“Thursday Night Football” games have a reputation for being dull and uninteresting, but this one should buck that trend.
The New England Patriots will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in a matchup of high-powered offenses — a welcome sight for fantasy football players.
The Patriots, at 2-2, are off to a disappointing start to the season. But their offense, led by quarterback Tom Brady, remains as potent as ever. And the Bucs, while somewhat lack-luster on defense, feature a plethora of skill players on offense, with QB Jameis Winston leading the charge.
Whether you’re playing a daily fantasy sports contest or making a last-minute roster move in your season-long league, here’s who we think you should start and sit Thursday night:
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers. This one should be a no-brainer. Winston has a ton of weapons in his arsenal, including his shiny new toy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson. But while Winston is a solid start most weeks, he has an especially favorable matchup Thursday night, as he’s facing a Patriots defense that’s given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. He’s an easy QB1 start.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots. Outside of his breakout performance against the Houston Texans in Week 3, Cooks hasn’t delivered the numbers that many fantasy owners were hoping for. But if you watch the Patriots closely, it’s clear that Brady is starting to develop good chemistry with his new wideout, as some of the routes Cooks is running — and executing — are the kinds you only see when Brady has full confidence in who he’s throwing the ball too. We expect him to get back on track in Week 5.
Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers. With rookie tight end O.J. Howard starting to emerge, Brate might see his targets take a hit. Still, he’s one of the more reliable fantasy tight ends in the game and occasionally puts up big numbers, as evidenced by his four-catch, 80-yard and one touchdown performance against the New York Giants in Week 4. Furthermore, the Patriots’ defense is among the worst in the NFL against tight ends, and the team’s linebackers have been uninspiring thus far. Make sure Brate is in your lineup.
Patriots RBs. Despite being loaded with talent, the Patriots’ backfield once again is unreliable for fantasy purposes. Mike Gillislee appears to be the lead back, but passing-down duties still belong to James White and, to a lesser extent, Dion Lewis. White might be worth a flyer as a flex start, but we still don’t have confidence in any of these guys.
Patriots D/ST. You have to be pretty desperate to start the Patriots D/ST at this point. Not only is the team’s defense dead last in most statistical categories in the NFL, but the return game is virtually non-existent. Sure, some “TNF” matchups devolve into grind-it-out, defense-heavy games, but that likely won’t happen in this one. Keep the Patriots D where they belong: on your bench.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers. Rodgers has plenty of talent, but his workload likely will take a hit with Doug Martin back into the fold. Plus, the Patriots, as bad as they’ve been on defense, have played better against the run in recent weeks. Ultimately, though, the Bucs probably will air it out against the Pats, which could limit Rodgers’ chances to put up fantasy-relevant numbers.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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