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Can you trust Josh Freeman?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman's Week 15 debacle was the equivalent of everyone's favorite holiday curmudgeon-turned-humanitarian the Grinch (sorry, Ebenezer Scrooge) stealing Christmas.

Fantasy owners had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads when looking at Freeman's Week 15 opponent the New Orleans Saints, the second-worst fantasy defense in the league against the pass. Five turnovers and zero touchdowns in that game likely had many owners singing "you're a mean one, Mr. Freeman" while pondering why they play this wretched emotion-swinging game.

But can we trust the Bucs QB to make a heartwarming turnaround and deliver holiday cheer to fantasy owners like the green guy did for Whoville?

At first glance, that seems as unlikely as the Grinch making a face turn at the climax of the story, but I'm not ready to rule out Freeman for Week 16.

Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay's opponent this Sunday, have been tremendous against opposing quarterbacks in the past five games, allowing an average of 10.2 fantasy points to the position in that span.

However, the Rams played four of the worst 10 quarterbacks in the league and another making just his third career start in those five games, easily handling Mark Sanchez, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Christian Ponder and holding Colin Kaepernick to 14 points.

Robert Griffin III, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and the Alex Smith-Kaepernick combo averaged 26.3 fantasy points per game against the Rams. Freeman is closer to the level of those players than Sanchez-Lindley-Fitzpatrick-Ponder group.

Prior to Sunday's stinker, Freeman had been one of the most reliable fantasy quarterbacks for nine straight weeks, only letting down fantasy owners once in that span. He threw for 2,402 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five turnovers, as many as he had in Week 15 alone, and had eight multi-touchdown games in that stretch.

The Saints are only the second-worst fantasy defense against the pass because Freeman's defensive teammates trump New Orleans' futility. Rams QB Sam Bradford, coming off a career-high 377 yards, should be able to dissect the Bucs and keep them from going run heavy early in the game.

Freeman has also been a much better player at Raymond James Stadium, causing the pirate ship cannon to fire off plenty of times this year while posting a 101.3 QB rating. In seven home games, the Bucs quarterback has averaged 262.9 yards per game on 58.6 percent passing with 12 touchdowns and just two turnovers. On the road, Freeman has thrown for 233 yards per game (51.6 percent) and 13 touchdowns with 12 turnovers.

Week 15's game took place in New Orleans, but the Bucs return to Freeman's comfort zone Sunday. For those who weren't wiped out by the Tampa Bay signal- caller in Week 15, placing your championship hopes in Freeman's hands is not as crazy as it sounds.

If the Grinch could deliver Christmas after stealing it, then Freeman can bring you a fantasy championship after his Week 15 meltdown.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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