Tampa Bay at Carolina – Jameis Winston
It’s amazing that at just 24 years old, the former first-overall pick has had the rug pulled out from underneath him. It’s crazy to think that a struggling franchise like Tampa Bay was so quick to hit the emergency stop button on someone they had figured to build around for the next decade. Instead, Tampa Bay looks content with Ryan Fitzpatrick calling the shots for the short-term while the team also turn its eyes toward the draft. Winston’s 2019 money is only guaranteed if he suffers an injury, so Tampa Bay made a move to save it the trouble of needing to deal with him at all next season. Winston will garner a ton of attention in the free agent market for sure but Tampa Bay seems as though it has seen enough. If Fitzpatrick keeps his magic-wand working, Winston will move closer and closer to becoming some other team’s problem. If Fitzpatrick can continue to keep both DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans happy and productive, Winston will be moving closer to a departure flight out of Tampa Bay.
Detroit and Minnesota – Matthew Stafford
This will be the first time in the last 71 games that Stafford will be without Golden Tate, his most trustworthy receiver. Stafford has seen guys come and go over the years but since 2014, Tate has been a constant for the Detroit quarterback. The 30-year-old Notre Dame alumni has played in every game for Detroit and has only one season with less than 1,000 yards. Even in a substandard season in 2015, he still managed to catch 90 passes, which were the fewest in a single season for him in Detroit. All in all, everything he did for Detroit was impressive. Now, take away him away from an already underwhelming Matthew Stafford and we could be getting ready for a further regression. With a little more than 1,900 yards and 14 passing touchdowns on the year, Stafford just had the contributions of more than 500 yards and three of those scores shown the door. Can Stafford maintain a pace that most were dissatisfied with, or will he actually see his fantasy floor drop out from beneath him? Oh, and Stafford drew a short straw this week as he’s forced to take on the Minnesota defense. His once undisputed QB1 label could turn into a bye week only option if the absence of Golden Tate is noticed.
Houston at Denver – Emmanuel Sanders
To this point in the season, Sanders may have the title of “Fantasy Value Pick” from our 2018 drafts. With roughly 700 total yards and five combined touchdowns, Sanders has been a WR1 since we drafted him in a WR4/5 spot. His quarterback hasn’t lived up to last years success and yet, Sanders has been able to hang up big numbers. Up until the trade deadline, quarterback Case Keenum felt the pressure the get fellow wide receiver Demaryius Thomas involved. Thomas has looked uninterested and Keenum has seemed incapable of getting that done. Well, now, Thomas is in Houston and Sanders is all alone with Keenum. We may actually see Sanders’ workload increase with Thomas out of town. The other side to this equation though is that Sanders is going to see every team’s best cornerback. So the question becomes, given his now unquestioned lead role in Denver, will this result as a positive or a negative?
Pittsburgh at Baltimore – James Conner
We’ve all seen the statistic that the four letter network ran away with last week. In case you missed it, Conner this year has either matched or completely blown the doors off of any stat that Le’Veon Bell had through this point last season. The games that Pittsburgh has lost has not been due to the running game. Convential wisdom would have suggested that with Conner’s success, Bell would be expendable and thusly moved at the trade deadline. Instead, Bell remains with Pittsburgh but also remains away from the team. Can Conner do enough to keep Bell out of the team’s immediate game-plan while also setting him up for a new team in 2019? We’ve asked a lot of the “steal of the draft” in Conner already but a little bit more could go a very long way.
Dallas at Tennessee – Dak Prescott
What does a quarterback need to succeed at the pro level? Well for starters, they need to have a good line in front of them to protect you and allow the plays to develop. Secondly, they need a running game to balance out the offense so defenses can’t drop back into coverage on every play. Lastly, they’ll need someone who can go up and get a jump-ball. Someone who works as a favorite and most reliable option to whom to air the ball out. Through out the first half of the 2018 regular season, Prescott has had two out of the three needed components for success. Before their bye week, though, Dallas traded next year’s first-round pick, to bring in someone who could make this three out of three for Prescott. If Amari Cooper can gel with one of the more high upside and young duos of Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas could have its newest big three to drive their offense. Prescott needs all the help he can get as his fantasy value was circling the drain up until this move. If he can surpass his previous high of 273 yards and finally break the 300-yard barrier, he could have the potential to return to fantasy relevance but he needs to get on the same page as Amari Cooper quickly.