Fantasy 5: Jameis Winston shaping up for a strong second season

The Tampa Bay QB had flashes as a rookie, and as Jeff Ratcliffe notes, he's slimmer for his second year. That and fantasy notes.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Fantasy 5: Jameis Winston shaping up for a strong second season

Every weekday, the Fantasy 5 will take a look at the five most important NFL news stories for fantasy football players, giving you the advice you need to improve your team.

It’s the final countdown. Football returns tonight, with six games on the slate and a ton of action to watch. We’ll check in on the biggest developments in tomorrow’s Fantasy 5, but before we do, here are the five things to know from the last 24 hours.

1. Jameis Winston in good shape and shaping up to be a strong QB2.

The PFF Training Camp Tour stopped by Bucs camp this week, and our analysts noticed Winston’s trimmed-down physique. According to our guys, he’s “lost a lot of weight, and looks dramatically more athletic in appearance because of it.” Winston played at more than 250 pounds at times last season. He’s been reported to have lost 20 pounds in the offseason.

Our team pointed out that Winston struggled a bit early in the session, but heated up later on. In red-zone drills nearly every pass was a touchdown. In contrast, Winston’s backup, Mike Glennon, generally struggled throughout the day, throwing poor passes and getting picked off in a key two-minute drill.

Last season, Winston accomplished the rare feat of topping 4,000 passing yards as a rookie. He joined Andrew Luck and Cam Newton as the only rookies to do so. Winston finished the season 13th in fantasy scoring, though his numbers were boosted a bit by six rushing touchdowns. While we’re very likely to see a regression in his rushing stats, Winston is poised to take a step forward as a passer. He’s a solid late-round option in one-quarterback leagues.

2. Despite positive reports on Marvin Jones, Golden Tate is still the Lions’ top fantasy WR.

The former Bengals receiver has reportedly stood out at Lions camp, and “it hasn’t been close” according to MLive’s Kyle Meinke. Jones has been developing chemistry with QB Matthew Stafford and has emerged as his favorite target in camp. At the same time, Tate has had an issue with dropping passes.

While it’s easy to take this news and run with it, it’s important that we don’t overreact here. Jones is flashing the exact skillset that made him an attractive free agent signing for the Lions. His wide catch radius and ability to play above the rim helped Jones to a 10-touchdown season in 2013. However, Tate is still going to be a big part of this offense, and is a very real candidate for triple-digit catches. This may be a 1 and 1A situation, but there’s no reason to go and significantly adjust Tate and Jones on your draft board. Tate is still the preferred fantasy option.

3. Ladarius Green trending down.

Out from under Antonio Gates’ shadow, Green is poised for a potentially big season in Pittsburgh. That is, if he can get back on the field. Green is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and remains on the active/PUP list. When asked about the Steelers tight end situation, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t mention Green and then gave a shoulder shrug when asked how Green was progressing.

It isn’t quite time to panic just yet, but that’s not good at all. Green is extremely athletic and has massive upside, but you can’t make the club in the tub. Missing all of this time really puts Green behind the eight ball. It’s a huge red flag for fantasy purposes. At this point, Green’s ADP has him coming off the board as the 10th tight end. If he doesn’t get back on the field soon, we’re going to want to move him down our draft boards into more of the late-round flier range.

[We liked Green as a sleeper tight end, but this news might change that. So what tight end should you end up with instead? Take a spin with PFF’s new Draft Master tool to figure out the best approach, plus get recommendations on the players you should target in every round of your draft.]

4. Andre Williams is the Rashad Jennings handcuff?

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Giants rookie RB Paul Perkins, but it’s actually been Williams who has received first-team work so far in camp. Williams is positioned as the early-down backup to Jennings with Shane Vereen inked in as the passing-down option. Williams could also steal short-yardage and goal-line work from Jennings. Perkins was one of the most elusive backs in the FBS last season and has a potential three-down skillset, but the Giants remain committed to getting Williams on the field.

With Jennings healthy for all 16 games last year, we didn’t see much of Williams. He had just 88 carries, and averaged an abysmal 2.9 yards per carry along with just 1.8 yards after contact per attempt. His numbers weren’t much better in 2014. Williams led the Giants in carries with 216, but produced at a clip of just 3.3 yards per tote. There’s minimal fantasy value in Williams as a handcuff. Perhaps Perkins carves out more of a role as camp wears on, but he’s looking like the clear No. 4 at this point.

5. Jimmy Graham active, but still a borderline TE1.

The Seahawks activated Graham off the PUP list on Wednesday. He’s reportedly lost 15 pounds and is back to his college playing weight of 260 pounds. Graham returns from a ruptured patellar tendon that he suffered in Week 12. The injury is a notoriously difficult one for football players to recover from, and is the same injury Giants WR Victor Cruz suffered during the 2014 season.

Once fantasy’s top tight end in 2012 and 2013, Graham failed to produce front-end TE1 numbers in the Seahawks’ run-heavy offense last season. He was still a top-10 fantasy option before the injury, but Seattle’s conservative pass game limited his opportunities. While Graham still offers upside, the injury plus Seattle’s offensive tendencies make him less than ideal for fantasy purposes. He’s best viewed as a fringe TE1.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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