Kickoff: Thursday, October 8th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Betting Odds: TB -5.5, 44 total via Oddsshark
Network: AMAZON, FOX, NFLN
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (Start, QB2)
Father Time? Tom Brady dialed it back some last week against the Chargers. Despite the pick-six, Brady completed 30 of 46 attempts for 369 yards and five touchdowns. Through four games, he’s posted better numbers in pass yards (1,122), passing TD’s (11) & QBR (99.4) than he has in the past two seasons; and this is with receiver injuries. The fantasy stats have been there, but Brady faces a tougher task on a short week against a Bears defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to the quarterback this season.
Ronald Jones II (Start, RB2), Leonard Fournette (Sit), LeSean McCoy (Sit), Ke’ Shawn Vaughn (Sit)
Ronald Jones II is the only Tampa back right now that you can trust; and that’s because of injuries around him. RoJo had a day against LA, totaling 111 yards on 20 carries and six receptions for 17 yards on nine targets. With Leonard Fournette still nursing an ankle injury, he’s considered doubtful. LeSean McCoy suffered an ankle injury of his own against the Chargers. He’s been ruled out for TNF. Rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn had a poor summer and saw his first carries on his career last week. He’s not yet worthy of a start, but keep your eyes on the volume he may see as RoJo’s backup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Evans (Start, WR1), Scotty Miller (Start, FLEX), Justin Watson (Sit), Rob Gronkowski (Start, TE2), Cameron Brate (Sit)
Chris Godwin has already been ruled out for Thursday night. This sets up for another blowup game for Mike Evans, who avoided a major ankle injury against Los Angeles. He didn’t practice on Tuesday, but it could be because of the short week. Brady needs to throw the ball to someone, and Evans should see his target share increase from the eight he saw against the Chargers. Scotty Miller also didn’t practice on Tuesday with a hip and groin injury, but surely the Bucs are taking it easy with all their (relatively) healthy receivers. Justin Watson (chest) has already been ruled out.
O.J. Howard suffered the worst injury of them all, as he tore his Achilles suddenly in last week’s game. His 2020 is over, and this may just open the door for Rob Gronkowski to finally get his season going. The Bears have given up the 15th most fantasy points to the tight end position this year thus far. Gronk has not found the end zone to date, but this seems like a prime spot for him too. Cameron Brate should see an uptick in targets now as well, but I personally wouldn’t rush to start him so soon this week.
Nick Foles (Sit)
Nick Foles’ first start for Chicago was forgettable last week, as the Bears suffered their first loss of the season. Foles did not throw a touchdown until late in the 4th quarter and certainly did not have an encore performance to his game-winner against the Colts the week prior. I’m in no rush to consider Foles a streaming option, especially this week against a Tampa defense that has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the quarterback this season.
David Montgomery (Start, RB2)
With Tarik Cohen no longer in the picture this season, this is truly David Montgomery’s backfield, which should make him a strong volume-based back to own the rest of the season. Last week against the Colts, he only saw 10 carries, but did catch three passes on six receptions; an encouraging sign for PPR formats. The Buccaneers are fairly stout against the run, but you can start Montgomery and should expect RB2 results.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Allen Robinson (Start, WR2), Anthony Miller (Sit), Darnell Mooney (Sit), Jimmy Graham (Start, TE2)
From a fantasy perspective, only Allen Robinson has been a key contributor to the Bears receiving core. Yes, Anthony Miller may have two touchdowns to his name, but his snaps and target share are behind Darnell Mooney through four games. I’m not comfortable starting either of these two on a short-week, but A-Rob gets my vote for sure. He’s seen double-digit targets in the past two games (13 and 10, respectively), eclipsing 100 yards and scoring in both contests. He’s surely the most trusted receiver for Foles. It’s worth noting the Buccaneers defense has given up the 12th fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
The lone tight end worth mentioning is Jimmy Graham, who you could consider starting in a pinch this week. A lot of his target share has been seen in the red zone, which bodes well for his scoring potential as a touchdown-dependent TE2.