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Air Arians' Offense Is Taking Off


Coming into the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were expected to have one of the top offenses in the NFL. Through the first two weeks, they averaged just 15.5 points. Over the last two weeks though, they've turned things around to average 43 points following an explosive performance in L.A. Behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, tied at 135 points, the Buccaneers are third in the league with 123 points scored through four weeks.

While tight end O.J. Howard is underwhelming compared to his draft stock, the rest of the offense is taking off. As of now, wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are third and fourth, respectively, in wide receiver scoring so far this year. Each of them has over 300 yards through the air, and they've both come down with four touchdowns through the first four weeks of the season. The offense is finally pulling it together, and they're going to win weeks for people in fantasy all year.

With this offense beginning to fire on all cylinders, now is the time to buy before the price gets up too high to afford. Let's break down each position to determine what kind of value you can find on the Gulf Coast.

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Quarterback Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston struggled in Week 1, but he's quietly been one of the better NFL quarterbacks over the last three weeks. After having a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:3 in Week 1, he's at 8:2 over the last three weeks, and his quarterback rating reflects appropriately. He's averaging a 112.1 QBR over the past three games. That would be 19.9 points better than his best season back in 2017, when the team finished the season 3-10 with him at the helm.

Coming into this year, if you cherry-pick his best full-season numbers from his career, he would have a stat line of 4,090 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. If you extrapolated his current numbers out over a full 16-game stretch, he would finish with 4,668 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. You'd like to see him take care of the ball a little better, but that's still ok with the amount of volume that you're getting from him.

Head coach Bruce Arians was expected to bring his bombing deep-pass style of offense to Tampa Bay to "fix" the broken Winston. He is currently on pace to throw 556 passes, which would be the second-most in a season of his career span by 11 attempts. In addition to throwing a lot of passes, Winston is throwing his passes far. He's averaging 10.7 yards intended per attempt. That's third in the NFL behind only Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Winston's stock is trending upwards, and, if you were able to grab him either in the draft or free agency, your rewards are coming.

 

Running Backs Ronald Jones II & Peyton Barber

The Buccaneers offense is more focused on the passing game, but we have seen the running backs have some value over the past few weeks. It also looks like second-year running back Ronald Jones is a player whose stock is trending upward. After having 17 total carries in the first two weeks, he's totaled 33 carries over the past two weeks, and he was able to get a touchdown in Week 4. He's halfway to his total of two touchdowns from last season!

Jones is averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the season, and the threat of getting beat over the top gives him a softer box to run against. Some teams can support more than one running back, but the Buccaneers are not one of those teams. Unfortunately, you can't rely on Jones along with fellow running back Peyton Barber every week. With the way that Jones is playing, it will be surprising to see Barber climb back into relevancy.

After Week 2, Jones was the perfect player to buy low on, as he was likely going to cost you next-to-nothing to acquire in a trade. Jones is trending upwards, and he's on pace for just under 1,000 yards on the year. He doesn't add much in the passing game, as he's totaled just three catches through three games. If you can still acquire Jones without shelling out a premium price tag, go out and get him as a flex option.

 

Wide Receivers Chris Godwin & Mike Evans

First thing's first, you're not rostering any wide receiver on the team outside of Godwin and Evans. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is the only wideout outside of that elite duo to have more than six targets on the year. Yet, he's only got 12 targets and three receptions for 16 yards. Let's move past him though. I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't as in on Godwin as everyone else in the fantasy community coming into the year. I got a few shares of him, but it wasn't as much as I should have. For that, shame on me.

Anyway, Godwin is averaging over 25 percent of his team's air yards, and he's doing something with the ball once he catches it. He's averaging a healthy 6.1 yards after the catch per reception. Most important for him, though, is his consistency. Among players averaging more than 6.1 yards after the catch, just four players, are catching a higher percentage than the 76.47 percent of catches that Godwin is coming down with. He receives a high volume, and he has just one less target than Evans so far this season.

Through the first two games, like much of the offense, Evans was struggling to get rolling. Over the last two games, we're seeing the player that's been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last five years. He has 12 catches for 279 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games. Evans' stock is trending upward, and, as long as we continue to see "Good" Jameis, he's going to finish the season as a top-five fantasy wideout.

 

Tight End O.J. Howard

Tight end Cameron Brate is going to catch balls all year, but he's not going to be a legitimate fantasy asset. Howard, however, will be. He's caught 10 of his 12 targets, and he's averaging 13.1 yards per reception. Another reason to expect him to produce over Brate is the number of snaps that each of them is playing. Brate has played just 34.17 percent of the possible snaps thus far. For comparison, Howard is at 83.09 percent. Only the linemen, Winston and the two top wideouts are playing a higher percentage.

Howard is on pace to catch 40 passes for 524 yards. He hasn't gotten into the end zone yet, but that should regress to the mean as he's scored at least five touchdowns in each of the previous two seasons despite not playing 16 games in either year. Similar to Jones, Howard is falling into the buy-low category where owners could be getting frustrated with his production and looking to move him.

If you have a need at tight end or just want to stir the pot, put out some feelers to the Howard owner in your league. This offense is going to start clicking, and Howard is going to be one of the beneficiaries of that click. He has the athleticism and receiving ability to catch passes, but he's also a good-enough run blocker to stay on the field more. If his volume starts increasing, his value will skyrocket.

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