This season we'll predict the stat lines and let you do the math for what type of a league you're in. That way we won't have to get into PPR, .5 PPR, etc. Hopefully you are able to manage this, since you are already converting the shapes on this page into letters, the letters into words and words into sentences in your head. If you are desperate enough to take my advice and ignore the feeling in your gut on who to play, please don't hate me if I lead you astray. My guess is as good as yours every week. If I was truly psychic I would be living on my own private island after winning millions on fanduel, and bankrupting a few casinos in Las Vegas.
The first and second overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, will face each other this week and the fantasy world will be watching. Many people are interested to see if these two are worth a roster spot, especially those that are in two quarterback leagues (why you would subject yourself to a two QB league I have no idea, and may God have mercy on your soul). While I hate using preseason stats to judge regular season action, I feel that since we have absolutely no other basis for comparison between these two that I should post them for you.
Jameis Winston completed 23 of 47 passes this preseason at the clip of an abysmal 48.9% completion percentage. He amassed 311 yards, 0 passing touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked an alarming amount of seven times. Winston also had six carries for 24 yards, and two rushing touchdowns this preseason. He fumbled the ball away once.
Marcus Mariota took much better care of the football this preseason, completing 21 of 30 passes (70%) for 326 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked twice, whilst adding five carries for 17 yards, no scores, and a fumble as well.
This is extremely small sample size for both individuals, and while the sacks and completion percentage are night and day, it's somewhat expected given the playing styles of each. Winston will look downfield and hold onto the ball too long until he learns the ropes a little more. He's also playing behind what may very well be the worst pass blocking offensive line in the NFL. Mariota is much more willing to check down and take what the defense will give him.
ESPN predicts Jameis Winston to complete 19.9 passes out of 33.4 attempts. They project him to somehow score 1.4 touchdowns and throw 1.1 interceptions with three rushes for 11.5 yards and .1 TD.
I think we should all just take a moment here to chastise ESPN for their garbage projection system in which they hedge their bets so much they are breaking down attempts, completions, touchdowns and interceptions into decimal places. Maybe that helps some of you, maybe it doesn't. I think they just have no balls.
ESPN predicts Mariota to have a slightly better day than Famous Jameis. They have him with a line 20.1 / 32.7 for 227.8 yards, 1.3 TDs, and 1 interception. He will add 5.5 rushes for 33.1 yards and .2 touchdowns.
NFL fantasy is a little more simple. They don't give us completions, passing attempts, or rushing attempts (which don't matter in fantasy anyway) but do at least have the backbone to predict real stats for their players.
NFL predicts Winston to have a significantly better day than Mariota. Winston is projected to have 196 yards passing, with two touchdowns, one interception, and seven rushing yards.
Mariota is predicted to be their second worst quarterback in the NFL this week, with 167 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception and twenty rushing yards.
I predict Winston to outperform Mariota by a slight margin. If Mike Evans ends up being held out with his hamstring Sunday this could easily swing the other way. With that being said:
I predict Winston to complete 18/29 passes for 251 yards, one touchdown, one interception while adding 4 carries for 17 yards.
I predict Mariota to complete 22/30 passes for 213 yards with no touchdowns, one interception, while adding six carries for 36 yards.
There are only two running backs in this game that are worth starting in fantasy in any format, and I wouldn't advise starting Bishop Sankey unless you're very thin at the RB position. The backfield in Tennessee is a huge question mark heading into the season. Sankey appears to have done enough in the preseason to hold onto the #1 duties, for the first week at least. David Cobb was making a push, but unfortunately fell victim to a severe calf injury. He has been placed on I.R.- designated for return. Rotoworld advises that Cobb is safe to drop in all re-draft leagues as he is very unlikely to help your fantasy team after week ten, when he is set to return. Tennessee recently traded a conditional pick to Cleveland for Terrance West, but he's unlikely to have learned the offense yet and it is doubtful he will see much time.
As a bonus for those of you in deep, deep, deep leagues. Keep an eye out for my fellow Western Kentucky alum Antonio Andrews. He had a great camp in Tennessee, and vultured a touchdown from Sankey with the first team offense in the third preseason game. He could very well end up being the man in Tennessee if Sankey continues to disappoint and West is slow to learn the offense.
So, we'll only list the predictions here for Doug Martin and Bishop Sankey. Charles Sims and Dexter McCluster might be worth a flyer if you're desperate in no kicker/two flex leagues, but surely in week one you have a better option available.
Bishop Sankey has a tough road ahead of him in all projection systems. ESPN predicts him to have 11.7 carries for 47.8 yards and .3 TDs. They also predict him to catch 1.2 balls for 9.1 yards with no chance of a receiving score.
NFL predicts an even worse day, projecting him with 35 rushing yards and seven receiving yards. Sorry PPR fans, you'll just have to guess if that seven yards receiving comes from one, two, or three receptions.
I predict Sankey to have a rough day as well, with 19 carries for 68 yards and no TDs, as well as a fumble lost. I don't see him as a checkdown target either as Dexter McCluster is likely to get that kind of work. We'll be generous and say two receptions for 11 yards for Mr. Sankey.
Doug Martin had a phenomenal preseason, and dare I say it, looked like he has returned to the elusive and powerful back he was as a rookie in 2012. Let's not count our chickens before our eggs are hatched here, but Martin might end up being a solid RB2 for your fantasy team this year.
ESPN predicts Martin to have 15.5 carries for 60 yards, .3 touchdowns, and 1.5 receptions for 12 yards. NFL is much more generous and has Martin ranked as their #18 RB this week, with 60 yards, a rushing touchdown, and eleven yards receiving. Interestingly enough, NFL also has Charles Sims ranked over Bishop Sankey with 31 rushing yards and a touchdown.
I don't think Sims vultures any TDs from Martin, but I could very well be wrong. I have Martin projected with a stat line of 22 carries, 112 yards, one rushing TD, and two receptions for 17 yards.
We all know the Buccaneers two big receiving threats are Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and Kendall Wright supposedly has a magical connection with Marcus Mariota already. Wright is being hyped as a very undervalued WR3 in some circles. Personally, I like Wright's chances a lot this year and own him or am trying to own him in all of my fantasy leagues.These are the only only three wide receivers worth really playing this week. Although Harry Douglas used to own the Buccaneers when he was with Atlanta, and could make an impact. He is officially listed as the #2 WR opposite Wright, but has Justin Hunter and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham pushing him. It's pointless to try to project these guys in week one.
ESPN has Evans ranked as their #11 WR this week with a projected line of 5 / 75.3 / .4. NFL also has Evans ranked as their #11 WR this week with a prediction of 81 yards and and one TD.
I have Evans ranked quite a bit further down on my list this week, assuming he's even good to go and that hammy is better. Maybe it was the zero catches in preseason poisoning my brain, but I have him with a projected stat line 5 receptions for 68 yards and no TDS. You can't not play Evans if you drafted him. He's likely your WR1 or if you're really lucky your WR2, but I think he puts out a mediocre fantasy performance this weekend.
ESPN has Jackson ranked as their #22 WR this week, with a projected line of 4 / 61.9 / .3. NFL has him as their #38 WR this week with a prediction of 53 yards and a TD. Okay NFL fantasy, the difference between the #11 WR and #38 WR is just 28 receiving yards? Give me a break fellas.
I predict Jackson to have a bigger day as they test out Evans' hamstring a little. Winston also seemed to have more of a connection with Jackson in camp. I'll say Jackson catches seven balls for 104 yards and a score.
ESPN has Wright ranked as their #48 WR this week, with a projected line of 4.7 / 53.3/ .2. NFL has him as their #54 WR with just 47 yards receiving. I predict Wright to show off that connection with Mariota and turn some heads in the fantasy world. 8 catches for 83 yards and a score.
You would figure that these two rookie quarterbacks will lean heavily on their tight ends this year to move the chains, and you would probably be right. While both these offenses have a lot of question marks, both Delanie Walker and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins are worth a spot on your roster. ASJ is going undrafted in a lot of leagues, so if he shows a spark with Winston on Sunday there's a good chance you could land him off the waiver wire heading into week two if you like.
ESPN has Walker listed as their #10 TE this week, with a projected line 4 / 45 / .3. NFL fantasy has Walker ranked as their #8 TE this week, with a prediction of 50 yards and a TD. I personally don't see Walker reaching the end zone, but do see him as a valuable PPR tight end, with 6 catches for 53 yards.
ESPN has ASJ ranked as their #22 TE, with a line of 2.9 / 35.7 / .2. NFL has him as their #15 TE with 33 yards and a TD. That's right folks, even though Winston is only projected to throw two TDs by NFL fantasy, Evans, Jackson, and ASJ are all predicted to score one. Make sense to you? Me neither. Personally I don't see ASJ having a huge day on Sunday but hope to God I'm wrong. I'll go with four catches for 45 yards.
Team Defense / Special Teams:
Both of these defenses are worth a shot this week as both rookie signal callers have a good chance to turn the ball over and maybe throw a pick six. I don't foresee a special teams TD out of either of these mediocre units but those are almost impossible to predict anyway.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
ESPN has the Buc's D/ST ranked #6 overall this week with a projected score of 8.6. Feel free to click the hyperlink to investigate their defensive scoring system, but I won't get into it here as this is already getting ridiculously long, and you've probably found yourself nodding off a time or two already. NFL sees the Buc's D/ST in quite a bit more of a negative light, listing them as their #17 overall unit; with one sack, one interception and 21 points allowed for a total of four fantasy points. This obviously makes them not worthy of a fantasy start if you put stock in their prediction.
I project Tampa as a solid fantasy start this week; with two sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery, and 17 points allowed.
ESPN has the Titans listed just slightly behind the Buccaneers as their #8 unit this week with a score of 8.2. NFL has the Titans #9 overall; with 2 sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and 25 points allowed.
I also see the Titans as a solid fantasy start this week, with three sacks, one interception returned for TD, and 24 points allowed.
Who gives a $#&% about kickers, really. Neither Kyle Brinzda nor Ryan Succop are worthy of a roster spot on your team if you're still in a league rocking kickers. I won't even bother to project these guys. Brinzda is worth keeping an eye on though, as he has shown he can boot it accurately from distance. If the Bucs offense clicks he could very well become fantasy worthy very quickly, but right now he shouldn't be rostered.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my fantasy preview. I'm still experimenting with the formatting and trying to get a feel for what I like, so I apologize for any inconsistencies. Make sure to tune back in on Monday as we examine the projections vs. what really took place on Sunday. I'll be in the stands this week cheering on the Buccaneers, so if you see a chubby ginger guy wearing a Doug Martin jersey in section 151 feel free to buy him a beer.
Feel free to post any fantasy questions in the comments below for the BN community to help you figure out.