There were quite a few storylines heading into this week’s Thursday night’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears. This was the first time Nick Foles and Tom Brady faced each other since Super Bowl LII in 2017 and both QBs are playing for different teams. Tom Brady had won seven of his last TNF appearances while Foles had not won as a starter since 2018 when the Eagles faced none other than the Bears in their wild card matchup.
But, before we get into the game, there are developing stories to discuss regarding rescheduled games and COVID-19.
Bear with me. This gets confusing.
Last week, we had to deal with the first postponed matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers when a rash of Titans players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. At the time, it seemed to be part of the inevitable process of dealing with an unpredictable and highly contagious illness.
However, it has come to light that many of the Titans players allegedly shrugged off orders to not hold any in-person activities after several members tested positive for COVID. A group of players were said to have trained together outside of the Titans facilities despite the mandate. A massive spread of the virus has ensued from active roster players, practice squad backups, and the staff, which has resulted in a total of 24 people becoming infected. This includes 14 players like WR Corey Davis and 10 staff personnel. The latest tests came back positive Thursday morning and an investigation of the Titans' culpability is ongoing. More on the Titans in just a moment.
Patriots’ QB Cam Newton was also sidelined with a positive COVID result, albeit asymptomatic, and missed Week 4. In an attempt to limit exposure to the virus, the Patriots took two different planes to their road game against the Chiefs. One was the close-contact-with-Newton plane and the other was the not-so-close-contact-with-Newton plane. Elite corner Stephon Gilmore, traveling with Newton, exchanged pleasantries with QB Patrick Mahomes at the end of their game. Gilmore then tested positive and the scene of Mahomes and him face-to-face blared all over sports channels. None of the Chiefs players, including Mahomes, have tested positive, but the incubation period of this virus is still unknown. The Chiefs were scheduled to play the Bills next Thursday in Week 6. More on that in a moment.
Back to the Titans. Tennessee has already burned a bye week. Their Week 5 opponent, the Buffalo Bills, have a Thursday night game in Week 6 against the Chiefs. That would mean a delayed Titans-Bills game played either Monday or Tuesday would be an impossibility with only a few days for the Bills to rest before their Thursday matchup.
However, the league made an interesting schedule change. The Titans and the Bills are now scheduled for this Tuesday, October 13. The Bills' Week 6 matchup with the Chiefs will be moved from Thursday, October 15 to Sunday, October 17. This gives more time for accurate test results to come in for the Chiefs and rest time for the Bills.
It’s imperative to keep an eye on any further positive results from the Titans. That will put any Week 5 matchup for Tennessee in serious doubt. With broken protocols and the possibility of being unable to roster 53 men, the Titans may be forced to forfeit.
Almost done. For now. Since Gilmore and Newton both have positive COVID tests, the Patriots' game has also been rescheduled from Sunday, October 11, to Monday, October 12 at 5:00 pm EST. No more Patriots players have tested positive so far, so their matchup against the Denver Broncos is likely to be played as scheduled.
Below is the cliff’s notes version.
Remember, these games are contingent upon no further positive tests. Since the Titans play on Tuesday now, fantasy GMs have some very difficult decisions to make prior to Sunday’s and Monday’s games. Do you keep any Titans or Bills players in your starting lineup and risk another postponement or forfeit? Or, is playing it safe a better alternative? Either way, some heavy-hitting fantasy players are in question including QBs Josh Allen and Ryan Tannehill, RBs Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, and Phillip Lindsay, WRs Stefon Diggs, John Brown, A.J. Brown and TE Jonnu Smith ... just to name a few. Pivoting away from these players will likely lead to starting players with less fantasy production.
Welcome to 2020. This is only Week 5.
Editor’s Note: Unlock the brand new League Sync! Keep track of all your Yahoo! teams in one place and use our Trade Analyzer, Free Agent Finder, Lineup Adviser and custom projections to make all the right roster decisions! Get all of our Season Tools, League Sync AND DFS Tools for as low as $7.99/month!
Did the Bears Win or Did the Buccaneers Lose?
This game wasn’t exactly pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly for Tampa Bay from a plethora of penalties on the Buccaneers’ offensive line, to QB Tom Brady screaming on the sideline, to losing track of downs and losing the game. The Buccaneers were allergic to the end zone with WR Mike Evans scoring the only touchdown while kicker Ryan Succop kicked four field goals.
Although QB Nick Foles did lead the Bears to victory, the journey there sputtered and was riddled with errant throws and incompletions. There was one throw in the first half that was way off the mark to rookie WR Darnell Mooney and another that was at least five yards short of WR Allen Robinson. Luckily, the latter play drew a defensive pass interference call and the Bears were given a fresh set of downs that led to a field goal. Those weren’t the only bad throws. Foles was overthrowing or underthrowing his receivers while under pressure from the Buccaneers' front seven.
The other Bears players didn’t look much better. Chicago was scoreless until the end of the first half when RB David Montgomery rushed in a touchdown with 1:48 left to play. TE Jimmy Graham hauled in an incredible one-handed touchdown pass to bring the score to 13-14 in favor of the Bears heading into halftime.
Both Tampa Bay and Chicago were held to field goals, two for each team, for the duration of the game.
It’s really a testament to the defenses on both sides of the ball. Brady had Khalil Mack in his face the whole game, causing Brady to roll his eyes after being sacked while wearing a martyred look of, “You again?” on his face.
Brady was clearly in need of healthy pass-catchers while Foles was just off on a majority of his throws. In fact, Foles’ first drive of the game resulted in an interception that led to the Bucs' only touchdown to Evans.
Despite the brutal showing for both quarterbacks, it’s hard to pass harsh judgment on either just yet. This is only Foles’ second start with the Bears and his first win. For Brady, it’s his fifth game on his second team in 20 years with most of the starters hurt. Either way, both QBs need to solidify some kind of chemistry with their respective teams if they have playoff hopes in the future.
The biggest fantasy winners for the Bears were Robinson and Graham. Although Robinson didn’t score a touchdown, he did see a season-high 16 targets and caught 10 of them for 90 yards and scored 19 points in PPR. Five of those receptions were clutch third down conversions and Foles looked in his direction on nearly every play. Graham hauled in three receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown, finishing with 12.3 points. He has scored a touchdown in two out of the three games with Foles at QB.
David Montgomery had a decent showing with 18.9 points. He rushed 10 times for 29 yards and a touchdown, but he was heavily involved in the passing game with eight targets, seven receptions, and 30 yards. His targets have doubled since Foles took over at quarterback and he is a solid RB2/Flex option in PPR scoring formats moving forward.
For Tampa Bay, Evans continues to produce, even while he’s hurt and at the center of a defense’s attention. He saw nine targets with five receptions, 41 yards, and a touchdown, finishing with 15 points. He would have been disappointing for fantasy without a score, but he has found the end zone at least once in every game so far in 2020.
We saw a new name pop up on the fantasy radar for the Buccaneers in WR Tyler Johnson. With so many pieces missing on offense, Brady had to look to someone besides Evans. Johnson had four receptions on six targets for 61 yards. If Tampa continues to struggle with injuries, Johnson could be an add in deeper formats or as a spot start in a desperate situation.
RB Ronald Jones stepped up admirably with every other running back hurt. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn was his counterpart and only other healthy back until he took a big hit in the first half that kept him limited the rest of the game. Leonard Fournette was activated for this game in an emergency situation only but did not see any action, despite the injuries.
It’s sad, but tight end favorite, Rob Gronkowski, is what HC Bruce Arians says he is … a blocking tight end. He did see a few targets and receptions, but he looked slow and winded after each play. With TE O.J. Howard out for the season with an Achilles injury, Cameron Brate and Tanner Hudson also got involved, but Brate may be the only one rosterable among the group. He caught five receptions on six targets for 44 yards and finished with a healthy 9.4 points.
I am going to stay far, far away from Brady and Foles in the foreseeable future. When the Buccaneers get their receiving corps back, Brady can be a streamable option. However, Foles is too risky even with a healthy squad to start him with any confidence.
Injury Updates and Quick Hits
Titans’ WR A.J. Brown was listed as questionable with his lingering knee injury although they didn’t practice due to the COVID outbreak. … Bengals’ RB Joe Mixon was listed on the injury report with a surprise shin injury. … Falcons’ WRs Calvin Ridley was limited in practice and Julio Jones was to do individual drills but missed practice entirely … Jets’ QB Sam Darnold is ruled out for Week 5 with a shoulder injury sustained last week. Joe Flacco was named the starting QB. RB Le’Veon Bell could play in Week 5 coming off of IR from a hamstring injury. … Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson missed practice again Thursday with a knee injury. TE Mark Andrews was added to the injury report Thursday with a thigh issue. … Broncos’ QB Drew Lock got in a limited practice and RB Phillip Lindsay is aiming for a Week 5 start against the Jets. … Saints’ WR Michael Thomas was limited at practice. … Browns’ WR Odell Beckham Jr. was limited in practice with a toe injury. … Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman was limited in practice with a knee injury. … Washington named QB Kyle Allen starter and Alex Smith as backup. Dwayne Haskins was demoted to third-string.