Fantasy Focus: Thursday Night Football New England Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Week five of the NFL season is upon us. The last four weeks have been very entertaining, especially for fantasy football purposes. Week four’s excitement started with a rookie finishing as the top scoring fantasy quarterback. Deshaun Watson threw for 283 yards and five total touchdowns. As a measure of comparability, a rookie finished at the bottom of the quarterback ranking. DeShone Kizer threw for only 118 yards and one interception before being pulled for Kevin Hogan.

Each week so far has had it’s moments of awe and excitement. Fantasy expectations keep being met, missed, whiffed, or exceeded. As we move forward into week five, let’s take a look at some fantasy projections for Thursday night’s game.

Fantasy Focus: Thursday Night Football New England Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New England Patriots (2-2)

Tom Brady – Quarterback

For the second time in five weeks Tom Brady leads his team to a Thursday night match up. In week one, Brady looked like a player touched by father time. His passes were off-target and he lacked accuracy on anything but short pass attempts. Since then, he’s been the Brady whom everyone expects. He’s been accurate, completing over 70 percent of his passes in the last three weeks. His yards-per-game has been solid, going over 300 yards three of the last four weeks, and over 400 yards once. Through the first four games, he’s thrown ten touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Coming off of an upset last week at the hands Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, Brady is going to come into this game angry and focused. After losing week one’s match up to the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns in the next game. Granted, that was against a weak Saints defense. The Buccaneers defense is solid and ranked at 13th in the league. However, it is expected that Brady is going to come out determined.

Brady is must-start QB1 in both standard and PPR formats.

Mike Gillislee – Running Back

Mike Gillislee started the season looking like the back to own in New England. While only finishing with 45 yards rushing, he tacked on three touchdowns in week one. Since then, he hasn’t rushed for over 70 yards and only has one touchdown.

It’s clear that the Patriots want Gillislee to operate as the first and second down back as well as the goal-line option. For that reason, Gillislee is worth the start in standard formats as a touchdown dependent RB3/Flex play.

James White – Running Back

James White has solidified his role in the Patriots backfield as the passing-down back. Through the first four games he’s had 18 rushing attempts to 22 receptions. The Patriots have made it a point to utilize both aspects of his ability in their game plan. His involvement has been moderately safe to start the season.

White is a solid week-to-week start for PPR formats. He won’t find the end zone a lot, but remains a marginally consistent flex play option.

Danny Amendola – Wide Receiver

In week one, Amendola looked primed to take over for Julian Edelman as Brady’s top read. When Amendola is healthy he receives a good share of targets. Through the three games he’s played this season, he’s had fifteen targets and one touchdown.

Amendola is on the WR4/5 radar for PPR formats over standard leagues.

Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver

There was a lot of hype surrounding Brandin Cooks when he signed with the Patriots. Through the first four games, he’s had some inconsistent play. So far Cooks is catching only 54 percent of his targets. Look for Cooks to continue to build a rapport with Brady and hopefully solidify himself as a weekly top-option.

Cooks is averaging six targets a game. This puts him in the WR2 conversation with upside. He’s a boom-or-bust option in both standard and PPR leagues when it comes to touchdown potential.

Chris Hogan – Wide Receiver

Chris Hogan was quiet during the week one contest, reeling in only one pass on five targets. Since then, he’s had at least four receptions for 60 yards. He has also had four touchdowns. Hogan is establishing himself as a go-to target for Brady.

Hogan is an upside WR3 for this match up as he seems to be able to get it done in the red-zone. He’s a stronger start in standard scoring leagues.

Rob Gronkowski – Tight End

Rob Gronkowski seems to have put some health and injury behind him. Through four games he has 20 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns. His ability to somehow get open when it matters and then make the most of almost every catch, keeps in the mix despite game script.

Gronkowski is an every-week starter when healthy. He’s a locked-and-loaded TE1 for this week in all formats.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Jameis Winston – Quarterback

Jameis Winston has been an interesting quarterback for fantasy. He has the arm and at times, his accuracy is great. He has progressed in his first two seasons in every statistical category, including interceptions. At times his decision making is questionable. What has been most disappointing is how he doesn’t seem to show up statistically in the games in which he’s projected to have a huge fantasy day.

New England’s defense has been shredded by each quarterback they’ve faced this season. With a big arm, and plenty of weapons at his disposal, Winston should have a huge game. He’s a high-end QB1 for this match up and should be started in all formats. He’s also worth a look for DFS play this week.

Doug Martin – Running Back

Doug Martin is coming off of his suspension this week. Throughout his career, Martin is either stellar or awful. There has been little to no middle ground for Martin. His role for the first game back is still in question, as no one knows what his snap count will be.

Martin is a risky start this week.

Jacquizz Rodgers – Running Back

Rodgers has been serviceable during Martin’s suspension. He hasn’t done enough with his touches to steal the starting role. He has averaged just 4.1 yards-per-carry making him worthy of a role moving forward.

With the snap count for Martin in question, Rodgers may be the safer start for at least one more week. Rodgers is a middling RB3/flex option at best for this week.

Mike Evans – Wide Receiver

Mike Evans has been solid through two tough matchups in the last three weeks. He could have ended last week’s match up with three touchdowns if two hadn’t been called back. Evans is seemingly able to get open at will against tough coverage and has been Winston’s solid target thus far.

Against New Englands sieve-like defense, Evans is a must-start WR1. Start him with confidence in all formats.

DeSean Jackson – Wide Receiver

DeSean Jackson was an off-season acquisition that looks to play well with the type of quarterback that Jameis Winston is. Jackson is able to stretch the field with his lightning speed and ability to create separation. So far this season, he’s catching just under half of his targets.

Jackson has made a career of big plays. Consider him a WR3 with big-play upside this week.

Cameron Brate – Tight End

Cameron Brate is one of the few top fringe tight ends to see an increase in usage each week. His targets, receptions, and yards have gone up in each of the first three games of the season. He’s hauled in two touchdowns so far, and remains a red-zone target for Wintston even with rookie O.J. Howard getting involved.

Brate is losing some targets to Howard, but his red-zone target share keeps him in the stream-able tight ends category. In what looks to be a good game script for a potential shoot-out, he’s a decent start in both standard and PPR formats.

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