Kickoff: Sunday, October 4th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Betting Odds: TB -7, 43.5 Total via Oddsshark
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Sit)
Justin Herbert has performed admirably after being thrust into the starting job right before his first game. He has thrown for 300 yards in his first two NFL starts and his CPOE (competition percentage over expectation) is 4.2. You can’t ask for much more from a rookie QB, but he is still a sit this week. Tampa has been the second-best defense in the NFL and third-best passing defense by DVOA (Per Football Outsiders). We do not want to start rookies in these situations.
Austin Ekeler (Start, RB2), Josh Kelley (Sit)
Herbert’s biggest impact on fantasy has been the bump to the Chargers’ skill position players, most notably Austin Ekeler. Week 1 with Tyrod Taylor, Ekeler only saw one target and the offense as a whole struggled to move the ball on a bad Bengals defense. Herbert has opened up the offense a bit and Ekeler has 15 targets in two games. If you have Ekeler, you drafted him for those targets and it is reassuring to see them with Herbert. This game sets up well for Ekeler with the Chargers likely to be trailing the Buccaneers for most of it but I have Ekeler as an RB2 due to the strength of the Buccaneers’ defense. On the flip side, that means it is a bad week for Josh Kelley. Kelley needs rushing volume or a touchdown to be fantasy relevant and the Buccaneers are the fifth-best rushing defense by DVOA. That means you’d be hoping for a touchdown this week. I would go with a different option this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (Start, WR1), Mike Williams (Sit), Hunter Henry (Start, TE1)
Keenan Allen also saw a boost with Herbert, jumping from eight targets Week 1 to 10 and 19 targets the next two weeks. Allen is now second in the NFL in targets. He is also 12th in the NFL in routes run. The concerns for Allen this offseason were based on a Taylor-led offense, and those are all but gone now. Allen also should benefit from Mike Williams‘ injury. Currently, Williams is questionable with a hamstring injury. But even if he plays, he is a sit. Hunter Henry has had at least five catches and seven targets in each game this season. He is tied for sixth in routes run at the TE position. He is a solid floor option and can be should each week in another year of TE wasteland.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (Sit)
Tom Brady has been serviceable for you so far this season. He has a 1.6 COPE, which means he’s playing a bit better than expected. But now he faces his toughest defense yet. The Chargers rank third in pressure rate in the NFL and can manage that without having to blitz much. You saw what they were able to do against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs two weeks ago. I would be sitting Brady this week if you have a suitable bench or streaming option available.
Ronald Jones (Start, Flex), Leonard Fournette (Sit), LeSean McCoy (Sit)
This backfield has been difficult to track each week. Ranking Ronald Jones as a flex feels a bit like chasing but we do not any information if there is going to be another change. Week 2 saw Leonard Fournette out carried and rushed Jones, but then last week it flipped back to Jones’ favor. I wouldn’t want to start Jones unless I had to, but this offense should be running the ball with a lead so there will likely be volume for someone and he’s the best bet right now. LeSean McCoy has been purely a pass-catching back and shouldn’t be rostered barring an injury to one of the other backs.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Evans (Start, WR1), Scotty Miller (Sit, Deep Flex), Rob Gronkowski (Sit)
Mike Evans has had quite the odd start to the season. He is on pace for 53 catches, 554 yards, and 21 touchdowns. That kind of usage won’t continue, starting this week. Without Chris Godwin, Brady will need to have Evans involved more between the 20s (still 17th in routes run though) and not just in the red-zone. Though his red-zone usage has been elite for a WR. He should be locked in every week. Scotty Miller is a solid deeper play option if you need to lock in some targets/usage but I wouldn’t expect a breakout game this week against the Chargers. Rob Gronkowski has been a disappointment as you likely drafted him as a top 12 option. He is only 28th in routes run for TEs, which is concerning. Godwin’s injury should help him a bit but you should be moving on from Gronk.
-Frank Costanzo (@FrankQBList on Twitter, Zzzonked92 on Reddit)