What We Saw: Week 2

Ryan Kruse takes a look at the Thursday night matchup between Carolina and Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers


Tampa Bay Buccaneers




  • Jameis Winston: 16/25, 208, 1 TD | 4 carries, 9 yards


Jameis Winston impressed plenty of fantasy players and likely pissed off the rest of the people who already dropped him. It isn’t like he threw four touchdowns and made you curse the heavens that you benched him, but this is a step in the right direction for Winston. He got off to a slow start but found a rhythm after the weather delay. Jameis came out of the delay with a nice drive that ended with an incomplete pass to Mike Evans in the end zone. He zinged it up pretty high but it was by no means a bad throw. 

Even when Winston has a “good” game it’s still a mixed bag. He was efficient for the most part but he still had his fair share of low and wild passes. In typical fashion, the only reason he didn’t throw an interception was that the defender somehow dropped a ball he should have easily caught. It wasn’t all bad though. Jameis placed the ball well when he hit Mike Evans for a 41-yard bomb. His lone touchdown pass to Godwin was another solid throw. Winston went through his reads quickly and anticipated Godwin open with his very last read as the pocket collapsed around him. It’s worth noting that the Buccaneers had plenty of silly offensive fouls and could barely convert a third down. Jameis Winston may be worth keeping an eye on but I doubt you need to go put a waiver claim for him unless you play in a ridiculously deep league. Good, but still not the QB1 performance we were looking for. 


Running Backs


  • Peyton Barber: 23 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD | 1 reception, 7 yards, 1 target
  • Ronald Jones III: 4 carries, 9 yards
  • Dare Ogunbowale: 1 reception, 9 yards, 1 target


Peyton Barber got the start like Bruce Arians said he would. Arians also said Jones would get plenty of opportunities but that turned out to be a lie. The Buccaneers have been saying for the past two weeks that they would ride whichever back had the hot hand. I suppose Byron Leftwich saw something he likes in Barber because he got the lion’s share of the carries against the Panthers. I was surprised that Ronald Jones III didn’t get a single rep until the end of the first quarter. It’s not like he was terrible either. Jones had a nice 12-yard run on his last carry of the night.

Here’s my quick take on Peyton Barber. He seems to have great vision and can be impressively elusive when he’s in space. The only problem is that Barber can’t utilize his vision when he can’t see beyond his own line. Barber seems to consistently gain solid chunks of yards when his line provides a sufficient hole. (Running back is good when his line blocks, hot take I know.) His touchdown run is a perfect example. Barber had a great hole to run through and once he got into open space he used that elusiveness to just barely get into the end zone while the safety tried to make a one-on-one play against him. That’s not to say the Buccaneers ran well. Barber had plenty of plays where he was stuffed behind his line. It’s entirely possible his fantasy success (about 15 points PPR) was due to his volume. Dare Ogunbowale is droppable in all leagues if he wasn’t already.


Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends


  • Mike Evans: 4 receptions, 61 yards, 8 targets
  • Chris Godwin: 8 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD, 9 targets
  • O.J. Howard: Goose egg
  • Cameron Brate: 2 receptions, 10 yards, 2 targets
  • Breshad Perriman: Goose egg, 4 targets


There were absolutely no other fantasy-relevant wide receivers on the Buccaneers besides Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Plenty of fantasy players will be upset with Evans’ performance but I wouldn’t get too worried just yet. He was sick last week and this week was a bit flukey. Evans almost had a touchdown early in the game but he had to make a tough one-handed grab over his shoulder that he just couldn’t come down with. He was targeted near the end zone two more times so I wouldn’t stress about him. 10 points is pretty much his floor.

After an underwhelming Week 1, Chris Godwin absolutely blew up against the Panthers and fantasy players should be patting themselves on the back for drafting him. Godwin is quickly earning Winston’s trust with smart catches that aren’t immediately noticeable. He’s doing a great job of getting in front of his defender, especially when Winston throws it behind. He’s exactly the type of receiver that quarterbacks love and Winston has proven he will continually look to the guys he trusts (Mike Evans and O.J. Howard last year). Cameron Brate and Howard both had awful games and I’m wondering if it’s time to jump ship on the Buccaneers tight ends. It possible they just got scripted out of the game, but I would be looking elsewhere for next week if I had one of these two tight ends. Breshad Perriman had a bad night too. He had a target in the end zone but let it go right through his hands. I would drop him like a bad habit if he’s still on your roster.


Carolina Panthers




  • Cam Newton: 25/51, 333 yards | 2 carries, 0 yards


Man, Cam Newton is simply not looking like his old self. We all knew the Panthers were trying to change up his game and limit his running to preserve the longevity of his career. It’s why they drafted Christian McCaffrey a few years ago. I was hesitant to push the narrative that Cam has lost arm strength/accuracy but this game was pretty telling. Maybe the weather had something to do with it but when Jameis Winston is throwing the ball more accurately than you in the same game it isn’t a good sign. Some of his throws were ridiculously off the mark, particularly when he tried to throw downfield. Yeah, he hit Curtis Samuel for a nice deep pass, but if it wasn’t underthrown there’s a chance it could have been a touchdown. His very next throw to Samuel was from shorter range but completely off target, sailing over his head. If I’m not mistaken, his only accurate deep ball in the first half was the aforementioned completion to Samuel. 

The poor throws only got worse as the game went on. Newton missed a wide-open DJ Moore in the fourth quarter for what would have been a big first down on a possibly-game-winning drive. He then immediately threw behind Samuel on a pass that was only about five yards out. It’s worth noting that Samuel had nothing but open space around him on this play; had he caught the bad pass, he could have gained a huge chunk of yards with the game on the line. The Panthers offense was inefficient across the board. They only converted three third downs on 14 attempts.


Running Backs


  • Christian McCaffrey: 16 carries, 37 yards | 2 receptions, 16 yards, 6 targets


Take notes, NFL defenses, because Todd Bowles just wrote the book on how to stop Christian McCaffrey. The Buccaneers defense completely bottled up CMC, limiting him to only 37 yards on the ground! For reference, he had 128 rushing yards just last week. The Bucs brought the pressure early and often and took away any lanes McCaffrey might use to break off a solid run. McCaffrey couldn’t do much on the ground when the Bucs were pressuring so well. When the line couldn’t create any gaps, the Panthers tried running it to the outside which was equally ineffective. CMC tried to run as far to the outside as he could to gain just the least bit of yardage on the Panthers last play and he still couldn’t get there. 

This offense freaking runs through McCaffrey. If he isn’t running, he’s catching. When he isn’t catching, it’s a fake to McCaffrey, then a deep shot downfield. The Panthers do a great job of forcing opposing defenses to respect CMC, but the Buccaneers completely removed him from the equation. The bad weather likely helped the Bucs defense anticipate more runs. I wanted to see more passes to CMC but he is usually the check-down read for Newton. Cam tried a few times but couldn’t quite get it to McCaffrey because he already had a 300-pound monster taking him down. I’ll be watching the Panthers closely next week to make sure they get McCaffrey more involved in the passing game. 


Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends


  • DJ Moore: 9 receptions, 89 yards, 14 targets
  • Curtis Samuel: 5 receptions, 91 yards, 13 targets | 1 carry, 2 yards
  • Greg Olsen: 6 receptions, 110 yards, 9 targets
  • Jarius Wright: 2 receptions, 15 yards, 6 targets
  • Chris Hogan:  1 reception, 12 yards, 1 target


To be honest, I feel like the only thing holding the receivers back tonight was Cam Newton. Over these first two weeks of the season, it seems the Panthers have shied away from the long ball. The only guy going for the deep pass nine times out of ten is Curtis Samuel and I think people shouldn’t be sleeping on him. The Panthers clearly want to use his speed to their advantage. Samuel had a 44-yarder where he beat his defender so badly he could have taken it to the house if Cam hit him in stride. The Panthers are even throwing Samuel in the occasional run play, which is encouraging. 

Good ol’ Greg Olsen had himself an awesome game. This game of football we know and love has banged him up. He’s a tough guy playing with that bloody cotton swab in his nose and a sore back, but his age still shows, especially after he’s tackled and slow to get up. That said, he came out swinging in the second half with some great catches. If you had to start him (like me) you’ve got to be excited about his performance. He’s rostered in about 60% of leagues and you’ve got to wonder how many people out there will be bidding some FAAB money for him after this week. Just remember that he’s already playing with a sore back and his foot injury nagged at him all last year. Sometimes it feels like any game could be his last. 

DJ Moore was great tonight too. He has Cam’s confidence, especially on short throws. Moore’s long was 15 yards last week and 18 this week. Don’t expect him to get those deep bombs. I think his fantasy relevance will be directly tied to the way this offense has been playing. That is to say, if the Panthers keep throwing all these short passes, the receivers may have reliable floors but could end up with unimpressive ceilings if the Panthers don’t find the end zone (like tonight). Jarius Wright and Chris Hogan were afterthoughts tonight but nobody was really starting them anyway.


 — Ryan Kruse


(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

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