Kap & Haugh: Bucs QB Jameis Winston's fantasy outlook


Kap & Haugh: Bucs QB Jameis Winston's fantasy outlook

Jameis Winston will enter his rookie season with the most fantasy upside of any first-year quarterback since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin in 2012.

In that year, Griffin became a top-five fantasy signal caller after rushing for 815 yards and seven scores while adding 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air. Luck was nearly as good, throwing for nearly 4,400 yards and 23 touchdown passes for the 11-5 Colts.

Winston undoubtedly has the tools to become an elite pocket passer. Former NFL running back Eddie George, who joined Kap & Haugh on Friday, believes Winston will prove as much in his rookie season:

"I think Jameis Winston (will be better than No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota), because I think he's more NFL-ready. He comes from a pro system, he understands the nuances of the system," George said. "There were times when you watched him last year bringing his team back from several touchdowns down. You're going to find yourself in that position in the NFL, so he can play from behind, he can play from ahead,  he can make every throw there is to make, he's a great leader on the field, he can manipulate a secondary."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

It will also help Winston that he's surrounded by talent. In Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, the Bucs tout one of the best 1-2 wide receiver combinations in the NFL. The pair combined for 138 receptions, 2,053 yards and 14 touchdown receptions last year despite having Josh McCown and Mike Glennon under center. Talented rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins has reportedly looked great in summer camp, while Tampa Bay spent two second-round picks on offensive linemen (Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet).

Running back is an issue, and the defense still needs work, but that could mean more airing it out for Winston in his first season.

It's still too risky to gamble on Winston being your No. 1 quarterback heading into your fantasy Week 1, but with the talent around him to succeed, all the tangible tools and memories of Luck and Griffin dominating as rookies, don't let Winston fall too far on draft day. Scoop him up as a high upside QB2 in the mid-to-late rounds.

(Too) Bold Predictions: A big day for the Bears' running backs

(Too) Bold Predictions: A big day for the Bears' running backs

You've stumbled into (Too) Bold Predictions, a weekly column that is exactly what it sounds like! Here, we'll take nuanced, well-researched information and use to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 


J.J. Stankevitz 

1. Jordan Howard will have his first 100-yard game of the year.
Hear me out: This happens if Bill Belichick’s strategy is to drop seven or even eight defenders into zone coverage, forcing Mitch Trubisky to make good decisions and fit passes into tight windows against a secondary that’s the strength of the Patriots’ defense. Or...Matt Nagy recognizes what’s in front of him and pounds the ball to Howard 15-20 times with plenty of success. Belichick, too, was extremely complimentary of Tarik Cohen on a conference call with Chicago media this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Cohen is the guy the future Hall of Fame coach tries to take away. Either way, it’s also worth noting here the Patriots allowed Kerryon Johnson to become the first Detroit Lions running back to have a 100-yard game since 2013 (!) in Week 2. And Howard still has shown flashes this year, like the 34 yards he gained on consecutive carries in overtime against Miami. 


2. Danny Trevathan or Roquan Smith will make a big play when it counts.
Given how good the rookie running back combo of Sony Michel (67 carries, 236 yards) and James White (23 receptions, 198 yards) has been recently, a lot of the Bears’ defensive success will hinge on the inside linebacking play of Trevathan and Smith. Trevathan has had an up-and-down year, playing outstanding ball in Weeks 2 and 4 but having some issues against the likes of David Johnson and Kenyan Drake/Frank Gore. Smith’s athleticism stands out but he’s still growing into Vic Fangio’s defense. Sunday will be a major test for both of them, and if the Bears are to win, it may come down to one of these two guys making a big-time play: A forced fumble, interception, run stuff on third down, etc. For the sake of a bold prediction, I’ll go with Smith making a play at the end of Sunday’s game that stands as the first big moment of the rookie’s pro career. 


Cam Ellis

1. Tarik Cohen's performance will garner the attention of national media 
Last Sunday night, Kansas City's Tyreek Hill had seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged almost 21 yards per catch, thanks in part to a 75-yard touchdown score late in the 4th. The Patriots' defense clearly had no answer for Hill's speed. Now Cohen isn't a carbon copy of Hill, but he plays a similar role in the Bears' offense that Hill plays for the Chiefs. New England's linebackers lack and real speed -- especially on the outside -- which obviously bodes well for Cohen. Belichick is notoriously for creating game plans that take away the other team's best offensive players, but with the personell he has on defense, it's going to be tough to matchup with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, AND Cohen. The guess here is that Robinson and Gabriel have quiet games, but Cohen runs circles around the Pats. 


2. The Bears and Pats are tied heading into the 4th quarter
For a team with aspirations of an NFC North title (and more) this shouldn't be a bold prediction, and yet, it kinda feels like it? After a slow start to the season, the Patriots' offense have scored at least 38 points in each of the last three games. This Bears defense is the best they'll have played yet, so I don't expect them to get anywhere close to 38 today, especially with how the defense played last week in Miami. I think New England comes out of Chicago with a win, but the Bears will play them closer than people are predicting. A Cody Parkey-Stephen Gostkowski battle royale could be in play. 

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.