Panthers. Bucs. Monday Night Football.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers secondary seemed to be holding up against the pass. That was before Matt Ryan and Julio Jones gave their secondary a viking funeral. After that plundering, it’s hard to have faith in their defensive backfield. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans are licking their chops while they watch last weeks game tape, and both are must-starts this week.
One Bucs player who is flying under the radar may be slot receiver Adam Humphries. In weeks 2 and 3 Humphries had a combined 15 catches for 167 yards. Then he ran into a brick wall in the form of the NFL’s premier slot cornerback, Chris Harris of the Denver Broncos. Expect a nice bounce back performance against Robert McClain. (graded a 66.1 on Pro Football Focus) He is an intriguing flex start against Carolina if your roster has a lot of bye week sits.
It’s not a big secret that Vincent Jackson has looked worse at receiver than Donald Trump’s PR staff. He isn’t even worth a roster spot. If you still own him, drop him and go pick up someone with some upside. Here is a good place to start.
The Panthers have not done a great job covering opposing tight ends. Teams’s tight ends are averaging 3.75 catches, 54.5 yards and a score against Carolina in 2016. For reference, those stats would be good enough to be the 3rd best tight end in PPR and the 2nd best in standard leagues. Cameron Brate, since letting Austin Seferian Jenkins go, has averaged 5 catches, 56.5 yards and a score. He is a solid TE1 play this week.
Despite their deficiencies defending the pass, the Panthers are actually one of the better teams defending the run. They only cede 90.2 yards per game (10th best in the NFL) and 3.5 yards per carry. (6th best in the NFL) With Doug Martin out for another week, Charles Sims will again get the start. The former West Virginia Mountaineer didn’t look great against Denver. (although nobody usually does) With a matchup looming against Luke Kuechly and company, I wouldn’t consider him anything better than an average PPR flex start this week. If you must start him, hope he racks up some good reception numbers.
Players to start for the Buccaneers:
- Jameis Winston
- Mike Evans
- Charles Sims (PPR Flex)
- Cameron Brate
- Adam Humphris (Flex)
Players to sit for the Buccaneers:
- Vincent Jackson
- After a poor performance from Charles Sims against Denver, will Tampa Bay incorporate Jacquizz Rodgers more this week?
- Will Jameis/Evans ignite for a monster game this week?
The Bucs are a team that many experts were high on due to their talent in all phases of the game. Against the run, this team has lived up to expectations. With Standout tackle Gerald McCoy along with linebackers Levonte David and Kwon Alexander, Tampa Bay has stifled opponents attempts to get a ground game going. Their yards per carry against average is an outstanding 3.27 through 4 games. (4th best in the NFL) This includes a matchup with arguably the NFL’s best running back, David Johnson. Johnson was held to just 45 yards on 12 carries despite his great day in the receiving game.
David Johnson wasn’t the only back with a good receiving game vs. The Bucs as Tevin Coleman also had a 90+ yard performance through the air. If Jonathan Stewart can’t play Monday, Fozzy Whittaker would be a sneaky flex play coming off a 9 catch, 86 yard performance vs. Atlanta. Due to the solid job he has done in JStew’s absence, he may even have earned stand-alone value as the receiving back in Carolina regardless of who plays on early downs.
Whether Jonathan Stewart or Cameron Artis-Payne get the start, you shouldn’t start either player. With Derek Anderson starting, the Bucs will have added incentive to plug the run first and make Anderson beat them.
As good as Tampa Bay has been defending the run, they have not been nearly as good against the pass. Anderson is one of the better backup QBs in the league, and if he plays he may even be worth a streaming look. The problem is that Cam Newton has not been ruled out thus far despite still being in the league’s concussion protocol. If Newton is made available before Sunday’s games, then he should get the start. If that is a game-time decision however, it would be a lot more difficult to make that decision unless you have Derek Anderson or Jameis Winston as a backup. The reason being the Panthers vs. Bucs game is the Monday night game, and you can’t plug in a Sunday starter if Newton is out last minute. Safe play is to find a safe streaming option or a backup with a good matchup.
Kelvin Benjamin is a WR2 pretty much any week he doesn’t play the Broncos, and the Buccaneers are no exception. He will be covered by rookie corner Vernon Hargreaves for much of the game this week. Benjamin is one of the better bets to score a touchdown on a weekly basis, and the Panthers have put great trust in him so far. Set it and forget it. No other Panthers receiver is worth rostering at this point.
If you are asking whether to start or sit Greg Olsen, the answer is to start him, regardless of matchup. He hasn’t caught less than 5 balls or gained less than 64 yards in a game this year giving you a solid floor. He has as high of a weekly ceiling as any tight end in football.
Players to start for the Panthers:
- Fozzy Whittaker (Flex)
- Panthers QB
- Kelvin Benjamin
- Greg Olsen
Players to sit for the Panthers:
- Cameron Artis-Payne
- Jonathan Stewart
- Will the offseason upgrades to the Buc’s secondary eventually start to show?
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I currently reside in Denver, Colorado. I am from Philly so I am a diehard Eagles fan. When I am not writing about fantasy football, I am probably skiing, hiking, rock climbing, or playing hockey.