After a slow start to his season, Tampa Bay’s quarterback, Jameis Winston, put together consecutive 300-yard passing games and threw four touchdowns without an interception over the past two games. He has the 2-2 Buccaneers believing they are in the race for the NFC South title and feeling good about themselves.
Adding free agent DeSean Jackson to the receiver mix leaves Mike Evans with fewer double and triple teams. Tight end Cameron Brate is still catching everything thrown to him and a rookie OJ Howard is picking up the game quickly, too. Doug Martin is back from suspension, offering a legitimate running game for opponents to respect. Football life is good for Jameis Winston.
But does that mean he is a must-start this week? Or is he just an upstart? Let’s take a look.
How is he doing it?
Jameis Winston is playing some of his best football this season. He is seeing the field well and spreading targets among all his receivers. Evans, Jackson, Brate, and Adam Humphries each have 15-18 targets over the past two games. The running backs are also seeing passes and the rookie Howard is seeing a few more passes thrown his way, too. 40 passes in a game is about normal with 20 rushes for the Buccaneers.
Winston has had two games without an interception. He is not afraid to go vertical and can still tuck it in and run with the ball when he needs to. He has defenses off-balance with the number of receiving options he has. With Martin in the backfield, play action will be even more effective than it has been.
Sounds good. So, he is a must-start?
In his current two-game run, Winston has faced the Patriots league-worst NFL fantasy defense against quarterbacks and the Giants’ tenth-worst unit. Against Chicago, he was not as impressive. The only top defense he faced was the Minnesota Vikings, who intercepted him three times. Winston was the QB #20 after the Bears and Vikings games.
Fortunately for Winston, he has many more matchups against lesser quarterback defenses than better ones. This week, Tampa Bay is in Arizona. Despite Patrick Peterson taking out top receivers each week, the Cardinals still give up the seventh-most NFL fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Yes… this week and most weeks, Jameis Winston is a must-play. With the number of weapons around him, his game will only improve as the season goes on. He has a few tough defenses to face, including the Bills and Panthers right after the Cardinals. He would not be an awful start against them, but if you have a better option, you might consider it. But do not remove Winston from your roster because, after those two games, he has a stretch of second-tier defenses to feast on.
Plug him in as a must-play this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
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