Despite transitioning from one of the league's best vertical passing attacks to an expected run-heavy offense under a first-year head coach, the change of scenery was positive for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson last year.
In his first season with the Bucs, Jackson set career highs in both receptions (72) and yards (1,384) and scored eight touchdowns. His previous career highs were set back in 2009 with 68 receptions for 1,167 yards.
With the exception of his holdout-shortened season in 2010, Jackson has had 1,000-plus yards in four of the past five years.
Not only did Jackson set career highs in receptions and yards last year, but he led the league in yards per reception (19.2). Only Cincinnati's A.J. Green (seven) had more receptions of 40-plus yards than Jackson (six) last season.
Another positive with Jackson last season was his consistency.
Jackson posted solid full-season numbers (60/1106/9) in 2011, but his path to that production was a roller-coaster ride for fantasy owners. Jackson had double-digit fantasy points in only four games that season and totaled 27 receptions for 586 yards and seven touchdowns in those games. In the remaining 12 games, Jackson had only 33 receptions for 520 yards and two touchdowns.
In 2012, however, Jackson had at least 50 receiving yards in 13 of 16 games and in each of the final nine games. In addition, he had double-digit fantasy points in twice as many games (eight) in 2012 than 2011.
With great size (6'5", 241 pounds) and big-play ability, it's a bit of a surprise that Jackson has yet to reach double-digit touchdowns in any season. That said, he has scored 36 touchdowns in 68 games over the past five seasons, which is an average of 8.47 scores over 16 games.
As quarterback, Josh Freeman enters a walk year, and he may need to become more consistent to secure another contract with the club. During a five-game stretch (Weeks 5 to 9), Freeman threw 13 touchdowns and only one interception.
Over the past two seasons, however, Freeman is tied with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the most intercepted passes thrown (39). The team drafted big-armed quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round as a possible successor to Freeman.
Better in standard-scoring than PPR formats, Jackson is a low-end WR1 in standard-scoring leagues. Jackson finished sixth in fantasy points among wide receivers last season. If Freeman can limit the drive-ending turnovers, it's possible Jackson scores double-digit touchdowns and repeats—or even improves upon—his 2012 fantasy production.
Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed by their opponents from Week 1 to 16, Jackson and his fellow Bucs' receivers have the league's second-most difficult schedule in both standard-scoring and point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
In Weeks 15 and 16, the Bucs close the season against the Rams and 49ers. The Rams are one of five pass defenses with more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed, and the 49ers allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards last year.
2013 Projection: 68 Receptions, 1,285 Yards, 8 Touchdowns
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