Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman made a statement last season and he's counted among the league's best young passers heading into 2011.
After compiling a TD-interception ratio of 10-18 as a rookie, Freeman threw 25 TD passes and only six picks in '10, and he also rushed for 364 yards, placing second among quarterbacks in that category (only Michael Vick rushed for more yards).
Those numbers put Freeman on the fantasy radar after he didn't really register at this time one year ago, but he's going to need at least another season similar to the one he had in '10 to prove himself as a definite No. 1 fantasy QB. Freeman, who is only 23 years old, is ranked 12th among QBs on PFW's preseason fantasy draft board, placing him in the low-end of potential starting fantasy QBs. Directly ahead of Freeman in the rankings is Eli Manning, who sits a spot behind Matt Ryan. Tony Romo is one place ahead of Ryan.
A case could be be made that Freeman will finish the season with more fantasy points than one, two or all three of those players. If he does as good a job of limiting mistakes and gets more opportunities to throw, his numbers could be right in line with quarterbacks ranked in the next tier. Freeman's not being disrespected with the No. 12 ranking, but he surprised us last season and is very capable of doing it again.
He has a young, but very talented group of receivers and one of the league's better tight ends in Kellen Winslow. Freeman is big enough and mobile enough to make plays even when his pass protection breaks down and he plays with poise in those situations.
For now, however, owners who wait before drafting a No. 1 fantasy QB and make Freeman their top passer would be wise to move quickly to land a solid backup. Consider adding a No. 2 QB a round or two after selecting Freeman. Pairing him with Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco or Matthew Stafford would give an owner a very nice tandem and it could be a soft landing for them if for some reason Freeman took a step back or suffered an injury and needed some time on the bench.
It's time to make Freeman a starter in deep fantasy leagues this year. Owners just to make sure to protect themselves with another good option at quarterback.
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