Week 13 MNF Fantasy Recap

  • Final score: Buccaneers 17, Saints 16 (Saints covered +4, U 40.5)


    Pregame: One of these two teams have won the NFC South title in each of the last five seasons, so few probably could have predicted that this primetime matchup in Week 13 would feature both with losing records. And yet, both are still squarely in the hunt for the division title even though all teams in the division actually have losing records. The Bucs were dealt a tough blow last week when All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs suffered a high ankle sprain that could knock him out for roughly a month. Wirfs was the fourth-best graded tackle in football according to PFF, so it’s going to be a sobering absence that will be felt by the entire Tampa offense. It hasn’t been all bad injury news for the Bucs, as both WR Russell Gage (hamstring) and RB Leonard Fournette (hip) practiced and could both be making their return this week. The Saints, meanwhile, will look to shake off their first shutout loss in over two decades against a Bucs defense that has underperformed this year and is just middle of the pack overall.


    Postgame: Goats do goat-like things. Tom Brady surpassed Peyton Manning for the most all-time fourth quarter/OT comeback wins with a furious two-minute drill that culminated in a game-winning touchdown pass to Rachaad White, erasing a late 16-3 deficit to the Saints. The Bucs were fairly listless during most of the game, with the lack of a deep passing game perhaps the most glaring flaw, something to be expected since Brady entered with a league and career-worst 31% completion percentage on passes of 20-plus yards. The dinks and dunks ultimately proved to be enough, as the Saints’ continued red zone woes bit them back hard in having to settle for just two field goals in the second half. The biggest injury news coming into this one was Saints CB Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) sitting out his annual popcorn-worthy showdown with Mike Evans, who despite not catching a ball on the game-winning drive was pivotal in their earlier fourth quarter touchdown drive.




    Pregame: Andy Dalton remains the starter over Jameis Winston for now, but don’t rule out the possibility of that changing if the Saints offense continues to slog after scoring just three points in their past five quarters of play. Dalton needs to execute better in the red zone, and he might have one less reliable target in that area on Monday with TE Juwan Johnson not practicing with an ankle ailment. The QB also needs to diversify his target tree a bit more beyond Chris Olave. As previously mentioned, the Bucs’ defense as a whole has been mediocre, but their secondary is still a standout unit that ranks fourth-best according to PFF grade. Dalton is a very low-end QB2 option in superflex/2QB leagues.


    Postgame: On the positive side, Dalton (229-1-0 passing, 13.2 total fantasy points) extended his turnover-less streak to three games. His red zone woes, however, continued as he’s now thrown just a lone touchdown in his last eight quarters of play resulting in the Saints settling for three field goals in this game that prevented them from putting the Bucs away when they had a chance. With losses now in four of their last five games, the Saints coaching staff could use the Week 14 bye to evaluate their quarterback room and decide whether Jameis Winston gives them a better chance to win moving forward. Superflex/2QB leaguers could continue to trot Dalton out there if he hangs on to the job, but the ceiling remains low.



    Pregame: We know that Alvin Kamara is far too talented to continue slumping like he has for basically the past month now. Mark Ingram has been limited with a foot injury, so Kamara should continue to carry a heavy workload. The versatile back has not averaged better than 3.5 YPC in five straight games now, and now has to contend with the Bucs’ third-best run defense just a week after getting stonewalled by the Niners’ top run-stopping group. It’s unfortunately going to likely be tough sledding in the passing game for Kamara too — the Bucs have limited running backs to the fewest receiving yards in the league. Kamara is the kind of elite talent that could smash through bad matchups on paper, but fantasy managers should keep realistic expectations especially of the ceiling this week.


    Postgame: What started as a slump in Week 9 has now become a full-blown crisis for Kamara (12-26-0 rushing, 2-11-0 receiving, three targets, 4.7 total fantasy points). With the Saints leading by as many as 13 at one point, the game script should have favored a long-awaited bounce-back from Kamara. Instead, he averaged under 2.5 YPC for the second straight week and was targeted a season-low three times. Fantasy managers have to be relieved about the bye just so they can stop staring at such ugly stat lines week after week from Kamara. While the Bucs were obviously no walk-in-the-park matchup-wise (3rd-fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs), Kamara also underwhelmed against a mediocre Steelers defense back in Week 10. The good news is that Kamara is finally out of the matchup woods against a murderer’s row of run defenses lately, and the upcoming Falcons (ninth-worst against RBs) and Browns (fourth-worst) matchups should cure what ails Kamara if he didn’t already sabotage his fantasy managers’ playoff chances.


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