You can find me on Twitter @delrayboston
It has got to be one of the most well publicized Football Games, outside of the Superbowl, in recent memory. What will happen when Tom Brady returns to Foxborough. So much has been said and written about this game, it’s tough to figure out what new take can be taken on it. Well here are a couple anecdotes I saw Patriots Owner Robert Kraft say this morning. First, starting about 10 Seconds before the Buccaneers take the field, Kraft says to watch the video screens. Hope we get a view on the broadcast. Next, if you didn’t know Tom Brady is only 62 yards away from the all time Passing record – and Kraft says they have something special planned for Tom should that record be broken.
But none of that matters for us DFS Players. What matters is, who do we play and is there strategy to be found that can help us to break out from the tournament pack and win some cash. So let me try and help you to do that…
It’s long been said that the Patriots’ key defensive strategy is to take away a team’s best weapon and force that team to change their game plan on the fly. The issue with this strategy tonight is that the Buccaneers’ best weapon is Tom Brady ($19,200 Captain, $12,800 Flex, $15,000 FD) and probably no one knows and understands Patriots defensive schemes more than the guy who practiced against them for 20+ years. Additionally the Pats are dealing with some notable defensive injuries up front most notably Linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Ja’Whaun Bentley both being listed as questionable as well as Defensive Back Kyle Duggar. Additionally the Pats could have a significant hole in the secondary with Corner JC Jackson also listed as questionable.
Given this information, while I am sure the Pats will be trying to get pressure on Brady it wouldn’t shock me that instead the focus will be to slow Brady’s weapons. They better pack a lunch. Sure Tom will be without Gronk, but he’ll have Antonio Brown ($10,500 Captain, $7,000 Flex, $9,000 FD) , Chris Godwin ($16,800 Captain, $11,200 Flex, $12,000 FD) and Mike Evans ($15,600 Captain, $10,400 Flex, $11,000 FD) ready to go. I will say, if the Pats are down JC Jackson in the secondary – I love Mike Evans tonight, I just don’t see anyone else in that secondary able to match up physically with Evans. Big Mike has seen his targets go up each week from 6 in Week 1 to 10 in Week 3. Even still if Jackson isn’t able to go I think Evans will be a focus by the Patriots Defense. I would also think that Antonio Brown will see a fair share of Jamal Adams who is a fine corner, but with Brown’s skill as a route runner, I think he has a plus matchup here as well. So that leaves Chris Godwin, who is a Brady favorite and often time red zone target. My strategy with the big 3 here is simple, mix and match. Multi-Entering using different pass catchers with Brady will have it’s advantages. It will be extremely difficult to fit all 3 on one lineup with Brady and I’m not convinced all 3 of these guys get enough to pay off their salaries. So I will be mixing and matching. Single Entry for me it’s Evans and Brown that are the priorities. The Pats are definitely missing Stefon Gilmore and tonight may be a big time prime time spotlight on that.
I think the Buc’s running game will go overlooked and if the Pats sell out to stop Brady through the air, I like the opportunity Leonard Fournette ($11,400 Captain, $7,600 Flex, $8,000 FD) and Ronald Jones ($3,000 Captain, $2,000 Flex, $7,500 FD) has tonight. Particularly with Fournette’s involvement in the passing game, I like adding Founette to my Stacks with Brady. RoJo should have his fair share of looks too, possibly some goal line work and with Gio Bernard inactive, I like the two headed Bucs running game to show up tonight. Also you can’t beat RoJo’s pricing on DK tonight. The Bucs running backs should be in your player pool tonight.
Also it’s tough to say that either of Tampa’s remaining Tight Ends will take the mantle of Gronk for the night, more than likely more targets will go to the recievers than anything, but I having a sprinking of Cameron Brate ($6,300 Captain, $4,200 Flex, $4,500 FD) and OJ Howard ($1,500 Captain, $1,000 Flex, $4,000 FD) in your lineups if you are multi-entering, is smart. Brate had a season high 5 targets last week and we are only a year removed from Brady praising Brate’s hands in training camp remember. The more athletic of the two is clearly Howard who also had a look last week. I kinda like a TE Touchdown tonight and if you are multi entering, again, have a sprinkling.
I like the Bucanneers Defense ($9,900 Captain, $6,600 Flex) tonight. I know they haven’t shown the form they did in the Superbowl, but this is still a Patriots team that is a “Work in Progress” and while they certainly have looked better than they did under Cam Newton, you are still talking about a rookie QB under center. I could easily see a scenario where with all of the hoopla, the Bucs D shows up to help support Brady in his return. It should be noted against another tough defense last week, Mac Jones threw 3 interceptions. I don’t mind using them in stacks with Brady, a pass catcher and Fournette or Jones. Additionally Kicker Ryan Succup ($5,700 Captain, $3,800 Flex, $8,500 FD) as always a DK play only for me (I can’t pay over 8K for a kicker over another player on FD) but still a guy I have in my player pool. Especially if the Patriots are able to get to Brady, kicks can count in tough prime time games.
Here’s the biggest thing to note as you consider rostering Patriots. The Buccaneers’ Secondary is to say the least, lacking. So much so they signed and are starting future hall of famer Richard Sherman who hasn’t played a snap of football since Week 16 last year. So if Mac Jones ($14,100 Captain, $9,400 Flex, $13,000 FD) can avoid the Bucaneers front 7 enough to air it out, he could find paydirt – often. Jones is averaging 35 attempts per game and 255 yards over 3 games this season. With the Buccaneers legendarily have a strong run defense, this could be Mac’s game to shine on Prime Time. So while I am not crazy about Damien Harris ($11,100 Captain, $7,400 Flex, $10,500), I am kinda high on Mac Jones.
The biggest loss since Brady, Edleman and Gronk hit the Patriots last week when long time pass catching running back James White went out with season ending injury. While there is a tendency in Season Long fantasy to scoop up a 2nd or 3rd string back, I think White’s absence in this game will only lead to more looks at the wide receivers from Jones. My favorite of this group tonight is Nelson Agholor ($8,400 Captain, $5,600 Flex, $8,500 FD) who was shadowed last week by the Saints’ Marshawn Lattimore but this week should have plenty of space to operate against the depleted Buccaneers’ secondary. He’ll operate as the Patriots #1 tonight and I see Agholor with a chance at a big game in Prime Time. I also like both Kendrick Bourne ($7,500 Captain, $5,000 Flex, $8,000 FD) and Jakobi Meyers ($12,600 Captain, $8,400 Flex, $10,000 FD) tonight as well. Bourne made headlines and highlight reels last week with his spectacular TD grab and for my money, Meyers will be the most likely beneficiary of James White’s targets at least for tonight. I love how cheap all of these guys are on DK and you can make a Stack with Mac Jones work easily with this pricing.
The wild card tonight is Patriots former #1 draft pick N’Keal Harry ($300 Captain, $200 Flex, $3,000 FD) who will be active tonight, activated off of the IR, in a move that occurred pretty close to White’s season ending announcement. The N’Keal Harry experiment hasn’t quite panned out yet and it does make me wonder if we see Harry line up in the White’s RB role on a few snaps on 3rd down. He’ll be the WR4 tonight, but I wouldn’t completely ignore him if you are mult-entering. He’s a cheap dart throw with upside, in my opinion, tonight.
I think the Patriots Tight Ends will be popular tonight. Jonuu Smith ($6,000 Captain, $4,000 Flex, $6,000 FD) and Hunter Henry ($6,900 Captain, $4,600 Flex, $7,000 FD) will face a Bucaneers Defense ranked 21st againt Tight Ends. Each man saw a season high 6 targets in Week 3 and each have had their targets and moments through the first 3 weeks. So while it isn’t that I am down on the Pats TEs, it is just that I like the Wide Recievers more. However, I do think one of these guys has a good game tonight it just isn’t clear which one. So like I said about Bucs’ recievers – mix and match if you are multi-entering. I do think that Henry’s involvement last week was very promising and it is possibly he and Mac Jones build on that this week against, again, a depleted Bucaneers’ secondary.
It’s been a long time rule of mine that I don’t play running backs against the Bucaneers. So I am not high on Damien Harris, despite his clear hold on the job for the Patriots. But that’s just me. I am interested in taking a dart throw on JJ Taylor ($1,800 Captain, $1,200 Flex, $5,500 FD). With James White going down, the running back depth chart moved up one… and the Patriots have made Rhamondre Stevenson a healthy scratch tonight. So this should be Taylor’s job to lose. Last week it was long time Patriot Brandon Bolden ($900 Captain, $600, $5,000 FD) and while it wouldn’t shock me if it is Bolden again tonight, I think last week was more to do with immediate availability after White’s injury than anything else. Bolden is a long time Special Teams specialist. It wouldn’t shock me at all if we see both of these guys tonight, but my guess is it will be Taylor taking most of the 3rd down snaps. Bolden as mentioned is already on the field a lot so he’ll also see some action at RB tonight so I’d keep these both these guys on your radar tonight. One of them will emerge as the James White comp, but tough to tell which one. Might be Flash Draft targets during the game to keep an eye out for.
As much as I like the Buccaneers Defense, believe it or not, I kinda like the Patriots Defense ($4,800 Captain, $3,200 Flex) too. Look, the Pats Defense is going to be looking to spoil the Brady Homecoming and Defend their turf. I love players with a chip on their shoulder. The ultimate spoiler on the Brady chalk would be a big defensive showing by the Pats so I will have some shares. I like them in stacks with Mac Jones and a Reciever or and JJ Taylor (or Branden Bolden).
I also prefer Nick Folk ($5,100 Captain, $3,400 Flex, $7,500 FD) tonight to Ryan Succup. Folk has been questionable all week so if he is out, then you will need to make a quick swap, and I am not actually aware of any of the potential replacements being available to play in DFS. But assuming he plays, I think Folk will be busy tonight as it is likely that the Patriots will be chasing points. In fact, this may be the only time you will hear I say this but I don’t even mind Folk on FanDuel tonight.
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GOOD LUCK IN YOUR CONTESTS