Ahh, the good old days. You used to be able to draft a QB in the first round of the NFL Draft and let him sit until he was good and ready to play. Those days seem to be over as the pressure of ownership and fans, combined with exorbitant salaries force coaches to play their precious projects earlier than anticipated. Many fold under the pressure, while a few show glimpses that give a team hope for the future. Such is the case with Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Freeman is a player who deserves some serious evaluation in dynasty leagues, so we put him squarely under the heat of the dynasty spotlight.
Josh Freeman’s Freshman year at Kansas State left more questions than answers when he threw for 1,780/6/15, with a completion percentage of just under 52%. Freeman did what you hope from a young signal caller and improved steadily, though. After a nice Sophomore season, he posted a 2,945/20/8 line in his Junior year. Another year would have served him well, but he decided it was time to move on and the Buccaneers snatched him up with the 17th overall pick in 2009.
His first and only season with Tampa Bay had some highs and lows for sure. He was thrown into the fire in week #7 and started his first game in week #9 against Green Bay. His ups (3 TDs and 1 INT against the Packers that week), and his downs (0 TDs and 8 INTs in weeks #13 and #14 combined) were extreme. However, he showed flashes of the “it” factor that can’t be denied and finished with a respectable 1,855/10/18 with a completion percentage of 54.5% and also rushed for 161 yards. Not a good stat line for Drew Brees, but not bad for a rookie QB with very little to work with on the offensive side of the football. He made his share of mistakes, but also showed the ability to get out of trouble and make some plays. That ability can’t be overstated or coached.
Freeman’s size and athletic ability are great for a QB. He stands 6’6″ and weighs right around 250 lbs. The recent movie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” certainly wasn’t referring to Freeman’s childhood. He’s a very big man, but won’t be confused with JaMarcus Russell, either. His arm is extremely strong as well – there really isn’t a throw he can’t make on the field. All in all, there’s a whole lot to like here.
I’ve gone on record saying this situation is a lot better than many think. Raheem Morris is completely committed to Freeman’s development and this offseason has featured Freeman being completely committed to his team in the film room. Add to that work ethic a talented TE in Kellen Winslow and two very highly touted WRs in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams and you have a nucleus with a lot of potential. It would be nice to see Tampa with a young RB in the fold, but Cadillac Williams has surprised us all before.
Outlook and Strategy
Freeman has everything going his way to become a solid #2 QB as early as this season and possibly develop into a #1 later in his career. His average draft position in startup drafts is right around #175 (he was taken at #199 in our recent Dynasty Experts League Draft), but I’d actually start considering him right around #150 overall as a young, developmental QB with big upside.
I believe Freeman is being undervalued in most league circles. While there’s no guarantee he’ll reach stardom, I’d much rather have him over many other young signal callers out there. He has a dedicated coach and organization, track record for improvement, a host of new weapons, and a great set of physical tools. That sounds like a worthwhile combination to me.