CAR @ TB – GAME TOTAL 54.5 (CAR -3.5)
Fantasy football players can now rejoice. The bye weeks are behind us and we can finally go back to a full slate of games. This divisional contest between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers features one of the highest implied Vegas point totals of the week at 54.5 and a fairly neutral 3.5 spread. These two teams also met back in Week 9 with Carolina coming out on top 42-28. When you consider the results of the first meeting and the relatively high over/under for this week, this game has the potential to turn into another high-scoring shootout.
Due to the positive matchups on both sides, there are a number of players that can be used to create a variety of roster combinations. What follows will hopefully help you comb through some of the data to make solid lineup selections.
Before reviewing the possible fantasy options in this game, just a couple of quick notes beforehand.
All data and statistics included in this article are provided courtesy of FantasyData.com. All points allowed, points scored, and pricing is based on DraftKings (DK) data. In addition, all positional rankings and rankings for points allowed to each position is based on a points per game basis.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the fantasy relevant players in this matchup.
DraftKings Points Allowed to QBs –TB 23.9 (4th); CAR 22.5 (6th)
Carolina: Cam Newton, $6600 (QB7)
Entering this week, Cam Newton is the second highest priced quarterback on DraftKings at $6600 ($1000 less than Patrick Mahomes) and is ranked 7th at the position with an average of 24.1 DK points per game.
Although Newton carries a questionable tag and has been limited at practice this week, his situation isn’t all that different than last week and he ultimately ended up playing against the Seahawks. While reports suggest that the Panthers are simply trying to give his surgically repaired throwing shoulder a break, Newton also injured his ankle in Week 11 against the Lions. In all likelihood, Newton will probably take the field against the Buccaneers, but keep an eye on his status heading into this weekend just to be sure.
This season, in Norv Turner’s offense, Cam has regained some of the form that eluded him in 2017. Through the first 11 games, Newton is averaging 22.7 completions, 32.6 attempts, 245.4 passing yards, 2.0 touchdowns, and 0.6 interceptions per game. Adding to Newton’s fantasy value, he is also averaging 7.7 rush attempts, 37.9 rushing yards, and 0.4 touchdowns for a total average of 24.1 DK points per game. Last week against Seattle, Newton rushed 8 times for 63 yards, so if his ankle is still bothering him you wouldn’t know it based on those numbers.
Since the start of Week 2, Newton has thrown at least 2 touchdown passes in ten straight games and has at least three rushing/passing touchdowns in four of those contests. Newton’s fantasy scores have ranged from a low of 15.72 (Week 10 at Pittsburgh) to a high of 31.6 (Week 2 at Atlanta) and he has scored 21.0 or more DK points in 8 of 11 games this season.
As well as he has performed this year, Newton’s career numbers against the Buccaneers are somewhat surprising. Over the past six games against Tampa Bay, he is only averaging 18.7 DK points per game and has scored 17.1 DK points or less in four of those contests. Newton’s averages over those games is shown below.
While his previous fantasy totals against the Bucs are worth mentioning, we probably shouldn’t rely too heavily on those previous matchups as the Buccaneers are allowing the 4th most DK points to QBs at 23.9 per game this season and is more relevant than what happened two or three years ago.
In their first meeting in Week 9, Newton completed 19 of 25 attempts, threw for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns, and added 33 rushing yards on 11 carries for a total of 21.2 DK points which was his second highest total against Tampa Bay in their last six meetings. Given Newton’s track record this season and the porous nature of the Buccaneers defense, Newton could easily match or surpass that total on Sunday.
Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston, $6000 (QB14)
Coming into this game, Jameis Winston is this week’s 7th highest priced QB on the DraftKings main slate at $6000. Although he has certainly had some successful fantasy outings this season, 2018 has been a rocky year for Winston. After missing the first three games due to suspension, he regained his job in Week 4 only to lose it in Week 8 and then regain it once again in Week 11. Despite the ping-pong nature of the Buccaneers QB situation, Winston is once again slated to start in Week 13.
In all the games in which he has appeared, Winston is averaging 22.8 completions, 33.7 attempts, 282.0 passing yards, 1.7 touchdown passes, 1.8 interceptions, and 20.9 DK points per game. However, these totals include three games in which he only appeared for approximately half the game. If we remove those from the equation, we are left with three games in which Winston has played from start to finish. In those contests, his averages jump to 30.3 completions, 43.7 attempts, 357.3 passing yards, 2.0 touchdowns, 1.3 interceptions, and 29.2 DK points per game.
The real question is which Winston are we going to get this weekend? The one that threw 4 touchdown passes and put up 35.7 DK points against Atlanta in Week 6 or the one that threw 4 interceptions and scored 12.8 DK points in Week 8 at Cincinnati?
Although Winston did not play in the first meeting between these two teams in Week 9, Winston’s past six games against the Panthers looks more like his line against Cincinnati (see below). Over this span of games, his fantasy totals have ranged from a low of 6.7 DK points (Week 8 in 2017) to a high of 21.4 DK points (Week 17 in 2015). Winston’s averages over these six games is shown below.
Based on the numbers above, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Winston has averaged almost twice as many interceptions as touchdowns versus the Panthers. That said, Carolina is currently giving up the 6th most points to opposing QBs this season at 22.5 DK points per game so the matchup is certainly favorable. Furthermore, what happened before doesn’t necessarily mean that he will play poorly this time around. However, given the yo-yo nature of the Buccaneers QB situation earlier in the year, it is something to consider before locking Winston in your lineups this Sunday.
DraftKings Points Allowed to RBs – TB 30.1 (7th); CAR 21.1 (25th)
Carolina: Christian McCaffrey, $8800 (RB5)
As if I needed to remind anyone, McCaffrey exploded last week against the Seahawks for 52.7 DK points while rushing 17 times for 125 yards, pulling in 11 receptions for 112 yards, and scoring a total of 2 touchdowns (1 rushing and 1 receiving).
While that game was particularly impressive, McCaffrey has really turned on the jets the past five weeks. After only scoring 1 touchdown over the first six games, over the past five contests he has averaged 32.2 DK points per game and has scored a total of 5 rushing touchdowns and 4 receiving touchdowns. On the year, he has scored more than 20.0 DK points in 7 of 11 games. His season-long averages are shown below.
This week, McCaffrey will have the opportunity to keep the train rolling against a porous Buccaneers rush defense that he exploited for 32.7 DK points back in Week 9. At just past the mid-point of the season, Tampa Bay is allowing the 7th most DraftKings points to running backs at 30.1 per game. In addition to the 32.7 outing by McCaffrey in Week 9, this defense has also given up big games to Alvin Kamara (46.1), Tarik Cohen (33.4), Joe Mixon (31.8), and Saquon Barkley (38.2).
While there is no such thing as a sure thing in fantasy football, McCaffrey is in an excellent spot again this weekend and should be highly considered as a high-floor/high-ceiling option on Sunday.
Tampa Bay: Peyton Barber, $3700 (RB44); Jacquizz Rodgers, $3200 (RB68); Ronald Jones, $3100 (RB73)
Leading into this game, the Buccaneers backfield has been hit or miss this season as Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Ronald Jones have all seen work at various points throughout the first eleven games. Of the three, Barber is the most likely candidate to see the most work as he is averaging 13.9 carries per game and has had a handful of respectable fantasy outings this year when compared to his price point. In fact, over the past five weeks, Barber has averaged 15.8 carries per game and totaled 14.0 or more DK points in three of his past five contests.
However, rookie running back Ronald Jones has missed most of this time while nursing a hamstring injury and has now been removed from the Buccaneers injury report. While Jones won’t likely unseat Barber from lead back duties, prior to his injury he was averaging almost five carries per game which could eat into Barber’s workload.
Further clouding this situation has been the recent role of Jacquizz Rodgers in the Buccaneers passing game out of the backfield. Over Tampa Bay’s first six games, Rodgers saw a total of 8 targets but over the last five games, he has seen a total of 23. As a result, Rodgers has been able to log two double-digit fantasy outings in the past three weeks. With Jones now supposedly at full health, it’s fair to wonder if he could also eat into Rodgers recent usage in the passing game.
Long story short, if all three backs are healthy and involved in the game plan, their opportunities may mirror their season averages which are shown below.
This weekend, this trio of backs will be facing the Panthers defense which is currently allowing the 8th fewest DK points to running backs at 21.1 per game. Through their first 11 games, the only back to score more than 20.0 DK points against this defense was Saquon Barkley in Week 5. However, seven other backs have scored between 13.3 to 19.6. This group includes Ezekiel Elliott, Tevin Coleman, Giovani Bernard, Alex Collins, James Conner, Kerryon Johnson, and Chris Carson.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Barber totaled 6.0 DK points, Rodgers added 3.0, and Barber did not play due to injury. Given that the matchup is not particularly favorable and Jones’ potential reintroduction into the mix, the Buccaneers running backs are probably best suited as deep GPP dart throws.
DraftKings Points Allowed to WRs – TB 42.4 (6th); CAR 40.1 (14th)
Carolina: D.J. Moore, $5600 (WR48); Devin Funchess, $5000 (WR46); Curtis Samuel, $3900 (WR55)
Presumable number one wide receiver Devin Funchess missed last week’s game against Seattle with a back injury and is currently listed as questionable. However, he was able to log a limited practice on Thursday and according to Cam Newton, was seen leaping for a pass during the session. Despite Newton’s comments and optimism, Funchess’ status bears monitoring leading into the weekend.
With Funchess out this past Sunday, Newton’s targets to wide receivers were distributed to D.J. Moore(9), Curtis Samuel (2), and Jarius Wright (2). However, if we look at the previous three games with Funchess active, Newton’s passes to wide receivers went to Funchess (18), Moore (15), and Samuel (15). These target totals match up well with each player’s season-long averages which are shown below.
This season, the Buccaneers pass defense is giving up the 6th most DraftKings points to opposing wide receivers at 42.4 per game. They have allowed some huge individual performances to opposing wide receivers this year. This group includes Michael Thomas (42.0), Nelson Agholor (23.0), Juju Smith-Schuster (23.6), Taylor Gabriel (33.4), Julio Jones (27.4), Jarvis Landry (25.7), and Tyler Boyd (31.6). The table below shows the team totals for each of their opponents (players are listed in order from most to least DK points scored in each game).
In their first meeting in Week 9, Curtis Samuel totaled 19.8, Funchess logged 8.4, and Moore scored 5.8. Given their usage in this offense and the choice matchup with the Buccaneers pass defense, all three of the receivers have value this weekend. In the event that Funchess is unable to play, Moore and Samuel will an even greater opportunity to surpass their salary implied totals.
Buccaneers: Mike Evans, $8100 (WR11); DeSean Jackson – OUT, $4800 (WR27); Adam Humphries, $4200 (WR44); Chris Godwin, $3900 (WR40)
Whether you want to blame it on a lack of a consistent running game, offensive philosophy, or a Tampa Bay defense that has been unable to stop their opponents from scoring, the Buccaneers offense has been forced to throw the ball a ton this year. As was noted earlier, in the three games that Winston has started and finished, he is attempting an average of 43.7 passes per game.
Fortunately for the Buccaneers, Evans, Jackson, Humphries, and Godwin are capable pass catchers that each see their fair share of work on a week-to week basis. The table below shows the season averages for each of these players.
While Evans is the clear leader in DK points, the target share for these three players in Winston’s three complete games has been fairly even. In those contests, Winston’s passes to wide receivers have been distributed to Evans (24), Jackson (21), Godwin (19) and Humphries (19).
In what has the potential to be a high scoring affair, this quartet will be taking on a Panthers pass defense that is currently allowing the 14th most DK points to opposing wide receivers at 40.1 per game. Over the course of the first twelve weeks, they have allowed big games to Tyler Boyd (28.7), Odell Beckham Jr. (35.4), Alshon Jeffery (21.8), Antonio Brown (21.6), Juju Smith-Schuster (19.3), Kenny Golladay (28.3), Tyler Lockett (24.5), and David Moore (23.3). The table below shows the team totals for each of the Panthers opponents this season (players are listed in order from most to least DK points scored in each game).
In addition to the aforementioned receivers, in their Week 9 matchup, Humphries torched the Panthers for 28.9 DK points, while Godwin was held to 6.0, Jackson to 5.2, and Evans to a paltry 2.6. Evans’ low number is particularly alarming considering that he only brought in one reception on ten targets. Nevertheless, all four of these receivers can be considered in this Week 13 rematch between these two teams.
UPDATE: DeSean Jackson has been ruled out for Sunday which puts approximately 6.5 targets and 14.0 DK points up for grabs. As a result, we can give a slight bump to Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin in this game.
DraftKings Points Allowed to TEs – TB 16.2 (4th); CAR 17.8 (1st)
Carolina: Greg Olsen, $4100 (TE13)
Neither of the defenses in this game has defended the tight end especially well this season and both are solid options this weekend. For the Panthers, Greg Olsen serves as a reliable and fairly consistent option in Carolina’s passing attack. Although he missed time due to injury earlier this season, since his return at the start of Week 6, he has averaged 3.4 receptions, 5.0 targets, and 10.4 DK points per game. Olsen’s season long averages are shown in the table below.
The Buccaneers are allowing the 4th most points to opposing tight ends this season at 16.2 per game. In their first meeting in Week 9, Olsen caught all six of his targets for 56 yards and a touchdown which was good for 19.6 DK points. He is a strong play at the tight end position again this weekend.
Tampa Bay: Cameron Brate, $3700 (TE31)
If you are looking to spend down at the position on Sunday, Cameron Brate provides one possible option. While Brate’s season-long totals don’t jump off the page, he has a number of factors tilted in his favor in this game.
First and foremost, Brate has spent the majority of this season competing for targets with second year tight end O.J. Howard. With Howard being placed on injured reserve prior to the start of Week 12, Brate was able to put up 11.6 DK points last weekend against the 49ers. In that game, he caught three passes on four targets and one touchdown which was his fourth of the season.
In addition, Brate’s best games this season have come with Winston at the quarterback position. In fact, Brate has caught a touchdown in two of the three games that Winston has started and finished. To illustrate the bump he has received with Winston at quarterback, the first table shows Brate’s season-long averages while the second shows his numbers in the three complete games Winston has played.
The other factor in Brate’s favor is that the Panthers are allowing the most DK points to tight ends this season at 17.8 DK points per game. Due to his low salary and the positive matchup, Brate is likely to be a popular choice on Sunday and could easily outperform his salary implied total.
GAME STACK CONSIDERATIONS
Carolina: Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel, and Greg Olsen
Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston, Peyton Barber (GPP), Jacquizz Rodgers (GPP), Ronald Jones (GPP), Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, and Cameron Brate