"It doesn't matter who's our quarterback," tight end O.J. Howard said. "It's all about us running our routes, our timing ... each guy knows how each player runs routes and they're comfortable with everybody."
Tight end Cameron Brate added: "We have confidence with whoever's in there."
The Buccaneers announced on Monday that Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback this week at the Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
Perhaps the playcalling itself doesn't change, but the numbers suggest that at tight end, each quarterback has his preference. Those preferences have some interesting fantasy implications, which are important to be mindful of considering the Panthers have allowed 87 points to opposing tight ends, second-most of any team in the league.
Fitzpatrick loves Howard. Winston loves Brate.
This season, Brate has 11 catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns and Howard has 24 catches for 419 yards and three TDs.
Brate's numbers take a real hit when Winston goes to the bench -- Howard's not as much. From 2017-18, when Fitzpatrick is under center, Brate's targets per route run drop from 21 percent to 14.
The most noticeable difference is in throws to the end zone. Brate has been targeted 25 percent of the time on passes from Winston in the end zone -- those numbers drop to 14.3 percent with Fitzpatrick. Howard hasn't been targeted by Winston once in the end zone in 2018. With Fitzpatrick, Howard's end zone targets rise to 12.5 percent of routes run.
If you look at 2017-18, Winston targeted Brate 33.3 percent of his routes run in the end zone, whereas Howard was 13.3 percent. With Fitzpatrick from 2017-18, Howard has been targeted 23.1 percent in the end zone and Brate 16.7 percent.
Looking at their fantasy points, since 2017, Howard has 51 fantasy points on throws from Fitzpatrick, (70 on PPR), while Brate has 23.5, (34.5 PPR). On throws from Winston since 2017, Howard has 84.1 fantasy points (115.1 PPR), while Brate has 99 (147 PPR).
In 2018, Howard has 36 fantasy points on throws from Fitzpatrick (48 PPR), Brate has 10.1 (14.1 PPR). On throws from Winston in 2018, Howard has 23.9 fantasy points (35.9 PPR), while Brate has 17.3 (24.3 PPR).
What are fantasy owners to do while the Bucs play musical chairs with their quarterback room?
Howard is the more reliable option, regardless of who is at quarterback. But it's best to only start Brate if Winston is playing. Coach Dirk Koetter didn't close the door on Winston returning this season, so you can keep him on your bench.
Fitzpatrick will start this week and the Bucs will reassess after that.