Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Teddy vs. Tom. Two guys trying to lead their teams with different expectations placed on both. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week had a tough matchup against the New Orleans Saints and came up short. They didn’t want to dig themselves into an 0-2 hole against a Carolina Panthers team who many pegged to not make the playoffs. Did they win the game? Oh, they did more than just that. Also thanks to QB List’s Ben Brown for posting a TON of gifs I will be embedding in this recap.
Teddy Bridgewater: 33/42, 367 yards, 2 INTs
Oof. Not a great start to the game by Teddy Bridgewater, as he threw for an interception, then got stripped towards the end of the quarter before even throwing five passes. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass-rush was all over him all day, pressuring him into bad throws and mistakes. He showed a good connection with Robby Anderson (much like last week) targeting him multiple times, including getting him some red-zone looks. Going into the half, Bridgewater had only attempted 15 passes, which isn’t going to cut it down 21-0. He would go on to throw a lot more in the 2nd half, but it was all for naught. His 2nd interception of the game would kill their potentially game-tying drive and put the momentum back into Tampa’s hands. He scrambled A LOT and it’s gonna be hard for him to have fantasy relevancy with his O-Line letting him get pressured so often.
Christian McCaffrey: 18 attempts, 59 yards, 2 TDs | 4 receptions, 29 yards
Mike Davis: 1 attempt, 1 yard | 8 receptions, 74 yards
When Christian McCaffrey is good, the Carolina Panthers offense can be good. It’s sad that CAN is the word I have to use, as he’s been most of the team’s offense for the better part of the last year. He just could not get it going inside against the deadly Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ interior defense. They held him to short gains multiple times, as he couldn’t get any outside rushing chances and was stuffed down the middle. He would convert on two touchdowns, one a 1-yard touchdown (that was a little odd) and a clever pitch play to score his 2nd (in which he might have gotten hurt). The good thing about CMC is that he’s going to get so much work and more than likely score AT LEAST once, so he’ll never truly disappoint. But this week it wasn’t the explosive McCaffrey we’re used to. Mike Davis is obviously the backup and only got one carry, with it being on a 3rd and two. Alrighty then, Joe Brady. He did see a bit of work in the passing game late and had a good catch and run, slipping by Devon White (who had a missed tackle). It must be said that after the 2nd CMC touchdown, he wouldn’t see the field again, as he was shown getting his ankle re-taped then trying to walk on it later on. If he’s out, Davis could be a waiver-wire must grab, as they showed they’re going to use their back in the running/passing game no matter who it is.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
DJ Moore: 8 receptions, 120 yards
Robbie Anderson: 9 receptions, 109 yards
Curtis Samuel: 2 receptions, 14 yards | 4 attempts, 26 yards
DJ Moore was quiet the first three-quarters of the game, as it seemed he was doing a mediocre job of creating separation. He was still seeing targets early, which was very encouraging, and later on would show up as the WR1. You can’t complain with 120 yards even if he’s never going to score a touchdown. Boringly good is becoming the Moore standard, which I’ll always take. I personally thought Robbie Anderson had the more explosive and eye-catching game. He had one catch where he was WIDE open and that’s a gimme, but seemed to always be able to slip away from his defender. He’s becoming Teddy Bridgewater’s 2nd receiving option and he’s making the best of his situation. Curtis Samuel was actually used more on the ground than the passing game as a change-of-pace back and it worked on a couple of plays. He was able to slip outside for a 14-yard gain and looked decent doing it. He’s clearly the 4th option in the passing game behind the two WRs and CMC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady: 23/35, 217 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
While the counting stats weren’t there for vintage Tom Brady, I thought he looked a lot better than week 1 against the New Orleans Saints. He had way time to work in the pocket and it showed, including a beautiful pump-fake throw to Mike Evans. He had some bad luck, as both Scott Miller and LeSean McCoy dropped EASY touchdown passes in the end-zone (to which Brady was NOT happy). An errant throw resulted in the interception for a large return but otherwise didn’t he have too many bad throws. Evans was the receiver he targeted the most and they had a real good connection. All in all, it wasn’t a superb fantasy start for Brady but he was real-life good. His fantasy day looks A LOT better if those two drops are touchdowns.
Leonard Fournette: 12 attempts, 103 yards, 2 TDs | 4 receptions, 13 yards | 26 snaps
Ronald Jones: 7 attempts, 23 yards | 2 receptions, 4 yards | 21 snaps
LeSean McCoy: 1 attempt, -5 yards | 5 receptions, 26 yards | 11 snaps
This is Leonard Fournette‘s backfield now. It seemed like it was going to be a split backfield to begin the game, as Ronald Jones had six touches to Fournette’s five. Jones would end up fumbling a handoff early in the 2nd and it then became the Fournette Show (as shown in the Next Gen Stats tweet below). Fournette got a ton of the work afterwards, scoring the first goal-line opportunity he got for his first touchdown. In the 2nd half, he would rip off a long run of 25 yards, finding a hole. In the next quarter, he would score his 2nd touchdown off a long 46-yard run. He seemed to be able to find the holes better than Jones (and the O-Line was great for him). LeSean McCoy would strictly work as the passing downs back and seemed to be somewhat thriving in that role. As mentioned above, he would end up dropping that touchdown pass and earlier had another bad drop he should have had. Tom Brady won’t put up with drops like that, so don’t be surprised if his role shrinks. Going forward I trust Fournette A LOT more, as he genuinely looked like the better back and seemed to have earned the trust of Brady/Bruce Arians.
After a fumbled handoff exchange between Tom Brady and Ronald Jones in the 2nd quarter, Fournette assumed a bigger role in the offense:
➤ Jones 48%, Fournette 28%
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 20, 2020
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Mike Evans: 7 receptions, 104 yards, 1 TD
Justin Watson: 2 receptions, 48 yards
Scott Miller: 2 receptions, 11 yards
O.J. Howard: 1 reception, 11 yards
Rob Gronkowski: 0 receptions
Mike Evans, have yourself a day. After many worried just how good his hamstrings were, he seemed to have more pep in his step than in Week 1. He was Tom Brady’s favourite target and on the pump-fake throw I mentioned above he had a good stutter step to bait the defender into thinking he was going into the end-zone. He was able to create space for his 50-yard catch and seems to show us that as long as he’s healthy(ish), he’s a must-start. Justin Watson was tied with O.J. Howard and Scott Miller with three receptions. It was a nifty flea-flicker play that had him WIDE open downfield for Tom Brady. O.J. Howard was only able to bring one of the three receptions down and he will continue to not get targets as long as he’s not catching them. Scott Miller seemed to be poised for a big role, catching Brady’s first pass of the game and getting the first red-zone opportunity. Unfortunately for him, he whiffed on the chance and missed the catch, letting it slip right through his hands. He’s interesting as the third guy once Chris Godwin is back, but he needs to catch those. I put Rob Gronkowski above just to show everyone that he’s not the same Gronk. He looked slow (like, really slow) and his one target he couldn’t bring down. He did end up pouncing on an on-side kick that could have become dangerous if not snagged, so uh, kudos to him for that. He’s sadly probably droppable.
So, I like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a lot more for fantasy purposes going forward. The Carolina Panthers O-Line is going to be a bigger burden on Teddy Bridgewater than many thought and limit the upside the wide-receivers may have. D.J. Moore might have to catch-and-run a billion yards to score any touchdowns this year. You can follow me on twitter (@JamieSayerPL) and ask me questions anytime on Reddit (u/jamiesayer).