcons be able to put it all together on the field.  Much like their division mates, the Saints, the defensive team couldn’t stop anybody last year, with the exception of the Colts.  They are going to have to be stingy against the run to make any kind of impact.  This is the biggest hurdle that the Falcons would need to jump over to get pass the first round of the playoffs.

2012 Marquee Matchups:   In addition to the divisional match ups, here are a few other key games.  Week 2 the Falcons face Peyton Manning on MNF.  Weeks 8 and 9 the Falcons will get tested by the Eagles and then the Cowboys.  Week 16 the Falcons will host the Superbowl Champion New York Giants.  Christmas week they will also play the steadily improving Detriot Lions. 

All Things Atlanta Falcons: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Atlanta Falcons.  Here are a few we like…

Blogs:  The Falcoholic http://www.thefalcoholic.com/ ;  Blogging Dirty http://bloggingdirty.com/ 

Apps: YinzCam Inc. does have an app for the Atlanta Falcons.  It just says 2011…hopefully there will be an updated one for this season

Fan Clubs:  The official fan club of the Atlanta Falcons can be found at www.atlantafalcons.com under fan zone.  There is also Falcons Roost http://www.falconsroost.com/

2012 Preview: New Orleans Saints

The 2012 New Orleans Saints have had the quietest off season of any team in the NFL, unless you count that whole BountyGate thing.  I’m sure by now, you’ve heard all about it:  the suspensions of defensive coach Joe Vitt, defensive end Will Smith, general manager Mickey Loomis, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, and the biggest loss, in my opinion, head coach Sean Payton.  Loomis also had to deal with the allegations that he spied on other teams from the skybox.  All shameful stuff.  It’s even more pitiful because the Saints had a good chance to contend for a Super Bowl appearance this year based on last season’s performance.  They went 13-3, winning their last  8 regular season games, and losing a heartbreaker to the 49ers by 4 points in a divisional playoff game.  The Saints also have one of the best most accurate passers in the game today.  Speaking of said quarterback, he is embattled in a contract dispute, which puts the team in even more hot water.  It’s definitely going to be an interesting season in New Orleans.  Instead of Who Dat, it’s going to be What Now.  Here’s more about the 2012 New Orleans Saints.

Fantasy Football Studs:  The Saints are filled with fantasy football studs on their offense.  Everything starts with QB Drew Brees, who had a record-breaking season last year.  Brees racked up 5476 yards, breaking Dan Marino’s single season passing record.  He also managed 46 passing TDs.  Wow!  Next up is TE Jimmy Graham, who would probably be the best tight end in the NFL if it wasn’t for that guy in New England.  Graham had over 1300 receiving yards to lead all Saints, and 11 TDs, in just his second year in the league.  The Saints have another 100o yard receiver in Marques Colston, who still has some of the best hands in the league, though he developed a slight fumbling problem last year.  Still solid nonetheless.  RB back Darren Sproles happens to be one of the best triple threats in the league.  He can score from the backfield, lining up as a receiver, and as a returner on special teams.  Every team needs a Sproles.  The Saints also have some good role players like RBs Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Chris Ivory, and WRs Lance Moore and Devery Henderson.  Any of these players can score for you, but they are not quite Stud status players.  In fact (except for Sproles) I’m afraid of Saints running backs for Fantasy Football.  That’s more of a testament to how versatile their offense really is! Continue reading

Sunday in the Skybox: NFC South

The NFC South consists of the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Bucs.  The entire news of this division during the off season has been about the New Orleans Saints, their bounty programs, fines, and suspensions.  However over the course of this week we will go into more detail about all the teams in this competitive division. 

Division Superstars: This division is STACKED with Superstars!  Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Roddy White, Steve Smith,  Matt Ryan,  Michael Turner, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blunt, Dallas Clark, Josh Freeman and Marques Colston are a few that stand out.  These fellas bring excitement to fans every Sunday.  Continue reading

2012 Preview: Indianapolis Colts

Call me crazy, but I think its safe to say we don’t know the 2012 Indianapolis Colts.  Unless you are boycotting football, you are aware that Colts owner Jim Irsay has completely changed this team-top to bottom.  Many of his moves have been surprising and have caused mixed emotions for many fans.  I knew that with a 2-11 record that some things certainly needed to change.  But to fire practically everyone seems a bit drastic.    That’s the nostalgic, loyal fan in me.  However the all-good-things-must-end fan in me understands that Irsay made the best (albeit difficult) decisions he could for the long-term improvement of his franchise.  I respect that.  Regardless of how anyone feels, it’s official: Peyton Manning is in Denver and the new starting QB (and face of the franchise) of the 2012 Indianapolis Colts is Andrew Luck.  Here is more about the 2012 Indianapolis Colts. 

Fantasy Football Studs:  Wow, let’s see here.  It used to be that with the presence of Peyton Manning under center, any Colt skill player could be considered a stud.  I remember a few years back when Andre Johnson was a Sunday game time scratch, and I needed a WR to plug-in.  I picked up Austin Collie.  I had no idea who he was, but because he played for the Colts, I figured it was better than nothing.  Two TDs later, Collie was a household name, (at least in my house).  Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury.  This is a new team, new offense, new quarterback.  Collie has a chance to be useful, as well as fellow receiver, Reggie Wayne.  Outside of that, there’s not much else.  Too early to tell. Continue reading

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