Fast Connections, Week 16: Winston, Perriman in sync


This week's edition of Fast Connections highlights a trio of quarterbacks who have endured up-and-down seasons but have found a rhythm throwing to previously underutilized targets.

Jameis Winston and Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arguably no quarterback has delivered a more polarizing season than Jameis Winston. The former No. 1 overall pick enters Week 16 tied for the second most games with four or more touchdown passes this season (three). He also leads all players in multi-interception games (seven) and needs just six more picks over the final two weeks to record the first 30-touchdown, 30-interception season in NFL history. Further compounding the matter, the Buccaneers have to make a decision this offseason on whether to re-sign or franchise tag Winston or let him depart in free agency.

While Winston tries to secure his future in Tampa Bay, he will have to operate without either of his top wide receivers. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, each of which registered more than 1,150 yards and eight touchdowns, will miss the remainder of the year with hamstring injuries. Their absences will force Breshad Perriman into an important role over the next two weeks.

Perriman joined the Buccaneers in March after the receiver lost his spot in Cleveland following the blockbuster Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Perriman saw little action the first two months of the season, hauling in just three passes for 16 yards. However, his role has transformed just in time for the fantasy playoffs, catching 13 passes for a robust 270 yards and four touchdowns over the last three weeks.

Next Gen Stats says ...

Though the Buccaneers didn't use Perriman for much of the year, he accounts for a sizable chunk of their air yards. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Perriman has 725 air yards entering Week 16, a robust 13.2% of the team's entire total. Perriman's air yards per target (14.8, second highest on Tampa Bay) largely explain that figure.

Mitch Trubisky and Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

Whether the Bears decide to continue the Mitch Trubisky experiment next season or not, he has played better in recent weeks. In must-have games against the Lions and Cowboys, he accounted for seven total touchdowns and just two turnovers, his best stretch of the year. And though Trubisky didn't deliver a third stellar performance last week against the Packers, he did enough to keep Chicago in the contest until the final seconds of regulation.

Part of Trubisky's recent success relates to the emergence of second-year wideout Anthony Miller. Miller looked like a missed draft pick for the first two and a half months of the season, failing to reach the 70-yard threshold as a receiver. That has changed over the Bears' last four games, topping that mark three times and amassing 27 catches for 377 yards and two scores.

But the numbers don't fully encapsulate Miller's late-season improvement. He has become a reliable target in clutch situations, such as his fourth-down reception last week against the Packers:

Next Gen Stats says ...

When available, Miller has a knack for getting open. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he leads all Bears wideouts in creating 3 yards or more of separation (43.9%). He also ranks behind only Allen Robinson in air-yardage share (24.0%).

Jared Goff and Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

After throwing zero touchdowns the entire month of November, Jared Goff has rebounded somewhat during the Rams' last three games. Though Goff could still take better care of the football -- he has three picks over that stretch -- he has thrown two touchdowns in each of those contests.

Much of that production has gone through Tyler Higbee. Quietly, no tight end has accrued more fantasy points over the last three weeks than Higbee, who has 26 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown during that span. For an offense that focused more heavily on wideouts in previous years, Higbee has grown into a valuable weapon, one that could help them reach the postseason for the third consecutive year.

Next Gen Stats says ...

Though not known as a slippery route runner, Higbee leads all Rams wideouts and tight ends in open rate (3 yards or more of separation) at 56.1%. He also leads the group in wide-open rate (5 yards or more) at 31.8%.

-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is a fantasy analyst for Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH