Hey fantasy owners, your Commish is back with another edition of the Commissioner’s Corner. This week we have Tampa @ Chicago. We received some good feedback on how we formatted the start ‘em or sit ‘em last week with the Bucs match up, so we’ll do another one like that this week.
We’ve had some interesting fantasy play these past few weeks. Some major fantasy numbers, but also some major disappointments. The biggest issue has been on the injury front, especially as we came out of week 2. The coolest thing though is that we still get to talk about football, especially fantasy football!
This week I’m switching platforms from ESPN.com ppr ranking to NFL.com ppr ranking so that it’s more unbiased to your chosen fantasy platform. Even though I think ESPN has a phenomenal fantasy ranking system and analysis, I’m going to neutral ground out of respect for all my fantasy owners out there.
Let’s get into a down and dirty starter recap from last week.
According to NFL.com, Tom Brady is now ranked as a QB7. Quite the bump up and well deserved. He was listed as my starter heading into a tough contest against a decent Chargers team. A little banged up on defense, but in my opinion they were still underestimated.
Brady did NOT disappoint at all last week! He threw for 369 yards, threw 5 touchdown passes, and 1 INT which could be considered redeemable with a 5 TD performance like that. This was Brady’s biggest fantasy week in over 3 years with 32 FPTS. Last time he scored over 30 FPTS was back in 2017-2018 season, in week 3 against the Houston Texans where he scored 35 FPTS. That’s an incredible stretch.
So, I had Austin Ekeler listed as my starter. Obviously my crystal ball wasn’t working well that day. Ekeler went down in the 1st quarter with a significant hamstring issues. He couldn’t even sit in the cart to get off the field. The game continued to play on as they worked on him on the Charger’s sidelines. He left the game with only 2 FPTS.
I also told you to sit Ronald Jones II and every other Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back. Well, again......my crystal ball was apparently fogging up. The Bucs effectively ran the ball and was able to get Rojo down the field for 111 yards. The Chargers were banged up on their defensive line, and as long as they ran the opposite side from Joey Bosa, they did well.
I also failed to strongly consider how big of a difference Leonard Fournette’s injury would make on Jones’ fantasy value. Rojo ended the game with 18 FPTS and is a must start as long as Fournette and McCoy are sidelined with injuries.
At the beginning of the year, I was not high on Mike Evans with Tom Brady at all. I seriously though Brady’s ability to spread the ball would hinder Evans’ fantasy value, significantly. Brady is not known for chucking it down the field like Jameis Winston did. He also doesn’t tend to lean on just one receiver.
Evans is a force to be reckoned with though. he was my starter and will continue to be my started for the rest of the season, even when Godwin returns. Him and Scotty Miller are the new dynamic duo, but we’ll get more into this later.
Mike Evans finished week 4 with 25 FTPS earning him a WR12 ranking. He had 122 yards receiving and 1 touchdown.
I also said to start Keenan Allen. He’s WR1 status any day, and with Herbert, even more so. He didn’t run up the board like he should have, but we also didn’t think the Bucs secondary was going to get torched by two young former practice squad Charger receivers either. Man, that was ugly.
Allen finished week 4 with 14 FPTS on 62 receiving yards. He’ll continue to do well with both Herbert and Taylor upon his return.
Ok, ok......I got a little bit of slack for giving Gronkowski so much props heading into week 4. He only got one reception up the middle, but it was an effective catch getting the Bucs down the field for another 29 yards. He finished the week off with 3 FPTS on 29 yards and 1 reception.
He’s the Swiss Army knife of tight ends. He’s effective running several routes, he’s probably one of the best blocking tight ends in the league and he’s very persuasive. He will draw coverage away from Evans, Miller and even the other tight ends like Brate whom saw the end zone for the first time this year in week 4.
O.J. Howard’s injury is a serious blow to the Bucs. Leftwich has been very coy with Howard’s utilization, and not so much about Gronk. The Bucs have directly wanted other teams to draw in on Gronkowski so that it opens things down field for Brady. But, with Howard going down for the year, Gronk definitely has a chance to fill those shoes and get utilized a lot more heading into the week’s ahead.
Now let’s turn to the week 5 match up against the “Monsters of the Midway” Chicago Bears.
I’m telling you, you will get sick and tired of seeing this guy on every single one of our Commissioner’s Corner posts week in and week out if we stick with the Bucs match up format. As I keep saying, he is a must start, and should only be benched against the best all around defenses, which looking at the schedule, I don’t see any.
As I mentioned above, he hasn’t scored a 30+ fantasy point game in 3 full seasons! He’s proven to us that father time doesn’t have anything on him and he’s found the fountain of youth.
The Bears defense has allowed over 20 PPG in weeks 1 and 3 when they played the Lions and the Falcons, respectively. Khalil Mack can’t be everywhere, but he is a force to be reckoned with. Leftwich knows not to sleep on this defense though, so he’ll likely be steering clear of that defensive line, which could open up the play-action pass more and Brady will force the secondary to beat him.
Sit: Nick Foles (QB33), Chicago Bears (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Foles was brought to Chicago undoubtedly to compete and eventually replace Mitch Trubiskey as the starter. He did just that. Foles is most known for being the Super Bowl LII MVP after he caught the catch in the “Philly Special” play from tight end Trey Burton. Burton and Foles now have something else in common, the Chicago Bears.
Foles was just given the starting gig over Trubiskey last week against a really tough defense. Many of us were scratching our heads after hearing Trubiskey got the initial nod at the beginning of the season after the Bears deliberately pursued Foles. Perhaps it was competition, not sure. All I know is that the Bears were 3-0 with Trubiskey, and they are 0-1 with Nick Foles as the starter.
Foles finished his first start as a Chicago Bear in week 4 with 11 FTPS on 249 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. He’s not a starter in any league format and shouldn’t even be considered for bye week play especially when you have so many other QBs on the waiver wire like Burrow, Minshew, Carr and Bridgewater.
Start: Ronald Jones II (RB24), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Chicago Bears)
I’m going really simple on this one. You start Rojo with Fournette and McCoy out with injuries. Just by sheer play time, Jones should be highly effective. The rookie, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, will definitely get some play time in and may even get a touchdown again, but Rojo will get the bulk of carries.
The only concern and caution I have to give here is that he will not run up the yardage against this tough Bears defensive line. Mack, Travathan, and Hicks are some of the toughest in the game. Maybe this week, Bowles and Leftwich agreed to square up the 1’s to give the Bucs offensive line a taste of what it feels like to play a d-line similar to our own.
Sit: David Montgomery (RB27), Chicago Bears (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
I actually wouldn’t be mad if you were forced to start Montgomery. He’s a decent RB2/RB3 option for your lineup if you’re in a deeper league, or if you have your RB1 on a bye week. He proved his fantasy value in week 2 against the Giants with a 21 point showing.
Here’s the deal though, they keys to fantasy success is consistency. You can never predict when a player will be utilized and be effective from week to week. You need consistent performance week in and week out to confidently set your lineups, and he just hasn’t shown that consistency in Matt Nagy’s offense.
The Colts and Bucs defense have a lot of similar traits. I would be cautious if you do have to start him, as he was only able to get 27 yards on the ground last week with no TDs. He’s a sit for me this week given the matchup against a Bucs defense set out for a revenge performance.
Start: Scotty Miller (WR32), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Chicago Bears)
Of course I’m also starting Mike Evans, but that’s no fun when you don’t have any other options to talk about. So, with that given I’m shifting focus on the other half of the field. If Chris Godwin was playing, I’d say he got the start, but he’s not, so Scotty Miller comes in and saves the day yet again.
I completely slept on Miller last week. I’ve said it before, as an analyst you can never be right all the time. The analysis was sound and I’m sticking with my prediction prior to last week’s game, but I won’t make that same mistake twice.
Miller raked in 19 FPTS last week on 83 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. He’ll have a very similar game and be just as effective as I believe Brady will be forced to the air. Plus, they have really good chemistry. The way things are shaking out, Evans could likely draw the double team, leaving Miller wide open on any route.
Sit: Anthony Miller (WR55), Chicago Bears (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Don’t let week’s 1 and 2 convince you that Anthony Miller is a receiving option you should lean on. If you are looking really deep and you’re desperate, and you have injuries then maybe......sure. The funny thing is I don’t think I would’ve ever thought that Guyton and Johnson from LA would get involved too.
The Bucs secondary has a lot to make up for coming out of a very disappointing coverage performance in week 4 against the Chargers. Bowles will make damn sure that never happens again. Allen Robinson II will get most of the attention, but the Bucs 3-4 defense, with a free and strong safety, should provide the necessary coverage to shut down any receiving option for Foles and the Bears.
Start: Rob Gronkowsi (TE36), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Chicago Bears)
This may be more of a sleeper pick than a must start for me, but eventually Gronk has to be fantasy relevant again, right? McCoy, Fournette, Watson and Howard are all out with injuries. Those are the key guys the Bucs want to see on the slant, short 5 and out/in, screens and fade passes. Gronk will need to step up and fill those gaps. He needs to get himself into open field and I refuse to sleep on Gronk and his abilities to catch the ball.
I’m giving Gronkowski 60 yards passing on 4 receptions and 1 touchdown in week 5 against the Chicago Bears. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I have every reason to believe that he’s primed for a great fantasy match this week.
Sit: Cameron Brate (TE60), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Chicago Bears)
So, many of you are saying this is a no-brainer sit. Some owners may actually be giving this a raised eyebrow. So, let’s break it down. O.J. Howard is on the IR and out for the season. The Bucs have moved to a 12 personnel scheme since week 1 and have consistently stayed there. This means that Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate are the Bucs starters.
Cameron Brate got involved against the Chargers with 1 catch for 3 yards, but it was a touchdown. So, in that sense many fantasy owners might be side-eyeing Brate as a viable sleeper option to carry them down the stretch.
Owners may also be looking to get themselves out of the jam they’re in with Noah Fant expected to be out, Jared Cook or Darren Waller with their injury designation heading into this week and beyond.
Bye weeks have started, so you’ll be looking to the waiver wire for solid tight end and Flex options. I would put more relevance on Gronk, given Brady’s history with him, but he’s likely one of the biggest sleepers in the league right now with the injuries the Bucs have. No one has him right now with him only being on 1% of rosters. He might be worth stashing him for your fantasy playoff run, but definitely a sit until he proves a consistent connection with Brady.