Kickoff: Sunday, November 8th at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Betting Odds: TB -4.5, 51.5 total via Oddsshark
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees (Sit, QB2)
For Drew Brees to be fantasy relevant this week, he needs a shootout. And that is a possibility as Brees once again eeked ahead of his opponent Tom Brady in the race for the lead for the most career touchdown passes (560) last week. The two greats will no doubt have that on their minds during this weekend’s matchup. What was noticeable was that Brees struggled mightily outdoors in Chicago in Week 8 (his first outdoor game of the year) so that will come into play again down in Tampa this week, despite the warmer climate. The other important factor is whether Michael Thomas returns. The superstar wideout has been notoriously absent from appearing in games after a training ground bust-up over two weeks ago. He has practiced in full this week. Brees has QB2 upside but there are better options out there this week.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1), Latavious Murray (Sit)
Alvin Kamara has firmly established himself as a top 3 running back alongside Dalvin Cook this season and, in the absence of Christian McCaffrey, he is on pace to smash the single-season receptions record for running backs (118, set by CMC last year). The Buccaneers rushing defense is an elite unit, allowing a measly 3.2 yards per attempt to backs this season. However, they have allowed the 3rd most receptions to backs (50) so far in 2020. Set and forget Kamara as an RB1 once more. Saying that, stay well away from Latavious Murray as a FLEX option.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (Start, WR1 if active), Tre’Quan Smith (Sit), Marquez Callaway (Sit), Emmanuel Sanders (Sit), Jared Cook (Start, TE1)
Where to start? It all depends on Michael Thomas and barring a setback all signs point to him starting against the Bucs. That’s good news for owners who last saw the star wideout in Week 1. Blimey! Behind Thomas, it is a rough bag of spanners. Tre’Quan Smith has disappointed on the stat sheet for 3 straight weeks and looks a low way removed from his Week 4, 2 TD production. Marquez Callaway and Emmanuel Sanders both missed out last week but are expected to play. One of those 3 receivers will likely hit against the Bucs, but there is no pattern to point out a favorite. Look elsewhere for clearer skies.
Jared Cook caught a touchdown pass for the 3rd straight game and now has 4 TDs in 6 games this season. He is a low TE1 option this week and his production is heavily red zone related.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady (Start, QB1)
Tom Brady goes into Week 9 as the fantasy QB5 in Yahoo! leagues after another multi passing-touchdown outing against the Giants. Brady faces a disappointing Saints defense, that has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs this season. They rank 20th in completion percentage allowed (66.7%) and 21st in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.5 yards) so far this year. When you consider that and then add the potential return of Chris Godwin alongside the possible debut of Antonio Brown, you can be pretty confident that Brady will once again be amongst the top-scoring fantasy QBs this week.
Ronald Jones (Start, RB2), Leonard Fournette (Start, FLEX)
An early Ronald Jones fumble against the Giants paved the way for Leonard Fournette to take control of the Buccaneers’ backfield on Monday night. Fournette outplayed Jones to the tune of an alarming 71% of the offensive snaps (51 snaps) compared to only 26% (17 snaps) for Jones. The former Jacksonville Jaguars back carried the rock 15 times for 52 yards, adding 19 yards on 3 catches. Jones, coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, put up a paltry 23 yards on 7 carries with 4 catches for 23 yards. The dreaded “hot hand” approach is all too real in Tampa, and that doesn’t sit well up against a Saints rush defense that is ranked 4th in rushing defense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) according to Football Outsiders. I would try to avoid this backfield for Week 9 but if that isn’t an option then Jones should still get the start and should be considered a low-RB2. Fournette is a risky FLEX option.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Evans (Start, WR2), Chris Godwin (Start, WR2 if active), Antonio Brown (Sit), Scotty Miller (Start, FLEX if Godwin is out), Jaydon Mickens (Sit), Rob Gronkowski (Start, TE1)
It wasn’t the mammoth fantasy output we were expecting from Mike Evans last week against a calamitous Giants secondary, however, he did nab a pass in the endzone to put up a healthy score (16.50 fantasy points). The Saints give up the 11th most fantasy points to wide receivers so even if Chris Godwin is active, Evans should have the opportunity to put up WR2 numbers once again. Bruce Arians has stated he won’t know until Friday whether Godwin will be good to go after recovering from his broken finger. Watch the injury report for that news. The wildcard factor is Antonio Brown, however. It is impossible to predict his impact and it is more likely that he will take attention away from Evans and Godwin – something that benefits them both more than Brown. I prefer Scotty Miller as a solid start in your FLEX this week if Godwin misses out – the 2019 6th round pick has really found a connection with Brady and you can see the veteran trusts the young deep threat.
Rob Gronkowski now has 3 straight games with a touchdown and the old groove is back. Have no qualms about starting him as your TE this week.
-Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)