I expect big things out of the Buccaneers in 2012 in both fantasy football and in the NFL. The addition of Vincent Jackson makes the offense that much better and should help Josh Freeman bounce back from a disappointing 2011. The bigger question is who else can step up their game this year? While many are looking at newly-signed tight end Dallas Clark as a possible fantasy option, there is someone else I'm putting stock in instead (yes I know it's a bad joke, but roll with it).
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Luke Stocker.
As of now, we don't know a lot about Stocker, outside of the fact that he was behind Kellen Winslow in his rookie year last year and was on the field in two tight end sets. But his first year was also marred by hip and knee injuries. At the end of the season, Stocker finished with a tepid 12 catches for 92 yards. But his role will increase after the Bucs traded Winslow to the Seahawks last week.
Even with Dallas Clark around, Luke Stocker should see plenty of opportunities in 2012.
Right after Winslow was shipped out, the team signed former Colts stud Dallas Clark to a one-year deal, that included $1 million guaranteed. But Clark hasn't been the same player he was when he and Peyton Manning connected back in 2009. Over the last two seasons, Clark has played in 17 games and has averaged a mere 350 yards per season. Last year, he dropped 8 passes off 60 targets with Curtis Painter under center. Now that Clark is a member of the Buccaneers, I still don't see a bounce-back opportunity this year, even with Freeman an obvious upgrade over Painter.
During a press conference, Bucs GM Mark Dominik had this to say about both Stocker and Clark:
“Dallas Clark is a consummate pro and proven playmaker,” said Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik. “He will be another asset, on and off the field, for our team. In addition to Luke Stocker’s continued improvement in his ability as an every-down tight end, we feel we have talent and depth at the tight end position.”
Considering his small resume', it's really too early to tell what Stocker can do in Tampa's offense. But with the team's intentions of giving Stocker every chance to succeed in a league that highly values the tight end position in the passing game, Stocker could easily have TE2 value when all is said and done. If I'm a dynasty league owner and Stocker is still on the waiver wire, I'd pick him up just to sit on him in the hopes he does wind up with value. In redraft leagues, Stocker should be easily attainable as a late-round flier.