Sleeper Alert: Josh Freeman

Sleeper Alert: Josh Freeman

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Jul 3, 2013

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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There's no doubt about it -- QB is deep this year. There are no fewer than 12 solid-to-great starters, and provided they can all stay healthy through training camp, most fantasy owners shouldn't have a problem getting a Tony Romo-type talent in the middle rounds on draft day.

But for those owners who are Romo-adverse, or those that are in leagues with 14 or more teams, finding a good starting QB at a discount can be kind of a chore. One option is to follow C.D. Carter's QBBWW (Quarterback By Waiver Wire) strategy, but as the number of teams (or number of roster spots) increases, it can become difficult to find good options on the waiver wire week-to-week.

I was in a 20-team league last year and drafted Josh Freeman as my starter. Things were great for the first 13 games:

Week Opp Comp Att Yds TD Int
1 CAR 16 24 138 1 0
2 @ NYG 15 28 243 2 2
3 @ DAL 10 28 110 1 1
4 WAS 24 39 299 1 1
6 KAN 15 26 328 3 1
7 NOR 24 42 420 3 0
8 @ MIN 19 36 262 3 0
9 @ OAK 18 30 247 2 0
10 SDG 14 20 210 2 0
11 @ CAR 25 46 248 3 2
12 ATL 19 30 256 0 0
13 @ DEN 18 39 242 2 1
14 PHI 14 34 189 2 0
  Average 17.8 32.5 245.5 1.9 0.6
  Prorated 284 519 3929 30.8 9.8

To this point, Freeman had posted #11 QB numbers, and was ahead of Romo, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson in the QB standings. Prorating those averages to16 games would have yielded almost 4,000 yards and 31 TDs. He was heading into a great Week 15 matchup with the Saints and a decent matchup with the Rams in Week 16. This is what happened in the last three weeks:

Week Opp Comp Att Yds TD Int
15 @ NOR 26 47 279 0 4
16 STL 30 54 372 1 4
17 @ ATL 19 35 222 1 1
  Average 25.0 45.3 291.0 0.7 3.0
  Prorated 400 725 4656 10.7 48.0

He actually wasn't terrible in Week 17 -- the Bucs managed to beat the Falcons -- but given his eight interceptions in Week 15 and Week 16, he was on pace to throw 48 interceptions over a 16-game season based on this three-game average.

Freeman finished the 2012 season as the #13 fantasy QB, so why is he the #22 QB off the board in early drafts with a 14th round ADP?

His late-season performance justifiably angered HC Greg Schiano, who proceeded to send Freeman mixed signals throughout the offseason. This, along with the team's decision to draft Mike Glennon in the 3rd round of the draft, gives the impression that Freeman is on thin ice as the Buccaneers' starter.

But Schiano recently came out in support of Freeman while appearing on the NFL Network:

"I believe in competition, and Mike Glennon is going to be a tremendous quarterback in his time," Schiano said. "But we have a quarterback, it's Josh Freeman. He had a really good spring. I think it's really coming together, being in this system for a second year now and hearing the things over again after being able to study it, I'm really encouraged.

"I know Mike Sullivan, our offensive coordinator, he's encouraged. We're looking forward to big things. Josh is going to have a big year."

 

Bottom Line

Freeman is being drafted behind what I call "improved-environment" players like Sam Bradford, who has seen an influx of young (and unproven) talent in his receiving corps, along with Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers, who should benefit from the arrival of strong offensive minds Marc Trestman and Mike McCoy, respectively. (Though I'm not sure the argument holds for Rivers, who was playing for Norv Turner, another strong offensive mind.)

Meanwhile, Freeman is in the second year of Sullivan's system, throwing to the same players -- namely Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams -- as last season. He did lose TE Dallas Clark, though the team seems to be high on Luke Stocker as Clark's replacement. Kevin Ogletree is in at WR3 and Doug Martin is a capable receiver out of the backfield.

Over the past three seasons, Freeman has finished 7th, 16th and 13th in total QB points, so even with an influx of talent at the position, he's a good bet to finish higher than his 22nd ADP would indicate. He should make a fine QB2 (with upside), and while his schedule is mediocre, two of his first three games (NO, @NE) appear to be good matchups, so he's a good guy to target in a QBBWW or QBBC (Quarterback By Committee) strategy. Freeman's schedule meshes well with Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning and Alex Smith:

QB W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12 W13 W14 W15 W16 W17
J.Freeman
QB-16
13
@NYJ
28
NO
25
@NE
2
ARI
BYE 30
PHI
10
@ATL
11
CAR
7
@SEA
14
MIA
10
ATL
27
@DET
11
@CAR
32
BUF
4
SF
18
@STL
28
@NO
A.Smith
QB-24
29
@JAX
15
DAL
30
@PHI
22
NYG
20
@TEN
31
OAK
12
HOU
6
CLE
32
@BUF
BYE 8
@DEN
26
SD
8
DEN
17
@WAS
31
@OAK
19
IND
26
@SD

Schedule difficulty based on opponent's defensive ranking against QBs. Top defense = 1, bottom defense = 32.

QB W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12 W13 W14 W15 W16 W17
E.Manning
QB-13
15
@DAL
8
DEN
11
@CAR
24
@KC
30
PHI
3
@CHI
16
MIN
30
@PHI
BYE 31
OAK
21
GB
15
DAL
17
@WAS
26
@SD
7
SEA
27
@DET
17
WAS
J.Freeman
QB-16
13
@NYJ
28
NO
25
@NE
2
ARI
BYE 30
PHI
10
@ATL
11
CAR
7
@SEA
14
MIA
10
ATL
27
@DET
11
@CAR
32
BUF
4
SF
18
@STL
28
@NO

Schedule difficulty based on opponent's defensive ranking against QBs. Top defense = 1, bottom defense = 32.

QB W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12 W13 W14 W15 W16 W17
J.Freeman
QB-16
13
@NYJ
28
NO
25
@NE
2
ARI
BYE 30
PHI
10
@ATL
11
CAR
7
@SEA
14
MIA
10
ATL
27
@DET
11
@CAR
32
BUF
4
SF
18
@STL
28
@NO
R.Tannehill
QB-25
6
@CLE
19
@IND
10
ATL
28
@NO
9
BAL
BYE 32
BUF
25
@NE
5
CIN
23
@TB
26
SD
11
CAR
13
@NYJ
1
@PIT
25
NE
32
@BUF
13
NYJ

Schedule difficulty based on opponent's defensive ranking against QBs. Top defense = 1, bottom defense = 32.

 

Filed Under: Preseason, 2013

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