The question entering Week Three for many Buccaneers fantasy owners is which Buccaneers team will we see on the field on Sunday? In Week One, the Buccaneers offense put up 31 points against the Atlanta Falcons, with Jameis Winston scoring 25 fantasy points, Mike Evans having 15, and Charles Sims & Doug Martin combining for 18. In Week 2, the Buccaneers had just seven points on the scoreboard, Jameis Winston had three fantasy tallies, Mike Evans had 13 and the running backs (including Jacquizz Rodgers) had six.
Fantasy owners should be confident in seeing a bounce back this week, and the reason have as much to do with the promise and expectations of the Buccaneers offense as they do with the intangibles of this game.
By many accounts, the Buccaneers came into the season as a "Cinderella" team, with a young offense that managed to produce the fifth-most yards in the NFL last season. They were a favorite among fantasy analysts and a sleeper pick for the playoffs. The talent is there, and we saw it on the field and on the fantasy scoreboards in Week One.
But this game also means a lot more. The Buccaneers are ready to move on from a big loss last week on the road; they want that taste out of their mouths. This is the first home game of the season for the Buccaneers, so there should be an extra pep in their step as they first step on to the field at Raymond James Stadium. And the whole team understands the importance of a 2-1 start, especially because they face the two Super Bowl 50 teams in back-to-back weeks following this game.
Of course there is more analysis to come on this team in the later paragraphs, but it is good to note that with any team and any player, one sour performance does not define them. Had you benched Doug Martin after a slow fantasy start last season (five, seven and four points in the first three games), you'd have missed out on 19- and 33-point performances in Weeks Four and Five. Simple as that, start your starters….albeit not Doug Martin this week, as he is out due to injury. Now on to the advice…
The All-Important Touchdown
In fantasy football, touchdowns are king. Your star running back can have a monster day on the field and run for 147 yards but not find the end zone, and get you a (respectable) 14 points. In the same week, an unowned goal line back could put up 20 yards but score twice and have the same amount. Buccaneers fans and Mike Evans fantasy owners know this all too well from last season.
The Buccaneers wide receiver had 1,206 receiving yards last year (150 more than his heralded rookie season), but was still considered something of a fantasy flop with only three touchdowns. Despite having the 11th-most receiving yards in the league, Evans' TD total left him at 27th among all WRs in fantasy points.
Those fantasy owners who drafted Todd Gurley early in the first round this year are certainly feeling this effect. The Rams have not gotten things rolling on offense yet this season, having the fewest yards per game in the NFL (234.0) and no touchdowns through two games. Gurley has just 10 total fantasy points in those games, tied with kicker Greg Zuerlein for third most on the team.
Until the Rams can prove that they can generate touchdowns, fantasy owners are going to be hesitant to put them in their lineups, but the note from our intro holds true here for Todd Gurley owners. Start your starters. The back was a top pick for a reason and he can turn his performance around any game this season. He should be in your starting lineup regardless of the opponent.
For the rest of the Rams offense, there is just not enough this season to justify throwing them in your lineup, especially with no bye weeks to cover. The Buccaneers (largely due to last week's game) have given up a good amount of fantasy points to most positions. The defense has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, the fourth most to opposing quarterbacks and the sixth most to opposing running backs. Still, until this Rams offense can get a rhythm, Gurley is the only fantasy starter on the roster.
When the Bucs Have the Ball
Thanks largely to holding the Seattle Seahawks to just three points last week, the Rams have done a good job at preventing opposing players from putting up gaudy fantasy totals so far this year. They are allowing the 10th-fewest yards per game and seventh-fewest points per game. Despite the tough defense, a number of Buccaneers players should see your starting lineups this week.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' practice on Wednesday, September 21st.
QB Jameis Winston had 25 points in the opener, followed by just a three-point performance last week. Winston threw four interceptions in the game, something he also did in his first season when the Buccaneers hosted the Panthers. He threw no interceptions in the four games following that one. The Rams have allowed just one passing touchdown this year and 12.5 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, nearly four points less than the league average. While we believe Winston should be on your roster rather than the waiver wire, he is probably just a QB2 in this one.
RB Doug Martin is out for this game and it is not yet certain how the carries will be split between Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers is certainly a player to keep an eye on in this game and could be fantasy-relevant if Martin is out for an extended period of time, but he's definitely a risk for this week. Charles Sims has the potential to be a flex starter in PPR leagues every week, but could now see more interest in standard leagues as well as his total touches total is bound to go up. The Rams allowed three rushing touchdown in their season opener. Sims is still a bit of a risky pick because of the unknowns in this game, but he has a very high ceiling here.
Finally, at wide receiver, Mike Evans has solidified himself as a must-start wide receiver each week. He has a very tough task in this one, going up against a defense that is allowing the fourth-fewest points to opposing WRs. They have not allowed a WR touchdown through two games. Vincent Jackson is still looking for some chemistry with Jameis Winston and there are probably more reliable options on your roster until they can prove their connection. Adam Humphries is another Buccaneers to keep an eye on, he has nine catches and over 100 yards this season.