This Thursday night we have an NFC South showdown between two 0-1 teams looking to get on track. The Buccaneers had a game they’d certainly like to forget at home and travel to Charlotte on a short week to take on the Panthers. Thursday night football early in the year can be sloppy, but with the playmakers on these two rosters, there is shootout potential here.
After plenty of offseason buzz around the Buccaneers offense, they disappointed in what had the makings of an ideal matchup. Jameis Winston once again appeared to be the same guy we’ve seen throughout his NFL career. While he can make some very difficult throws, Winston almost once a game will show decision making on a play that leaves everyone scratching their heads. Despite his enigmatic play, Winston still is worth a shot in two quarterback leagues this week in a game where the Buccaneers could be playing from behind. One positive for the Bucs offense last week was the play of Ronald Jones. as he showed the ability many envisioned as a prospect out of USC. For fantasy owners, Jones is still a shaky play as the Buccaneers appear to have a full on running back by committee with Jones, Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale.
Mike Evans played through an illness last Sunday, and didn’t appear to really find a rhythm. If you have him, you’ll have to play Evans, but assuming he’s healthy it’s fair to assume his normal production. Chris Godwin led the team in targets this past week and was a rare bright spot offensively. Running primarily out of the slot, Godwin remains a starting receiver across all fantasy leagues. O.J. Howard had a rough game as well, but he should still see his normal role in this one. It will be worth monitoring Cameron Brate’s role in this matchup. He not Howard was the Buccaneer tight end with two touchdowns called back due to penalties last week.
After working on a new throwing motion this offseason, Cam Newton was ineffective in week one. Granted, he should have a more favorable matchup this week. Surprisingly, Newton ran just three times for negative two yards last week so it wouldn’t be a shock if he got more involved in that regard. Christian McCaffrey picked up exactly where he left off in 2018. With the ideal skillset for a running back in 2019, McCaffrey also has the volume and snap count to be a matchup proof fantasy play. The Buccaneers defense didn’t struggle the way many expected last week, but that shouldn’t stop McCaffrey from getting his.
D.J. Moore looked like the Panthers number one wideout last week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he once again saw double digit targets. A player the Panthers can play in the outside and slot, Moore should be active in all leagues this week. Curtis Samuel got a ton of offseason buzz, but saw just four targets in week one. There’s a chance Samuel is fourth in the team’s passing game pecking order, but he’s worth patiently holding onto in fantasy leagues. Greg Olsen is currently questionable for this matchup, but if unable to go Ian Thomas could be an interesting replacement. Thomas showed pass catching chops as a rookie last season, and if you really need a tight end could be a decent streaming option for fantasy owners.
While this game should be close throughout, I’m expecting McCaffrey carrying the load offensively, and the Panthers pass rush to be too much for the Buccaneers. Winston struggled under pressure this past week, and while the Panthers couldn’t pull out a win, they were able to get to Jared Goff consistently. My prediction is Buccaneers 21 Panthers (-6.5) 28