Panthers Week 4 plan was perfect. Looked content to leave Norman 1on1 with Jackson (6-85-1 in the second half), and then shade two men to take care of Evans. A really effective game plan against an offense that really only has two even above average passing threats right now. Panthers secondary may well just be death to fantasy receivers.
However, the Bucs next several games are far less intimidating: Washington, Atlanta (Trufant doesn’t shadow much), Giants, Cowboys, Eagles. None of those teams play the type of stifling defense that Carolina does, and Evans could be ready to rip through that stretch based on what I observed in Week 5.
Mike Evans looked more like himself against the Jaguars. He was a bully in-route, which I know bothers some people but it’s what makes him special. He does it subtly with savvy and gets away with it. He also looked better in traffic. He looked like the Evans we know in this game. The struggles in this game had far more to do with his quarterback (next blurb) and offensive flow.
Jameis effect: His mistakes are backbreaking. Took a -8 yards sack in second quarter of the Panthers game where I have no idea what he was trying to do. Seriously. He’s also rarely coming off his first read, or at least one side of the field. That’s going to lead to weeks where he just locks in on one guy. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen that can just as easily be Jackson as much as it could be Evans. Winston does, however, show promise. He made several plays in both of the last two games where he maneuvered the pocket well, eluding defenders while keeping his eyes down field. There’s reason for optimism, but the Bucs clearly saw last week that a formula with less on his plate is better than the alternative. Imagine that. Doug Martin and Charles Sims are both looking great, and the offense should run through them, whenever possible, and not Winston.
Conclusion: It appears Evans is still knocking some rust off and hasn’t hit his stride yet. That will come; I’m not worried about the player. He still carries all the trump cards, but the hamstring injury did seem to cost him chances to refine his game from what he was as a rookie. However, can he reach the fantasy ceiling we imagine for him? That I am less sure of. Winston’s inconsistencies will hamper this offense all year, and the unit should be more backfield driven (Martin and Sims are good enough for that). With the quarterback’s lock-on tendencies right now, we could well see a big game from Evans followed the next week by a big game from Jackson. We’re hoping that Winston soon just develops that preference solely for Evans, because I have been underwhelmed with Jackson thus far in 2015, but we have little tangible evidence right now that it will happen. I’d buy low on Evans as of today, because the general sense I’m getting from his owners is all-out panic, but be ready for some frustration to come with him.