Fri Jul 11 04:54pm EDT
The Juggernaut Index is our annual attempt to rank every NFL team for fantasy purposes. We're not concerned with real-life wins and losses here. No, here we just care about imaginary winning. If an NFL team gains lots of yardage, limits turnovers, and scores when they reach the red zone, then you'll want to own their skill position players in fantasy leagues. You'll find those teams at the top of the Juggernaut Index. We began at No. 32, the worst of the worst, and we're working our way to the elite fantasy offenses.
These rankings rely on hard, incontrovertible math. There are algorithms at work. This stuff is peer-reviewed. Seasons are simulated. You can't argue with science, so don't even try...
If you like aging players with low ceilings, this is your team.
There are no obvious breakout candidates in Tampa, just a few guys who might be able to do something they've done before.
Earnest Graham is ranked No. 21 among running backs for fantasy purposes. Jeff Garcia is the No. 22 quarterback, and Joey Galloway is the No. 25 wide receiver. Those guys will all be drafted in your league, but with limited expectations.
Graham, of course, was extremely useful last year. After Carnell Williams' season-ending, career-threatening patellar tendon injury, the un-drafted Graham soon became a fantasy star. He finished with 898 rushing yards, 49 receptions, and 10 TDs. He scored at least one touchdown in every Bucs game from Week 9 to Week 15.
Will he do it again? Well, the Bucs have a respectable O-line, and the 5-9, 225-pound Graham is a bruising runner, difficult for any single tackler to bring down. Williams has reportedly made terrific progress in his recovery, but it still seems unlikely that he'll threaten Graham's carries at the beginning of the season:
Tampa Bay opens training camp in less than a month and Williams is not ready for contact. As a result, Williams likely will begin this season on the physically unable to perform list.
However, Graham still may not have the Tampa rushing workload entirely to himself. The 33-year-old Warrick Dunn will be involved:
"I see (Dunn) as being a front-line guy," Gruden said. "He is going to play a lot."
Michael Bennett is also lurking, and the Bucs will apparently visit with Kevin Jones next week. Because they're trying to assemble a killer 2004 fantasy roster. Graham received a contract extension in late-June, but it was fairly modest, and lacked guaranteed money.
The uncertainty surrounding Graham has resulted in a lower average draft position than you might expect for a guy coming off a double-digit TD season. His current ADP at Mock Draft Central is 34.0.
If we're drafting today, I'd be willing to take him there...and not much earlier. Graham's handcuffs aren't of interest, fantasy-wise.
The 38-year-old Garcia threw only 13 touchdown passes in his 13 games last season. It's difficult to imagine a significantly better year in '08, given the receivers he'll have at his disposal. The Tampa offense produced 18 passing TDs in '07, 14 in '06, and 17 in '05. Garcia is really just a bye-week option in 10-team public leagues.
The 36-year-old Galloway caught six TDs last year and topped 1,000 yards, but he was a complete dud in the fantasy (and real-life) playoffs due to a shoulder injury. Ike Hilliard had a much better season than anyone expected (62 receptions, 722 yards, one TD), but it wasn't enough to achieve fantasy relevance. Antonio Bryant is a nice late-round flier in larger leagues. He's had productive seasons before, and he's only 27. (Commonly accepted style guidelines require us to refer to him as "troubled receiver Antonio Bryant" at least once, so there it is).
Here are a few more unranked Bucs you're not drafting, in no particular order: Alex Smith, Michael Clayton, Maurice Stovall, Ben Troupe, and rookie WR Dexter Jackson. Quite a collection of failed sleepers there, eh?
The Tampa defense belongs on someone's roster. They finished tied for sixth among all team defenses in fantasy scoring (152 points), and they limited opponents to the third-fewest points per game (16.9) and second-lowest average yardage (278.4). Barrett Ruud is the best IDP option (114 tackles, two INT, three forced fumbles).
Yes, there are some Bucs worth owning. But unless Graham repeats his '07 performance over a full 16 games, none of them are going to carry a fantasy team.
2007 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats
Rushing: 117.0 Y/G
Passing: 209.8 Y/G
Points per game: 20.9
Red Zone possessions and TDs: 46, 20
'08 Schedule strength: .469
The rest of the Index...