Kickoff: Sunday, September 26th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: So Fi Stadium, Inglewood, California
Betting Odds: LAR +1, 55.5 Total on Vegas Insider
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (Start)
Hopefully, you aren’t letting the threat of the Rams defense prevent you from starting Tom Brady! There’s a reason the over/under has been set at 55.5, after all. Brady currently has a 91.8 PFF passing grade this season with a 9.1% big-time-throw rate, zero turnover-worthy plays, and has finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in consecutive weeks. That is simply absurd. Now, I wouldn’t expect them to have the ball as much – the Rams are a strong offense that is generally slow-paced – but Brady is still going to have plenty of chances to move the ball through the air. At this point, how can you bet against him or this offense?
Leonard Fournette (Start, Flex), Ronald Jones (Sit), Giovanni Bernard (Sit)
This backfield appeared to be heading towards being a puzzling three-player committee, though Leonard Fournette appears to be pulling away from the pack. He’s had 56% of the team’s rush attempts and has twice the target share of any other running back, good enough for 12.5 PPR expected fantasy points per game to start the year. That’s definitely worthy of being a Flex starter, whereas Jones and Bernard have quickly lost the pre-draft intrigue they may have had.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Chris Godwin (Start, WR2), Mike Evans (Start, WR2), Antonio Brown (Start, Flex), Rob Gronkowski (Start)
We can never figure out which member of the most talented receiving corps in football is going to produce in a given week, which can be frustrating. Nine receiving touchdowns have saved this from becoming a bigger issue, yet it’d be foolish to expect such gaudy offensive success moving forward. Godwin remains the top receiver in target share and thus the safest option, while Evans will continue to hog the end-zone targets. Brown, in spite of the hype of his massive Week 1 performance, ran a route on just 50% of the team’s passes in Week 2, and is being used as a pure deep threat as opposed to “one of the big three”. You could start him as a FLEX option, yet there are other wide receivers being valued lower than him that I prefer. Touchdown regression would also not be ideal for Rob Gronkowski, who ran a route on just 60% of the team’s passing plays and could be rotated more to keep him fresh for the stretch run of the season. For now, though, he’s a clear “start” at a position so thin when it comes to impact producers.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (Start)
The Matthew Stafford era is in full effect for the Rams, and we are already seeing the difference. Stafford has an 83.6 PFF passing grade this season with 10.7 yards/pass attempt, and has especially benefitted from head coach Sean McVay usage of play-action passes; he’s averaged 14.3 yards/attempt in those situations. His fantasy production has been limited by a lack of overall volume, but teams have historically passed at a greater frequency against the Bucs, paving the way for him to finish as a top-12 quarterback this week.
Sony Michel (Start, Flex*), Darrell Henderson (Sit*), Jake Funk (Sit)
This situation is quite unclear after Darrell Henderson left Week 2’s game with a rib injury, putting his Week 3 status in doubt. Even if he plays, he’ll likely be limited, and against a potent run defense that McVay is unlikely to test, any timeshare is not okay. Thus, you might want to avoid starting him this week, pending a drastically improved injury report. Assuming Henderson doesn’t play, though, Sony Michel could be worthy of a start in a FLEX spot. He assumed all of the rushing workload once Henderson went out with the injury, and would likely do the same if Henderson is inactive. Even against the Bucs, that’d mean you’d want to start him, given the high over/under total.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Cooper Kupp (Start, WR1), Robert Woods (Start, WR2), Van Jefferson (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Start)
If the Rams are going to pass the ball more in this game, that is great news for their receiving corps. Cooper Kupp certainly doesn’t need any help after eclipsing 20 PPR points in back-to-back games and leading the team with a 38% target share. Tampa Bay has historically struggled to defend receivers from the slot, and I’m comfortable projecting him as a top-10 option for this week. This could also be a nice performance for Robert Woods, who reverted back to a typical role in terms of routes run (97%), and target share (29%); don’t be overly concerned about the slow start when it comes to projecting him for this game. Meanwhile, Tyler Higbee has continued to have the role we all were hoping he’d have as the team’s sole tight end. Tampa wasn’t great against tight ends last year, so I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see Higbee have a big week. Man, this game is going to be so much fun to watch!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus