Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4, 8-7 ATS) at New York Jets (4-11, 5-10), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends
Tom Brady will get one last chance to pick on the Jets’ franchise this week, against whom he owns a career .806 winning percentage in 36 career games (29-7).
The Buccaneers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games.
Tampa Bay is 5-2 toward unders in its last seven games.
Tom Brady has posted his second- and third-lowest passing yard totals of the season in the last two weeks with Chris Godwin (ACL, IR) and Mike Evans (hamstring) out of the lineup. He attempted a season-low 30 passes in a lopsided victory against the Panthers last week, and the Bucs enter this week as near two-touchdown favorites. New York is giving up the third-most YPA (7.6) and the seventh-most passing yards per game (263.1) despite facing the ninth-fewest attempts per contest (32.7).
The Antonio Brown circus is back in town after he sat out nine weeks for a foot injury and for a three-game suspension for a fake vaccination card. He stepped into a WR1 type of role in Week 16 with Godwin and Evans out of the lineup, and he delivered with 10/101 receiving on a whopping 15 targets. Brady targeted AB on a ridiculous 50% of his 30 passes in their lopsided victory over the Panthers. Brown has posted 5+ catches and 90+ yards in five of his six games and he’s reached 20+ FP four times this season. He’s got a great chance to finish as a WR1 once again this week against a lowly Jets’ defense, especially if the Buccaneers give Evans another week to get healthy for the postseason — he also landed on the COVID list this week. The lowly Jaguars’ passing attack had three different WRs post 4+ catches and 50+ receiving yards last week.
Rob Gronkowski has come up extremely small the last two weeks with Godwin and Evans out of the picture. He’s managed just 3/52 receiving on 13 targets against the Panthers and Saints, and Cameron Brate vulture a touchdown for the second time in four weeks. The Jets are giving up a healthy 11.9 YPR and the ninth-most FPG (14.5) to TEs this season.
Ronald Jones wasn’t particularly effective in his first game as Tampa’s lead back, but he got home with 20/65/1 rushing and 2/16 receiving on a 52% snap share against the Panthers. Ke’Shawn Vaughn broke off a 55-yard touchdown run on his way to 7/70/1 rushing and he failed to catch his lone target on 36% of the snaps. RoJo has a chance to get to 20+ carries again this week as 13-point road favorites, and the Jets are facing the second-most carries per game (26.1) from RBs. New York is allowing a league-high 173.6 scrimmage yards per game to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Jets Stats and Trends
New York has covered in consecutive games but they still own the league’s second-worst ATS record at 5-10.
The Jets are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
New York is 9-3 toward overs in its last 12 games.
Zach Wilson had his best fantasy performance of the season (23.2) in Week 16 thanks to a fluky 52-yard touchdown run. He posted just 102/1 passing in their victory over the Jaguars, and he’s finished with fewer than 205 passing yards in six of his last seven games. The Buccaneers have contained limited QBs (Taysom, Cam, Darnold) to a combined 23.8 FP over the last two games.
Elijah Moore is eligible to return from the injured reserve this week off of his quad injury, and Wilson could certainly use the help with Jamison Crowder also sitting out last week. The rookie had 6/77/1 receiving on 12 targets the last time we saw him against the Eagles in Week 13. He posted 13+ FP in five of his last six games, and his role should remain massive with Corey Davis (core, IR) done for the season. D.J. Moore posted 5/55 receiving on 11 targets in this matchup last week, and the Bucs are allowing the fourth-most catches per game (13.9) to WRs.
Michael Carter is coming off season-highs in carries (16), rushing yards (118), YPC (7.4), and snap share (74%) in New York’s victory over the Jaguars. Carter has been a non-factor in the passing game with just 4/10 receiving in his last three games, which is bad news heading into the matchup. The Buccaneers are giving up the fewest rushing yards per game (58.1) but the second-most catches per contest to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.7 (13th)
Plays per game: 66.6 (4th)
Pass: 65.7% (2nd) | Run: 34.3% (31st)
Pace: 24.7 (4th)
Plays per game: 62.3 (19th)
Pass: 64.1% (6th) | Run: 35.9% (27th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Brady is coming off a season-low 30 pass attempts in a blowout win without his guys Godwin and Evans and we could be looking at a very similar game-script here. Prior to last week, Brady and the Bucs were the most pass-heavy team in the league – Brady was averaging 43 attempts per game – but unless the Jets shock the world and keep this game really close, I don’t see a pathway for Tampa to get back to their extremely pass-heavy ways here.
Overall, this is the third-best game from a pace / plays perspective because the Jets are forced to play fast and try to catch up so often. Still, we need the Jets to score to keep Brady and the Bucs’ foot on the gas for this game to be a shootout and it’s hard to be optimistic about that. Tampa has held two similarly inept offenses, the Saints (9 points scored) and Panthers (6), out of the end-zone over the last two weeks.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The Jets are putting one of the worst run defenses of the last decade on the field. If not for their horrendous defense of the pass, we could extend that worst of the last reference back to 20 years. In addition to the most total YPG (391.3), New York has permitted 141.3 rushing YPG (second-most), 4.5 YPC (eighth-most), 2.97% rate of 20-or-more yards runs (third-most), and 1.8 TDs/game (the most). NYJ has provided opposing RBs with 33.6 FPG (the most), 20.2 FPG to RBs on the ground (the most), 13.3 FPG to RBs through the air (second-most), 3.27 goal-to-go (GTG) carries/game (the most), and 7.13 red zone (RZ) touches/game (the most). This is a Ronald Jones blurb.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Bucs drawing a juicy matchup with the Jets in Week 17 is likely music to their ears — if they can’t get star WR Mike Evans back from a hamstring and/or the COVID list this week, they’ll likely run the hell out of the football.
Asked about Mike Evans, Harold Goodwin says there's "a chance he may play" Sunday but will likely be a game-day decision on whether he plays.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 31, 2021
That’s good news for RB Ronald Jones, who has one of the juiciest matchups in all of football this week. Here’s Jake Tribbey from DFS Early Look:
“Jones saw 22 touches and scored 16.1 fantasy points in his season debut as the Buccaneers lead RB.
Jones role on Sunday was incredibly similar to the 3 games he filled in for Leonard Fournette last season, when he earned 23.3 touches per game, a 63% snap share, 4.0 targets per game, 100% of carries inside the 5, and 22.1 DraftKings FPG and 18.6 FanDuel FPG.
But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume Jones can provide more value than that, given his Week 17 opponent. The Jets have allowed +11.8 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs this season, which isn’t just the most in the NFL, it’s 60% more than the No. 2 team (Seattle), and 293% more than the No. 5 team (Atlanta). This isn’t just the NFL’s softest defense for opposing RBs, it’s the softest by an order of magnitude.
And with Tampa favored by 13.0-points (the 3rd-largest spread of the slate), a run-heavy approach seems all but guaranteed.”
I like Jones as an RB1 this week, with QB Tom Brady a low-end QB1 given his decimated receiving corps.
If he plays despite tweaking his ankle injury last week, WR Antonio Brown must be in your championship lineup, and despite a disappointingly quiet game in Week 16 against the Panthers, so does TE Rob Gronkowski — despite catching just 1 pass, Gronk ran 26 routes in Week 16, just one fewer than Brown.
Bucs assistant coach Harold Goodwin says Antonio Brown may have tweaked his ankle and has missed some practice 'but he has a chance to play as well.''— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 31, 2021
Here’s Jake from Early Look on AB, again presuming he plays:
“Saying Antonio Brown was the whole show for Tampa Bay on Sunday somehow feels like an understatement. He recorded 14 targets for an otherworldly 50% target share, and 101 receiving yards for a 44% yardage market share. The result was 20.1 fantasy points, but that seems like it’s on the low end of reasonable outcomes going forward for as long as Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are out, given just how large of a share of receiving work AB carved out in a WR unit averaging 46.6 FPG so far this year.
The 19.2 FPG that Brown averages this year ranks 4th among slate-eligible WRs, and yet he’s priced as the WR18 on DraftKings. And keep in mind, 5 of Brown’s 6 games this season have come with Godwin and Evans playing. So 19.2 FPG is probably closer to an accurate floor for Brown, rather than an average expectation going forward.
For his Week 17 matchup, the Jets rank middle of the pack in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs (+0.6), but, they do rank 4th-worst in PFF coverage grades (44.1), so I’d say the matchup is at least somewhat favorable.”
If you’re dying for another receiver in the event AB doesn’t go, former LSU track star WR Cyril Grayson was third on Tampa with 25 routes. Slot receiver Tyler Johnson was a massive disappointment, running 22 routes but not even drawing a target. With Breshad Perriman coming off the COVID list, it might be hard to play a secondary receiver here if AB does go. If he doesn’t, Grayson and Johnson are likely the best options, while I anticipate a heavy dose of RoJo and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield.
I have a hard time finding a Jet I’m willing to play. While RB Michael Carter ran for over 100 yards last week, the Bucs are the worst ground-game matchup in the NFL, and QB Zach Wilson still doesn’t check the ball down. At the least, if you need Carter, Tevin Coleman is likely to miss this game after being placed on the COVID-19 list.
The one guy I may make an exception for — and again, this is a nasty matchup — is WR Elijah Moore, if he’s able to come off of IR and play through a quad injury. He’d be a dart-throw WR3 with Wilson facing a Bucs defense still playing for the NFC’s #1 seed.
#Jets injury update: Elijah Moore (IR) + Jamison Crowder are day-to-day. Elijah Riley (concussion) expected back. Trevon Wesco (knee) out.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) December 27, 2021
7 players coming off COVID list, including JFM + Foley Fatukasi. 3 more expected later in wk, including Michael Carter II + Ashtyn Davis.
Here’s Scott Barrett on Moore from Start/Sit:
“Moore is admittedly a little tough to trust, coming off a quad injury and the COVID-19 list. He’s reportedly 50/50 to play on Sunday, per HC Robert Saleh. But if he does play, we like him as a high-end WR3.
Moore has seen at least 6 targets in 7 straight games, and averages 8.1 targets and 17.7 FPG (WR9) over this span. Or, 9.0 targets and 20.1 FPG (WR3) over his last 5 games.
Of course it’s also a little worrisome he’s cracked 10.5 fantasy points just once with Zach Wilson under center. But he did accomplish that feat in their last game together, when he turned 12 targets into 20.6 fantasy points, and despite the handicap of running 58% of his routes against CB Darius Slay — PFF’s 3rd highest-graded CB. And this week’s matchup looks a lot softer; Tampa Bay ranks 6th-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (22.8).”