Fortunately for fantasy football owners, team records don’t mean much. Running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Vincent Jackson won some fantasy games Sunday with dominant production, although quarterback Jameis Winston likely made some people pull their hair out with frustration.
With that in mind, here is a look at the final production and some fantasy reaction for the three Tampa Bay playmakers.
Winston has flashed moments of excellence in four games this season, but the important number fantasy owners must know is seven—as in seven interceptions. Four of those came Sunday, and SportsCenter noted Winston is now tied with Andrew Luck for the league lead in picks.
Rookie mistakes are understandable from a quarterback getting his feet wet at the NFL level, and they are something the Buccaneers can live with because he is the future of the franchise. Tampa Bay likely won’t compete for the postseason this year, and the turnovers are a necessary part of Winston’s development process (for context, Peyton Manning threw 28 picks in first season).
However, fantasy owners aren’t in the business of waiting for Winston to develop three years down the line. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk said it best:
The Buccaneers can afford to wait for Winston to learn how to dissect NFL defenses, but you can’t. Don’t play him this season, barring a drastic turnaround.
The fact that Martin had 20 carries despite the Buccaneers’ early deficit is exactly what fantasy owners want to hear. Tampa Bay is going to lose plenty of games this season, but it clearly still trusts the running game even after it falls behind.
Martin topping 100 yards on a routine basis will help Winston gradually adapt to the NFL level because defenses must respect the run. The 21-year-old quarterback also threw five passes to Martin, and those short passes will help build Winston’s confidence.
That means Martin will see the ball enough this season to occupy a spot in your fantasy lineup. He isn’t a top-notch running back at this point after two injury-plagued seasons coming into 2015, but he looked explosive Sunday and is not that far removed from the 2012 campaign, when he ran for 1,454 yards.
The talent and opportunity (he saw 20 carries Sunday compared to six for backup Charles Sims) are both in place for Martin. He is worth a weekly flex start as the main back in Tampa Bay.
The best Sunday number for fantasy owners looking ahead when it comes to Jackson was the 15 targets. It is clear Winston trusts the 6’5” pass-catcher to go up and get it when pressure comes or when he is in single-coverage situations.
The fact Winston locked in on Jackson on some passes Sunday is a concern for the quarterback and coaching staff, but that is not a problem for fantasy owners relying on Jackson. Winston targeted Jackson early and often, and the receiver already has two games of double-digit targets through four weeks.
The presence of 6’5” Mike Evans (who tallied 1,051 receiving yards last season) means opposing secondaries cannot afford to double-team Jackson on a regular basis. Opportunities against single coverage for a receiver who topped the 1,000-yard plateau the last four years are fantasy gold.
Make sure Jackson is in your lineup this season.
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