What We Learned: 2021 Preseason
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles are back together in Tampa Bay, and they’re picking up where they left off.
After an ugly week one game against the Niners, most us were ready to chalk up Tampa’s defensive performance as a flash in the pan.
“Eh, let’s see them do it against a real offense,” we said.
“Bet.” replied the Bucs on Thursday Night Football.
If you had Cam Newton or Christian McCaffery playing, I’m sure you’re well aware of what I’m talking about. In four quarters, Newton and the Panthers offense had nine trips inside Tampa territory. They failed to score a single touchdown. The Panthers 14 points came from four Joey Slye field goals (who I will talk about later) and a safety on defense.
Keep in mind, the Arizona Cardinals finished as a top-eight fantasy defense the last two seasons Bowles was a defensive coordinator under Arians. He’s got this Tampa defense flying around in 2019.
To begin the second half against the Panthers, the Buccaneers forced an incompletion on seven straight third-downs.
After he exploded for 200+ all-purpose yards and two TD’s in week one, the Bucs held McCaffery to 51 total yards and zero TD’s on 18 touches (2.8 yards per touch).
Cam completed just 24 of his 50 pass attempts (45 percent). Make no mistake, most of his incompletions were the result of good defense, but a good chunk of them were his own fault.
Newton just hasn’t looked like the fantasy stud we knew him as in the past. His body language looked defeated, he missed open receivers, under-threw a would-be touchdown to Curtis Samuel, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s flat-out not running the ball (-2 yards rushing in 2019). He hasn’t even scored a touchdown yet this season! There have been no big smiles, no over-the-top celebrations, and no rushing stats to speak of. Is this really Cam Newton we’re talking about? The same guy who rushed for 10 TD’s and was the League MVP in 2015? Who is this imposter, and what has he done with Super Cam?
This post was supposed to be about how I thought the Bucs defense had fantasy value... But the more I write, the more I worry about Newton, and I don’t even have him on a fantasy team this year!
If there’s one positive thing to takeaway from Cam playing badly, it’s that it opens up the door for another Panther to emerge as a fantasy stud. That’s right. Joey Slye baby.
The rookie kicker has an absolute missile of a leg. He went 4-4 on Thursday Night Football, including two 50+ yarders that had enough air under them to have been good from 60. He’s played in 6 games so far, including the preseason. He’s hit a 50+ yarder in all but one of those games (long: 59 yards). In his two regular-season games, Slye has already attempted four field goals from 50 or farther and hit three of them. For reference, in 13 NFL seasons, Stephen Gostkowski has hit more than three 50+ yard field goals in a season just three times.
This kids got a boot, and the Panthers clearly trust him enough to let him kick from distance.
Carolina will be able to move the ball better in the future, but until the real Cam Newton shows up to replace the continues-to-be-held-out-of-the-endzone Cam Newton, there’s top-five fantasy potential for Slye.
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye (4) kicks a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.