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Sleeper Spotlight: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Luke Stocker, TE TB
Age: 24 (7/17/88)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a very interesting few years. The 2010 season was one filled with surprising production and promise as they shocked almost everyone with a 10-6 record and a rookie quarterback in Josh Freeman who threw for 3,451 yards, rushed for another 364 yards, and had a 25:6 touchdown to interception ratio. They barely missed the playoffs and were looking like one of the NFL’s up and coming offenses.

The 2011 season was a bit of a setback as they were one of the league’s worst teams with only four wins on the season. The running game was weaker and Freeman turned the ball over 22 times compared to only six the season before. His touchdowns also decreased from 25 to only 16. The good news for the passing game is that his yards and completion percentage actually took a step forward. The addition of Vincent Jackson to the roster should only further the passing game for this young team. The biggest question is who else will be stepping up to catch those passes along with Jackson – Luke Stocker just might be that guy.

Stocker is entering his second year in the league after playing his college ball at Tennessee. Prior to the 2011 draft, some had him as a top three tight end in the draft class. He is a big bodied player checking in at 6’5” and a little over 250 pounds. He ran the 40 yard dash in the high 4.6 range, which means his size and speed compares very closely to Jermichael Finley. He has the skill set to be a three down, inline tight end in the NFL. If he earns that role, he would definitely be worth a fantasy roster spot given the lack of proven pass catching options outside of Jackson. Mike Williams was explosive as a rookie, but struggled to regain that dominance last year. The rest of the wide receiver corps either has injury issues or is lacking in the talent department. Outside of LaGarrette Blount or Doug Martin catching passes out of the backfield, the only other competition for catches comes from his own position.

Last year, Stocker played second fiddle to Kellen Winslow Jr. When Winslow was sent packing, there was a brief moment when Stocker had the position locked up. It didn’t last very long as the Bucs decided to add some veteran depth and insurance in the form of Dallas Clark on a one year contract. After missing the majority of last two seasons with injuries, reports from camp are that Clark is looking good and will most likely be the primary pass catching tight end while Stocker fills the main blocking role. Don’t count on this lasting through the season, though. Stocker is the future of the team at the position. He is bigger and faster than Clark. On top of all of it, Clark doesn’t have the best history of playing all 16 games in a season.

Stocker most likely isn’t going to be a top ten tight end this year, but he could be a solid TE2, especially late in the season. He will probably split reps with Clark early in the season, and Tampa’s young offense still needs a little bit of time to mature before he can show his true potential. That doesn’t mean you can sleep on him though. He is someone to stash right now in deeper leagues or to pick up towards the end of this season in more shallow leagues in anticipation of a breakout next year. He will have the talent and the situation during the 2013 season to slide up into the TE1 range.

Get him now while he’s cheap.

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witdog67
10 years ago

As a local Bucs fan, I’m a little worried . If he’s the best sleeper we have, and he might actually be, we’re in trouble again! He’s already hurt again too. I’ve never seen him do anything that really made me say, “wow, good draft pick” or something similar. I hope I’m wrong, obviously, but he gets hurt as much or more than Dallas Clark, and he’s probably 10 years younger. Seems like just another average TE at best to me. I’m certainly not recommending this other guy, but a rookie FA named Noble got some first team reps friday night, he looked good in his uniform, is all I can say there though!

My only other alternate sleeper: Tiquan Underwood. He played for Schiano at Rutgers and may have already locked down the #3 WR spot. Benn has missed most of camp, so who knows. Tiquan is exciting a lot of people down here.

witdog67
Reply to  Jacob Feldman
10 years ago

Stocker = “There are lots of other sleepers on other teams I would take first, but if you really need one from the Bucs, he’s your guy.” = That about sums it up for the Bucs in general, unfortunately for us Bucs fans!

Smith= Looks OK so far on returns, will probably be doing kickoffs at least. His path to playing time on offense is a tough one for the next few years, like you said

Parker = He is a natural football player. Pretty good at everything but not really great at anything either. He got a lot of action last year because we were losing big, and throwing a lot from behind. Everybody knew it and shut down the outside guys leaving Freeman no option but to check down to the slot. Most of his catches seemed like they were for 8 yards on 3rd and 10+. With a better run game (hopefully, he may fall off a cliff)

Underwood = He’s really just going to backup Jackson and Williams, so barring injury he will stay on the bench mostly. He may cut into Parker’s playing time, as may Benn

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