Thursday Night Football Breakdown- Buccaneers vs Bears
Published by Michael Garrity
Two of the leagues top-10 scoring defenses will be in the spotlight tonight as the Buccaneers will head to Chicago this week. Tonight will kick off the Buccaneers five prime-time games in a seven-week stretch.
Tampa Bay and Chicago have both started the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record, and both are in the top five in the AFC standings. The Buccaneers are fresh off a 17 point comeback against the Chargers, led by Tom Brady’s five touchdown performance. While Tampa Bay’s defense may be a strong point in this team, their offense has had some issues. When healthy, the Bucs offense is top ten in the league. The problem is, they aren’t healthy and haven’t been at a full 100% all season. Entering tonight, Brady will be without OJ Howard, Justin Watson, Chris Godwin, Lesean McCoy, Fournette is doubtful, and Mike Evans is questionable as is Scotty Miller. Brady will have to make due with what he has against a Chicago defense that is among the league’s best.
The Bears on the other hand are perfectly healthy. Chicago underwent a Quarterback change last week, as Foles moved into the starting role. A week after his miraculous comeback against Atlanta, Foles threw for 249 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against the Colts as they lost 19-11. Although the Colts defense is arguably the best in the league, the gap between Trubisky and Foles didn’t look that wide. They will look to move to 4-1 and challenge Green Bay for the top spot in the NFC North.
With the Buccaneers plethora of weapons either out or questionable, they will have to rely on their young but electric defense. This group ranks fourth in yards allowed, tied for ninth in points allowed, and ninth in red zone defense. With that being said, I think the Bears win this game. The health status in this Buccaneers offense is too concerning for me. Tampa Bay’s pass rush is fantastic, but the Bears offensive line is very good. They have a 5.3% sack rate, which ranks eight best in the league. Give me the Bears at home 21-17.
In this article, I will analyze all fantasy-relevant players on both teams, and tell you if they are worth a start or a sit for Week Five.
Tom Brady, TB- Other than a dud performance in Week two, Brady has been stellar. He’s posted three 20+ fantasy point games, and is currently the QB7 on the season. He ranks seventh in pass yards, ninth in pass completions, and fourth in passing touchdowns. Keep in mind, he hasn’t had a fully healthy offensive unit this season.
Despite not having Godwin, Howard, and most likely Fournette, Brady still has weapons to work with. Evans has been Brady’s go to guy in the absence of Godwin, Scotty Miller has been solid, and Gronkowski should have a larger role. Evans will need to complete a full pregame workout in order to be active, but will most likely play. Miller is also expected to play as his hip/groin has been bothering him this week. Other than Ronald Jones and Gronkowski, no one in the starting offense is fully healthy. The Bear are elite against Quarterbacks as well, they allow the second least of fantasy points per game (12.4). Starting Brady tonight is tough, but he’s been too good to sit. I would start him, just temper expectations. Don’t expect a 20+ point game out of him tonight.
Nick Foles, CHI- Last week was not his best performance. Against the number one defense against Quarterbacks (Colts), Foles mustered up a mere 11.8 fantasy points. By no means is that good enough for a starting Quarterback. To put that into perspective, he scored less than Dwyane Haskins, Brett Rypien, and Kirk Cousins. He finished as the QB24 on the week.
I might be a little harsh considering the matchup, but it’s not going to get any easier tonight. The Buccaneers have a fantastic pass rush led by Devin White, Shaquil Barrett, Lavonte David, and Jason Pierre-Paul. They allow the fourth least fantasy points per game to opposing Quarterbacks (16.5). If Foles doesn’t produce this game, the Bears could make a mid game switch back to Trubisky. Due to the uncertainty of the Quarterback situation in Chicago and the tough matchup, I won’t be starting Foles tonight.
Ronald Jones, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB- With Leonard Fournette status trending towards OUT tonight, insert Ronald Jones. Jones looked about as solid as I’ve ever seen him play last week. He rushed for 111 yards on 20 attempts, and added six catches for 17 yards. This wasn’t against a bad defense either, the Chargers are very good at defending the run. They rank second in rush touchdowns allowed per game (0.2), and allow the fifth least fantasy points per game (14.2) to opposing backs.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn also becomes an interesting play this week. Vaughn put up 10.6 fantasy points last week on three carries for four yards, and one receiving touchdown. Both Vaughn and Jones become startable this week considering their matchup and the absence of Fournette becoming likely. The Bears allow 115 rush yards per game, and nearly 20 fantasy points per game to backs. Jones can be started as an RB2 this week, and Vaughn can be considered a flex play in deeper leagues. He should only be used as an emergency option!
David Montgomery, CHI- Montgomery has been a disappointment for fantasy this season. He hasn’t rushed for more than 85 yards, and hasn’t scored a single rushing touchdown. With Tarik Cohen out for the season, Montgomery’s value has gone up. He posted a respectable 10.7 fantasy points against a stout Colts run defense.
Montgomery needs to do better, plain and simple. He has all the tools to succeed. He has a great offensive line that allows him to run for 4.6 YPC, and he has a backfield all to himself. He faces a Tampa defense tonight that poses no easy task, they allow a mere 65 yards per game to opposing backs (second best). Montgomery should be only considered as a flex play this week, nothing more.
Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, TB- In the absence of Chris Godwin last week, these two have stepped up for Brady. They both combined for 205 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 44.5 fantasy points. While both were stellar last week, neither of them left the game without an injury. Miller and Evans are both questionable tonight.
With that being said, Miller and Evans are both expected to play. Brady will lean on these two heavily as he is without the majority of his starting offense. The Bears allow 230 receiving yards per game, as well as the second most receiving touchdowns per game. If both of these guys are ready to go, Evans is automatically a mid-low end WR1, and Miller is a fine flex play.
Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller, CHI- Allen Robinson has been the only week to week starter in this entire offense so far this season. Since Foles has been at the helm, he’s benefited greatly from it. He’s had back to back 100+ yard receiving games, along with back to back touchdowns. Not only that, but he’s been owning the Bears target share. He had a 23.8% target share last week, which was highest on the team.
Darnell Mooney is coming off a season high five catches for 52 yards, and a 21.4% target share. He’s been much more reliable than Anthony Miller, who’s been quiet since his Week one breakout. Miller is one of the most inconsistent fantasy receivers in 2020. Here are his last four games:
Week One- 17.6
Week Two- 0
Week Three- 13
Week Four- 4.6
Considering Miller’s inconsistency, and Mooney entering tonight as Questionable, Robinson is the only reliable play tonight. He’s a WR1.
Rob Gronkowski, TB- Now that OJ Howard is out for the season, Gronkowski should have an expanded role in the offense. He’s had only nine receptions up to this point in the season, and has yet to catch a touchdown. Gronkowski’s role has been to block, and now that could change. Brady has trusted him for years in New England, and that certainly won’t change in Tampa Bay.
He’s definitely someone to watch out for tonight. He is the only 100% healthy receiving option Brady has tonight, so don’t be surprised if you see a breakout game from him. However, I’m still not comfortable with starting him. I need to see more work in the receiving game, as well as monitoring his role in the offense. He is still a bench stash for me.
Jimmy Graham, CHI- Everyone had high hopes for Graham after his solid two touchdown performance in Week Three. Foles made him look like he was 25 years old again. Graham returned to earth in Week four, as he had 7.3 fantasy points against the number one ranked defense against Tight Ends.
Graham is currently averaging six targets per game, which is a solid floor for a Tight End. He has become a startable player in fantasy football, so if you have no other options at the position, you can start him.
Buccaneers D/ST, Chicago, D/ST- Both of these defenses are startable. The Bears and Buccaneers defenses are top-15 or higher so far this season. Neither defense has allowed more than 30 points to opposing teams, so feel good about starting both of them. If you were to start one, I lean towards the Bears because of the lack of weapons Brady has to work with.
Ryan Succop, TB, Cairo Santos, CHI- The Buccaneers and Bears both have solid defenses, so I don’t think this will be a high scoring game at all. Neither of these kickers should be streamed this week. Go on your leagues Waiver Wire and find a kicker who has a better matchup. Ex. Joey Slye vs Atlanta, Rodrigo Blakenship vs Cleveland, and more.
Good luck to all of you this week!