Hey, I'm back!
And yes, Scott, I had completely arranged my lineup pre-honeymoon. It was not the best strategy.
(Editor's Note: Depends on what you mean by that. It probably WAS the best strategy when it comes to starting your marriage off on the right foot.)
Scott had a solid performance filling in with some fantasy advice in a game that was pretty light on points last week. Doug Martin was a trustworthy option with 10 points. The Buccaneers defense didn't light up the fantasy scoreboards, but was a very solid streaming option with how cheaply they could be added. Mike Evans posted six grabs for 105 and so on and so forth. Scott even opted for a fancy new format. I've got to be on my A game this week.
The Buccaneers are on at 4:05 this week, hosting the Seattle Seahawks, who are certainly one of the most formidable fantasy football defenses in the league this year. In fact, Seattle is allowing below-average points to every single fantasy football position. While that might make some fantasy owners a little wary, it is worth pointing out the Buccaneers' own fantasy fortitude so far this year, especially as of late.
Over the last five weeks of the season, Jameis Winston is putting up 19.4 fantasy points per game, the ninth-highest mark at his position. You don't need me to tell you that Mike Evans is having one of the best seasons of any receiver this year; 13.7 fantasy points per week this season is the best of any wide receiver in the league and he's doing even better since the bye, with 14.1 points per game over the last five. Doug Martin has 10 points in each of his two starts since returning, while Cameron Brate is a Top-10 scoring tight end this year. The points are even coming on strong recently from Roberto Aguayo who has back-to-back double-digit fantasy days.
I enjoy writing in my standard team-by-team format, so let's break it down a little bit further about which players from Bucs vs. Seahawks could help you make that final push to the fantasy playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week, Jameis Winston posted 17 fantasy points (which is higher than the season-long average of all but 10 other fantasy quarterbacks). That was his lowest point total since the bye week. He now has the 11th-most fantasy points of any quarterback and he's tied for the sixth-most touchdown passes in the NFL. It is time to start thinking of Jameis Winston as a legitimate fantasy QB1 in certain weeks.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' practice on Friday, November 25th.
Of course I'm saying this going into one of the toughest matchups he has faced this season. This week, he's up against the defense that is allowing the fifth-fewest points to opposing QBs, 13.8 per game. He has faced two tougher fantasy defenses this season, the Cardinals and the Broncos, games that resulted in Winston's two lowest point totals of the season. That maybe doesn't make one too optimistic about his QB1 status, but Winston has been a different quarterback since the bye week. He has just four turnovers in those five games compared to 11 touchdown passes. If you have a safer option, go for it, but rest easy knowing that as we ride into the fantasy football playoffs, Jameis Winston is starting to become a weekly starting-caliber fantasy player.
Mike Evans also faces a daunting matchup, with the assumption that he will be shadowed by Richard Sherman, one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Evans has been covered by elite cornerbacks so far this season and has worked his way through many double coverages. Like the other top WRs in the NFL, you should feel comfortable starting Mike Evans week-in and week-out, no matter who he is up against. Especially considering that 1) he is still Top 5 in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns; 2) he leads the NFL in targets per game (12.1), more than one target per game more than the next closest receiver; and 3) he leads all WRs in fantasy points this season and has double-digit points in seven of his 10 games. Plus, to steal a source from Scott Smith, Football Outsiders shows that the Seahawks are actually allowing 86.3 yards per game to WR1s this year, nearly 15 yards more than the average NFL team.
The Buccaneers roll out a few other passing targets in this game, but each has to contend with a top NFL defense. Football Outsiders has the Seahawks performing well better than the average defense when covering WR2, "Other WR" and TEs this season. Now might not be the time to gamble with Adam Humphries. Cameron Brate has had some big fantasy performances this year and has the 10th-most points at his position, but his fantasy numbers are far from consistent and he should be considered a risk this week.
Finally, Seattle is allowing below-average points per game to opposing running backs, but they have been allowing some big yardage games in recent weeks. In their first five games, the Seahawks allowed opposing rushers to gain more than 53 yards only once. In their most recent five games, four of them have been over 110 rushing yards allowed and in the contest that was sub-110 yards, they gave up three rushing touchdowns. Doug Martin's workload increased last week and he had 105 yards from scrimmage. The defense is tough, but if you own Martin, he should be in your starting lineup.
For those who own Seattle Seahawks players, the strategy for their stars seems to be a "business as usual" approach. Only four active Seahawks skill players are owned in 28+% of ESPN fantasy leagues. So, chances are, that if you have a Seattle player, you should be rolling with him pretty consistently.
This begins at quarterback with Russell Wilson, who is not having the fantasy success of years past but has turned it on in recent weeks. In Seattle's first seven games of the season, he scored more than 13 fantasy points only once. In his last three games, however, he has posted 26, 25 and 22 points (second-most, fourth-most and fifth-most of any QB, respectively). The Buccaneers are allowing the sixth-most points to opposing quarterbacks. With a few questions in the run game, Wilson could be in for another solid fantasy performance.
Pictures of Jameis Winston during the Bucs' game against the Chiefs.
WR Doug Baldwin is certainly reaping the benefits of Wilson's three-week surge. In those weeks, he has 45 fantasy points. Though the Bucs defense is allowing the sixth-most points to opposing WRs, they are actually allowing below average yards per game to opposing number-one WRs. Still, on Seattle's offensive hot streaks, you need to keep all of their weapons in your lineup.
The same goes for TE Jimmy Graham and RB Thomas Rawls. The Buccaneers have allowed just three touchdowns to the tight end position so far this year, but they have only faced three TEs that rank in the Top 20 in position fantasy points. Those three scored 18, 10 and 3 points against the Bucs defense. Rawls returned from injury last week and had 8 fantasy points on 17 touches. He should shoulder most of the load this week with C.J. Prosise out for this game, making him a solid RB2 or Flex play.
The Buccaneers are allowing a good amount of their WR yardage to non-WR1s this year; the problem that presents with the Seahawks is accurately predicting which receiver that would be. While Doug Baldwin ranks 10th in points for wide receivers with 103 this season, the next highest Seahawk receivers are tied at 94th at their position with 29 points each. Either Jermaine Kearse or Tyler Lockett could have a their top fantasy performance of the season this week, but both are very high-risk, high-reward prospects. In the last three weeks, Kearse has seen 17 targets to Lockett's 11. If you're looking for a deep sleeper who could hit big for you, Kearse would be the pick in this game.