As good as my Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on paper, this year, more-so than years past, is one of the true terrible matchups for them. The Bucs simply don’t match up well against the Saints, as the new-look Greg Schiano defense brings a heavy emphasis on stopping the run. The Saints simply don’t run the ball.
Believe it or not though, the Bucs rank #13 in pass defense in DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average). That ranking will be heavily put to the test against the elite pass offense of the Saints. To make matters worse, CB Aqib Talib was recently suspended for 4 games for using Adderall. That means CB E.J. Biggers will be starting in place of Talib, and will put #2 CB Eric Wright out of position against the opposing team’s #1 WR. Last year with Detroit, Wright was targeted a team high 21.4% of the time with only a 52.6% Success Rate. A further note on Wright, is that he did rank fairly well in Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt with only 7.2 yds. However, that makes sense when you consider Wright’s skill set which is speed, speed and more speed.
Key Matchup: Tampa Bay CB Eric Wright vs. Saints WR Marques Colston or Devery Henderson
This matchup is specifically intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, if Eric Wright stays on #2 WR Devery Henderson, that’s a perfect matchup for him, as it allows him to match his speed with the speed of Henderson, thus nullifying or at least slowing down the Saints down-field passing game. However, if that matchup occurs, that would put E.J. Biggers on #1 WR Marques Colston, which signals big problems. FS Ronde Barber will probably be forced to help out Biggers on Colston, because SS Mark Barron will have his hands full with Jimmy Graham all game long.
The above scenario could make for a very productive day for Saints slot WR Lance Moore.
Key Matchup: Tampa Bay Linebackers and backup Secondary vs. Saints WR Lance Moore
It’s possible the Bucs play with 5 DB’s most of the game, using either FS/SS Ahmad Black or CB Myron Lewis. In this scenario, strong-side linebacker Quincy Black would be the most likely recipient of some rest on the sideline. It’s also noteworthy that the Bucs are ranked 22nd in DVOA against “other WR” (per Football Outsiders)
Play Call to watch for: Saints: HB Screen, 3 WR set, Lance Moore on right side of the field, with Sproles as a side-car to the right of Brees, Graham on the left side of the formation. You could switch the sides and put Moore and Sproles on the left and Graham on the right, but the important point is that this play will get the screen pass to the side that young stud WLB Lavonte David is NOT on. It should occur quite frequently in this game.
Other than Yards after the Catch for the Tampa Bay WR, the key for them on offense will be the offensive line vs. the Saints D-Line.
Key Matchup: Doug Martin vs. Saints LB in Blitz Pickup.
If the Saints get LB Jonathan Vilma back for this game it would give them not only a huge morale boost, but a substantial talent boost as well. Vilma, despite his age, is still one of the best LB in the game and a LB corps of David Hawthorne (out for today’s game though), Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma is quite formidable. Expect the Saints to blitz a lot which should cause Doug Martin owners in PPR leagues some issues if he’s forced to pass block a lot. If Martin can do at least a respectable job in pass protection, Freeman should have enough time to pick apart the weak Saints secondary.
No Significant Injuries
LB David Hawthorne- Hamstring- Out
TE Jimmy Graham- Ankle- Questionable/Doubtful
WR Lance Moore- Hamstring- Probable
Sit RB Darren Sproles in standard leagues – (Bucs are #9 in DVOA against the RB in pass coverage). Definite must start in PPR though
Start Saints WR Devery Henderson and Lance Moore
Start Bucs WR Mike Williams (#24 in my rankings) in all formats
Start Bucs QB Josh Freeman in 14-16 team leagues
Prediction: Since I’m a homer, I’ll take the Bucs 31-27
With so many great teams on bye this week, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver, San Diego (well, at least for fantasy purposes somewhat), I’ve decided to forgo my second game preview and add a generic start-em /sit-em for this week that encapsulates all the bad matchups, good matchups, and injuries that reveal extra playing time.
Bills @ Titans:
Start RB C.J. Spiller in all formats (#2 in my RB Rankings, ahead of Fred Jackson who is #17)
Once again, be careful with Tennessee receivers, despite the great matchup, it is almost to the point of a “Carolina RB situation”, except Kenny Britt who is a must-start when healthy.
Start Titans LB Akeem Ayers as Colin McCarthy is likely going to miss this game, and the Bills will run all over the Titans
Browns @ Colts:
Start QB Andrew Luck in all formats
Start Colts WR Donnie Avery in deeper leagues
Hard to trust Browns WR, but Josh Gordon is a pretty good start this week.
Start Browns RB Montario Hardesty at Flex this week, Richardson should yield at least 14 or so carries to him since he’s banged up.
Packers @ Rams:
Start RB Daryl Richardson if you need a flex option this week, he comes in at #26 in my RB Rankings
I have all Packers WR bunched up around the #20 range, none is a super safe play this week against a pretty strong Rams secondary, but Rodgers shut me up last week against Houston so…..
Start Rams CB Cortland Finnegan
Start Rams S Quentin Mikell
I’m not sold on Packers RB Alex Green just yet; #22 in my RB, which is a bit lower than my fellow colleagues
Cardinals @ Vikings:
Listen you’re not sitting Percy Harvin, but if there’s one team that Arizona will make sure they move Patrick Peterson everywhere on it’s the Gators former WR since Peterson faced him a few times in college. Food for thought
Sit Cardinals RB William Powell
Start Vikings WR Jerome Simpson (CB Greg Toler is doubtful)
Start Vikings CB Antoine Winfield in absolutely every format.
With Cardinals FS Kerry Rhodes out, Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph is a no-brainer start
Redskins @ Giants:
Start RB Alfred Morris as DT’s Rocky Benard and Chris Canty are both out this week, leaving them very thin at D-Line
On a tough week for bye’s it’s hard to sit Ahmad Bradshaw, but given that he’s banged up and highly likely to split time with Andre Brown against what is a pretty good Washington Run defense, I’d be weary starting either one. Go WR at flex if you can.
Start WRs Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss and in super deep leagues Aldrick Robinson
Start all Giants WR except Ramses Barden
Cowboys @ Panthers:
Start TE Greg Olsen
Sit WR Steve Smith
Start Panthers SS Charles Godfrey
Ravens @ Texans:
Start WR Torrey Smith
Start Ravens LB Jameel McClain in IDP leagues (filling in for Ray Lewis)
Ravens S Bernard Pollard is my #2 IDP DB this week, an obvious must-start
Start TE Owen Daniels in all formats
Start QB Matt Schaub
Sit Joe Flacco in 12 team or shallower
Start WR Anquan Boldin
Jaguars @ Raiders:
Start WR Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey
Start TE Brandon Meyers
Start WR Justin Blackmon in deep leagues
Jets @ Patriots:
Start WR’s Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill
Start QB Mark Sanchez in 2 QB leagues
Start RB Shonn Greene (#14 in my rankings compared to colleagues having him in the mid 20s)
Start all Patriots
Steelers @ Bengals:
Be careful with Steelers RB’s, I’m on record as saying I think Baron Batch will get more work than Jonathan Dwyer, but that’s pure speculation based on last week’s game vs. the Titans
Start Steelers TE Heath Miller
Start Bengals DE Michael Johnson
Start Andy Dalton in all leagues
Lions @ Bears:
Sit Matthew Stafford
Start CB’s Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman in all formats
Start Lions LB Stephen Tulloch
Start Michael Bush in standard leagues ONLY
Sit Jay Cutler (Better options)
Written by Josh Kay exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Send all your PPR questions to Josh on Twitter @JoshKay_Fantasy.