Kickoff: Monday, November 23rd at 8:15 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Betting Odds: TB -3, 49 total via Oddsshark
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff (Sit, Low-end QB2)
Last week Jared Goff underperformed against a Seahawks pass defense that is second in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. That makes four straight games outside the top-12 and seven of his ten appearances this season. Goff is a matchup play, and even then he is a risk. This week he faces a strong defense in Tampa Bay, a team averaging just 222 passing yards a game in the last five. Goff is a low-end QB2 against the Bucs.
Darrell Henderson (Sit, Flex), Malcolm Brown (Sit, Flex), Cam Akers (Sit, Flex)
Before the season the Rams head coach Sean McVay stated that his approach this season to his backfield would be a committee. Typically by mid-season a player steps up and grabs the lead role. Yet, each week fantasy managers bang their heads against the wall trying to figure out this backfield. While we oped to have clarity coming out of the Rams bye week, we are left with more questions. As it stands today Darrell Henderson is the most dynamic rusher, Malcolm Brown is in on short-yardage, goal-line situations, and passing down and Cam Akers fills in at all roles but has not earned enough time in any particular role. All of this confusion is crashing into an awesome rush defense in Tampa Bay. The Bucs have not allowed a lead back more than 50 yards on the ground in five weeks. Each of the Rams backs can be left on your bench this week unless you are in a dire situation. However, don’t expect anything more than a flex performance.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Cooper Kupp (Start, WR2), Robert Woods (Start, WR3), Josh Reynolds (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Sit), Gerald Everett (Sit)
Much like the Rams approach to a committee backfield, the Rams have relied on a committee approach at receiver too. Cooper Kupp is a volume play, his two top-12 performances this season have both come in his two games when he earned double-digit targets. Otherwise, Kupp has struggled to finish even inside the weekly top-24. However, this week looks like a Kupp week, as the Bucs can be attacked in the slot. Expect Kupp to earn targets this week and squeak out a WR2 finish. Robert Woods is a tricker evaluation. For most of the year, Woods has been the better option as he has been highly efficient with his targets. However, in three of his last four games, he’s had less than 33 yards receiving. Woods may again be the focus of strong coverage this week on the outside, and he is a low-end WR3 play. As Woods has seen increased coverage, third receiver Josh Reynolds has led the team in targets over the last three weeks, earning at least eight looks in each game. Reynolds is a player who should be rostered in all formats down the stretch, even if this week he belongs on your bench. However, pay close attention to his role, if he continues to see targets even in a tough matchup he could be a sneaky player down the stretch.
At tight end, both Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are not consistent enough options for managers to trust against a Bucs team allowing just 8.5 points per week to the position. Higbee looks to be fully healthy now, which severely limits Everett’s upside. And with his lack of production Higbee cannot be trusted either. Both should be on your bench this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (Start, QB2)
Tom Brady bounced back in a big way last week, after a stinker in Week 9. Brady has been very consistent and a solid starting option, currently the QB9 in points per game. Surrounded by a plethora of offensive options, the sharp play would be to acquire Brady for your stretch run and reap the benefits of this supporting cast. This week, however, managers will need to be cautious. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the league, allowing less than 200 yards and a touchdown per game in recent weeks. They are good across the board, defending all positions. Managers will likely be in a position where Brady will need to start in 2QB and SuperFlex leagues, just don’t expect a top-12 week. A low-end QB2 performance should be expected, and perhaps allow managers to acquire Brady at a discount.
Ronald Jones (Start, RB2), Leonard Fournette (Start, RB3)
Control of the Buccaneers backfield has seemingly seesawed back and forth this season, with both Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette wrestling temporary control. However, if you look deeper you will see Jones has always had the upper hand, except for two games where he was pulled for blunders. However, last week after Jones fumbled, the team stuck with him and was rewarded. Jones will have a tough time navigating this tough Rams rush defense but Tampa will need to stick with the run to remain competitive. Jones is a solid RB2 play this week on expected volume alone. Fournette still holds value in this backfield, but only as a boom/bust play and not a consistent option. Lenny should see 8-10 opportunities and could break one but if you have better options look elsewhere this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Chris Godwin (Start, WR3), Mike Evans (Sit, Deep Flex), Antonio Brown (Start, WR3), Rob Gronkowski (Start, TE2)
Chris Godwin continues to get looks, he has seen at least six targets in each of his starts this season, but his 92 yards last week was a season-high. Godwin looks as good as ever but on a team filled with fantasy options, Godwin has taken a back seat. Still, Godwin has done enough to be the WR25 in points per game. This week he faces a tough Rams defense, one that is allowing just 16 points a game to wide receivers. Whoever draws shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey will be at a disadvantage but I expect him to shadow Mike Evans and not Godwin. That should be enough for Godwin to return solid value this week. Evans managers should be concerned this week. Evans production has already been down, and his value has been propped up by eight receiving touchdowns. Evans will likely be shadowed by Ramsey and that means his value this week falls off a cliff. Antonio Brown clearly has plenty left in the tank and he has quickly become a favorite Brady target. Last week Brown saw eight targets, and all signs point to continued production. That is as long as he is available to play. Brown should be treated as a low-end WR3 with upside and that includes this week. At tight end, Rob Gronkowski has rounded into form with four touchdowns in his last five games. Gronk is splitting time with other tight ends but he is seeing enough targets to remain a viable option at a tight end position that is desperate for consistent options. Gronk is top-10 in points per game and as long as he remains an option in the red-zone managers should feel good about starting him each week.
-Marc Salazar (@dingwog on Twitter)