Evan Silva

Matchups

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Matchups: Patriots at Bucs

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Thursday Night Football

New England @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Patriots 30.5, Buccaneers 25

Thursday night island games are never the most predictable, but Pats-Bucs has Week 5’s highest game total (55.5) and projects as a shootout at Raymond James Stadium with Jameis Winston near the forefront. All four quarterbacks to face New England have topped 300 passing yards with multiple TD passes, including Alex Smith, Deshaun Watson in his second NFL start, and previously-left-for-dead Cam Newton. Coming off his season-best game against a stout Giants pass defense, Winston should be teed up with confidence. The Patriots played league-worst defense in the first month, giving up AFC highs in points (32.2) and yards (423.8) per game and allowing enemy pass catchers to run virtually uncovered through their secondary. … As the Bucs are on a short week, Doug Martin got in very little practice time ahead of Thursday night’s game coming off his three-week suspension, during which he was away from the team and reportedly watched games in sports bars. I think Jacquizz Rodgers will operate as Tampa Bay’s lead back for at least one more week. New England has been rinsed on the ground, giving up a combined 78/419/5.37/2 rushing line to enemy backs and a league-high 320 receiving yards to the position. Rodgers is a risky flex option with Martin back, but he’s usable for owners in bye-week binds.

Winston’s Weeks 2-4 target distribution: Mike Evans 32; DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries 20; Cameron Brate 13; O.J. Howard 8; Chris Godwin and Charles Sims 5; Rodgers 3. … In Weeks 1-4, the Patriots were gutted by Tyreek Hill (7/133/1), Kelvin Benjamin (4/104/0), Michael Thomas (5/89/0), Brandon Coleman (4/82/1), DeAndre Hopkins (7/76/0), Devin Funchess (7/70/2), and Bruce Ellington (4/59/1). All three Patriots cornerbacks – LCB Stephon Gilmore, RCB Malcolm Butler, SCB Eric Rowe – earned temporary early-season benchings. Evans and Jackson are set up for big Thursday night games. … Humphries has run only four fewer routes on the season than Jackson and offers WR4/flex appeal in deeper PPR leagues. Dating back to last season, Humphries has at least six catches in three of his last four games. Humphries runs nearly 80% of his routes in the slot. As Eric Rowe (groin) appears unlikely to play, the Patriots will likely turn to special teamer Jonathan Jones at slot corner. … Howard out-snapped Brate in each of the Bucs’ first three games, but Brate has 10 catches to Howard’s 4 because Howard is blocking on 62% of his snaps, while Brate blocks only 28% of the time. As Brate is a valued possession target and Howard was college football’s premier blocking tight end at Alabama, this is their optimal real-life usage. It also makes Brate the far-superior fantasy option. Tight ends to face the Patriots so far are Ed Dickson (3/62/0), Ryan Griffin (5/61/1), Coby Fleener (3/33/1), and Travis Kelce (5/40/0).

Tom Brady heads to Tampa Bay with weekly finishes of QB1, QB1, QB10 in Weeks 2-4, exhibiting both a high floor and ceiling with 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in all three games. After facing Mike Glennon in their opener, the injury-ruined Bucs defense yielded overall QB3 and QB4 results to Case Keenum and Eli Manning. Especially appetizing for Brady is Tampa Bay’s pass-funnel tendency; the Bucs have been gashed by the pass while limiting enemy running backs to a combined 72/196/2.72/1 rushing line. This is a smash spot for Tom Terrific. … James White’s weekly touch counts have been uneven (13 > 10 > 6 > 11), but his role has still been most consistent in New England’s backfield. He is an every-week PPR flex consideration, and one whose outlook is elevated in matchups with high-scoring probability like this. … Contrary to popular belief, Mike Gillislee isn’t this year’s LeGarrette Blount, who averaged 19.1 touches per game and was consistent for the most part last season. Gillislee is averaging 14.3 touches and 3.4 yards per carry, and he has yet to see a single passing-game target. Whereas Blount cleared 70 total yards in 8-of-16 games last season, Gillislee has opened the season with zero games of 70 yards. He’s an entirely touchdown-or-bust play against the run-tough Bucs. … Gillislee was essentially vultured by Dion Lewis in last week’s loss, as Lewis scored from eight yards out in the fourth quarter. Lewis finished with five touches on 20% of the snaps, however, and remains unplayable in fantasy this week.

Brady’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Rob Gronkowski 30; White and Chris Hogan 26; Brandin Cooks 24; Danny Amendola 19; Rex Burkhead 7; Dwayne Allen 6; Lewis and Phillip Dorsett 5. … With or without Brent Grimes (shoulder) in the lineup, the Bucs have been flamed by enemy wideouts. They’ve yielded a whopping eight usable wide receiver performances in only three games, namely to Stefon Diggs (8/173/2), Adam Thielen (5/98/0), Odell Beckham (7/90/0), Kendall Wright (7/69/0), Deonte Thompson (4/57/1), Sterling Shepard (5/54/0), Josh Bellamy (4/51/0), and Brandon Marshall (6/46/0). In terms of wide receiver-cornerback matchups, Cooks has the biggest edge because he runs 60% of his routes on struggling Bucs RCB Vernon Hargreaves’ side of the field. … Hogan has out-targeted Cooks, out-caught him 15 to 13, out-scored him 4 to 2, and drawn eight red-zone targets to Cooks’ zero. Hogan is going to attract more of stationary LCB Grimes’ coverage, but it shouldn’t deter fantasy owners from trusting him because Hogan runs nearly 70% of his routes away from left corners. Four games in, Hogan is the WR9 overall in PPR leagues and the WR3 in non-PPR. ... Amid whispers he’s lost a step, Gronkowski is on pace for the second-highest yardage total (1,272) of his career. Gronkowski is a mouth-watering Week 5 fantasy play against a Bucs defense that gave up an 8/73/1 receiving line to Giants tight ends last week and is missing MLB Kwon Alexander (hamstring), WLB Lavonte David (ankle), and SS T.J. Ward (hip). … Amendola is worth some PPR dart-throw consideration against Tampa Bay’s slot coverage, which has been generous to the aforementioned Thielen, Wright, and Shepard. Amendola has caught six balls in 2-of-3 appearances and ranks third on the Patriots in red-zone targets (3) despite missing one game.

Score Prediction: Patriots 35, Buccaneers 34



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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