The Week 1 matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons features a familiar divisional rivalry renewed. We've got the fantasy projections courtesy of numberFire.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2016 could be a breakout season for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston. Although his debut season didn’t lead Tampa Bay to a playoff berth, many experts accurately point out that Winston’s personal statistics in 2015 are comparable to reigning regular season MVP Cam Newton’s rookie campaign. Wide receiver Mike Evans is another year older and wiser, and most expect Winston to continue progressing. An opening week matchup against the Falcons should get the sophomore quarterback off to a good start. Atlanta hasn’t had an intimidating defense or secondary in quite a few years and 2016 shouldn’t be any different.
When Winston needs to look to the ground to advance the chains, running back Doug Martin will handle the bulk of the workload. After struggling to stay healthy for two straight years, Martin managed to put together a full 16-game season last year and that benefited fantasy owners to the tune of just over 1,400 yards rushing. Martin’s weekly performance was his best since his rookie year, and if he can stay on the field two seasons in a row he should play above his draft position, especially if the Buccaneers manage to win more games overall. The Muscle Hamster should run all over the Falcons on Sunday.
Ask anybody who the top three receivers in the NFL today are and you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who wouldn’t include the Falcons’ Julio Jones in their rankings. He’s a downright beast in terms of racking up receptions, yards and touchdowns. Jones posted career highs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and yards per game last season. He is as sure a bet as there is to rack up 100 yards on any given Sunday, and the Buccaneers don’t exactly have anybody who can stop him. Fantasy owners will be happy with his output to start the season.
Another certainty for the Falcons offense this season is running back Devonta Freeman. Last year didn’t start that way, with teammate Tevin Coleman initially earning a share of the carries. A 1,000-yard rushing season to go with 14 total touchdowns make Freeman an indispensable commodity. Given that he’s clearly the workhorse running back in Atlanta now, Freeman should post higher yardage totals on the season. His consistency and productivity will begin to display itself on Sunday.