Week 5 begins with the Bucs visiting the Bears in a game with a 44.5 total and Tampa Bay favored by 5.5. This should be a relatively slow-paced, defensive slog. We now have relevant DVOA information for the season, and the Bucs are the 2nd best defense by DVOA with the Bears the 7th best.
We’ll start with the home team. With Tarik Cohen gone for the season, David Montgomery was the undisputed bell cow of the backfield, playing 85% of the snaps. He has a nightmarish matchup on the ground but his season-high six targets give some added stability to his floor. Goal-line backs always carry value in Showdown (hi, Todd Gurley from Monday Night’s game), and even in a tough matchup, the volume makes Montgomery a robust play. Cordarrelle Patterson backed up Montgomery in Week 4 but did nothing useful and has not shown the same kind of explosiveness that we have seen from him in past seasons; he’s an MME dart. Ryan Nall has been the only other running back on the field for the Bears, and his role didn’t expand in Week 4, so while that could possibly change in Week 5, there is no data to suggest that (keep an eye on beat reporters for any news on backfield usage).
In the passing game, I am assuming Nick Foles will get another start, but have not seen any news yet. Regardless of QB, this is an awfully tough matchup against a Bucs defense that is 4th in DVOA against opposing passing attacks. With QB pricing up in Showdowns this year, it’s hard to stomach paying $10k for the Bears’ QB in this matchup, but the position does still offer the safest floor around. The most likely Bears receiver to succeed is, of course, Allen Robinson, who has yet to see fewer than nine targets in a game this year. The matchup isn’t perfect and the pricing isn’t either, but the volume is there for Robinson and he’s an elite talent. Behind Robinson, we have seen Darnell Mooney’s snaps increase every week, and while the results haven’t been there yet, the usage is extremely encouraging. Anthony Miller’s snaps and volume have been less predictable; he played 69% of the snaps last week and saw just five targets on 42 passing attempts from Foles. Miller has shown plenty of ceiling before, but he’s definitely a tourney-only play for me. Jimmy Graham has shown touchdown-driven signs of life this year and his volume has been strong, but if he doesn’t get into the end zone he’s unlikely to put up a solid score, especially now that he’s priced at $6,800. Ted Ginn, Javon Wims, Demetrius Harris, and Cole Kmet are not very involved in the offense and are your MME dart throws in the Chicago receiving corps, with Ginn my preferred play of the group as he can get you there on just one deep bomb. Price considered I’d rank the Bears’ receivers as Robinson, Mooney, Miller, Graham.
On the Bucs’ side, Ronald Jones played 64% of the snaps last week with Leonard Fournette out and performed well enough (outside of his unsurprising issues with drops), including a rather surprising nine targets. If Fournette is out again, Jones should see a similar workload and is a strong play; the Bears’ D is good all around but is weaker against the run, so the matchup is positive for Jones. Rookie Ke’shawn Vaughn backed up Jones with LeSean McCoy seeing his snaps diminish (and then getting hurt) and turned six touches into 23 yards and a touchdown. Vaughn is a fine punt play at $1,000 if Fournette misses again. If Fournette is active, all bets are off; we saw Jones run way ahead of Fournette in Week 1 before making a mistake in Week 2 that got him benched and Fournette went berserk. It seems more likely than not that Fournette misses this game based on what I’m seeing as I write this on Tuesday, but if he’s active, it’s a tick down to both Jones and Vaughn while Fournette himself is a wild card.
The Bucs’ receiving corps is basically all on the injury report. OJ Howard’s season is over, while Chris Godwin is expected to miss the game, and all of Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, Justin Watson, and Rob Gronkowski are questionable. Right now everything looks like Godwin misses and the rest should play, but be ready for later news here. Assuming that is the case, Evans is a fantastic play against a Bears D that has shown vulnerability to perimeter receivers. As is basically always the case with the Bucs, when one of Godwin or Evans misses a game, the other becomes a great play. Justin Watson led all Bucs receivers in snaps last week and is an awfully attractive play at $2,600, while Scotty Miller has shown more upside than Watson on similar volume but is $7,000. The other wide receivers to mention are Tyler Johnson, who has played over 30% of the snaps the past two weeks but has yet to see a target this year (and is priced at the minimum) and Jaydon Mickens, who is primarily a special teams guy (returning kicks if Kenjon Barner misses this game). At tight end, Rob Gronkowski is playing a lot of snaps but outside of Week 3 has only seen seven targets this year. At some point this season he’ll probably score a touchdown and Howard’s absence opens up more opportunity for him, as well as for Cameron Brate, whose role should expand as well with Howard out and is probably the better receiving option of the Bucs’ tight ends at this point in their respective careers. Ranked with price considered I’ll go Evans, Watson, Brate, Miller, Gronk here.
The most likely way for this game to play out is a relatively slow-paced defensive battle, with the Bears attempting to hide their QB to the greatest extent possible while still trying to move the ball in a horrible matchup on the ground and keep the game close. This will be a battle of strength against strength, as Chicago’s offensive line has been good to start the season, but the Bucs’ D-line is ranked 3rd against the run. The Bucs will be more likely to use a pass-heavier attack, and Tom Brady has looked at least capable so far this season (and just came off of demolishing the Chargers’ strong pass D for 369 yards and 5 touchdowns). Eventually, the Bucs should pull out to a lead, forcing the Bears to become more aggressive and chase. Some other ways the game could play out:
If the Bears can take an early lead, they’ll want to lean heavily on their run and short passing game. Brady has looked good for the last two games, but pretty mediocre in the first two, and he has already thrown multiple pick-sixes this year. If that happens early on in this one and stakes the Bears to a lead that they can sit on, this game could really slow down. In this scenario, we’d want to look to the Bucs’ passing attack, the Bears ground game and defense, and probably not Nick Foles or more than one Chicago receiver.
The Bucs could also just wreck the Bears. If they’re the ones who take an early lead while the Bears stumble against their tough defense, Chicago could be in a really tough spot, needing to adjust to a predictable passing game with a lack of elite weaponry outside of Allen Robinson. 5-1 Bucs onslaughts are very much in play on this one.
For cash games, my primary considerations are Brady, Montgomery, Jones (if Fournette misses), Evans (assuming Godwin is out), the kickers, and a couple of the other cheap guys who are on the field a lot (Mooney, Watson, even Vaughn if no Fournette). Foles is a secondary consideration for me in this one; I never mind rostering both QBs in cash and like to do so, but he’s awfully expensive in this one. If I can fit him I’d like to but I don’t think it’s a must.
For tournaments, my favorite captain is Mike Evans, with Allen Robinson and the running backs also highly viable. Brady himself is viable as well as he’s always been a “spread the ball around” type of quarterback and the Tampa receivers are fairly cheap outside of Evans, and I will also take a few shots on captains like Mooney and Watson to let me build some stud-heavy lineups.
SOME GROUPS TO CONSIDER:
At most 1 kicker and most 1 defense as (almost) always
Pair captain receivers with their QBs (or consider boosting the QB if using a captain receiver if you don’t want 100% exposure to this pairing)
If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker
If captaining a QB, pair them with at least 2 receivers
At most 1 of each team’s MME punts
At most 1 Bucs RB
At most 1 of Gronk and Brate
Unless building for an expectedly high-scoring game, at most 2 Bears receivers