With Jameis Winston Officially Benched, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bucs WRs Equal Sweet Fantasy Music - Roto Street Journal
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With Jameis Winston Officially Benched, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bucs WRs Equal Sweet Fantasy Music

In arguably the worst performance of his career, Bucs QB Jameis Winston threw 4 horrendous interceptions, in addition to 276 yards and a score, versus the Bengals. Winston was deservedly benched in the third quarter, and it appears his ass will likely collect splinters beyond this week. Tampa Bay have named Ryan Fitzpatrick their starting QB vs. Carolina, and though HC Dirk Koetter claims to be “just looking at this week,”  the move feels likely to stick. Considering OC Todd Monken’s aggressive “Air Raid” offense leads the league in passing yards per game (376) by nearly 60 more than the next closest Steelers, the fantasy football implications of this move are massive. 

For one, Fitzpatrick himself has been lights out fantasy-wise. His 25.1 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) trail only Patrick Mahomes among QBs, and Fitzpatrick has thrown for over 400 yards and at least 3 TDs in all three of his full-games played, topping 30 in two of these weeks. For the QB-Needy, Fitzpatrick is an immediate No.1 plug-in for however long his leash runs.

Meanwhile, WRs Mike Evans and Desean Jackson owners should also rejoice at this move. Since 2015, Winston’s Passer Ratings when targeting Tight Ends (120.7, 3rd of 25 qualifying QBs) and Running Backs were significantly better than Wide Receivers (81.2, dead last 25th of 25). Extrapolated even further, this rating was 90.3 for Slot WRs and just 76.6 for Outside WRs, suggesting Winston struggles targeting the outside and down the field.

Unsurprisingly, Evans and DJax’s 16 game paces with Fitzpatrick are breathtakingly improved. For Evans: 116 rec – 1704 yards – 12 TDs (358 FPs) versus 99-1320-0 (220 FPs). For DJax: 68-1696-12 (310 FPs) versus 48-816-0 (190 FPs). Both are trending upwards, with Evans a locked-in WR1 any time Fitzpatrick plays, while DJax a far more intriguing WR3 play if his snaps rise above the abysmal ~40% rate he’s recently been logging.

Considering Winston’s absurdly high QB-rating when throwing to TEs, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate seem destined to take fantasy hits here. Yet, Howard is also fresh off a late 4th QTR TD delivered deep down the seams from FitzMagic himself. Thus, an improved overall offense should make the QB switch a wash.

All-in-all, even if erratic and without a clear timeline, Fitzpatrick should be treated as a weekly QB1 option while elevating this entire offense, especially the WRs.

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