A Love/Brate Relationship

Staring at the standings on FantasyDraft can be a bit nerve-racking if sitting just slightly inside or outside the cash line of a contest but owning players from this game should ease those concerns. Assuming you find yourself in a situation where tonight’s game can make or break the weekend, here are my projections for the game tonight that will help make your likely fate abundantly more clear:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Quarterbacks: Cam Newton has been deemed inactive for tonight’s tilt so Derek Anderson will take over the starting QB duties for the Panthers tonight. Last week, Anderson proved he could fill-in at a high level as he completed 17-23 passes (73.9-percent completion) en route to two passing TDs and 14.90 fantasy points in just around a half of football. Now he’ll square off against a Buccaneers team allowing the sixth most fantasy points per game to the position including 2.25 passing TDs allowed per contest. The question is can Anderson sustain last week’s level of production over a full 48 minutes and that remains to be seen. On the other side, Jameis Winston is coming off a stretch where he has failed to produce at least 14 fantasy points in two of his last three contests. The injury to Doug Martin cannot be helping and is continuing to put more pressure on him to make all the plays. As if that weren’t enough, now Charles Sims will miss Monday’s contest as well so the team will be stuck with Jacquizz Rodgers trying to establish a running game. The team’s only hope is for Winston to take to the air and Matt Ryan certainly proved that was doable against this Panthers defense last week. However, Ryan benefitted from a duo of adequate backs alleviating the pressure in the secondary. Winston will not benefit from that same principle so it should be more of a struggle for him. With that being said, Winston’s ability to scramble should help and positive regression is on the horizon. Projections: Jameis Winston 20 fantasy points, Derek Anderson 19 fantasy points

Running Backs: According to Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, he is “extremely” confident Jacquizz Rodgers will be able to handle the load in this contest. To this point, Rodgers has only touched the ball 15 times. While his yards per carry (YPC) total is solid (5.3), it remains to be seen whether it can continue with an uptick in volume. The Panthers rank ninth best in terms of yards per game allowed to opposing backs (90.3) and only three teams have allowed fewer YPC (3.5). In other words, this is a tall task for Rodgers who will no doubt be spelled by Peyton Barber at times as well. On the Carolina side, Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker have turned into a game-flow dependent RB-by-committee. For fantasy purposes, this is one of the most dreaded circumstances possible. Last game, Artis-Payne led the team with nine carries but Whittaker led the backfield with 12 touches and caught 9-9 targets. The reason he led the backfield in touches (and RECs) was because the team fell behind early. Had the result been different, Artis-Payne easily could have led. Vegas lists the Panthers as 5.5 point underdogs so there is a decent chance the team gets behind once again. Therefore, Whittaker is the slightly preferred play although rostering either is an incredibly risky proposition. Projections: Jacquizz Rodgers 14 fantasy points, Fozzy Whittaker 10 fantasy points and Cameron Artis-Payne seven fantasy points

Wide Receivers: Kelvin Benjamin’s level of volatility has been concerning as his catch total has fluttered all over the place: six, seven, zero and three in his four games respectively. Tonight, Benjamin’s matchup projects as the largest individual advantage as any receiver in the game, per Pro Football Focus. He did reel in a TD catch last week but fell victim to a subpar 42.9-percent catch rate. With the backup QB under center, his projection should be tempered a bit. He has only been targeted seven times in the last two games but positive regression should be on the horizon. Notably, Corey Brown was targeted seven times last week and appears to be a favorite target of Anderson’s. A close eye should be kept on him tonight and he could actually prove to be a sneaky play. Regardless of individual matchups, Mike Evans is the most enticing fantasy prospect in the entire game after watching Julio Jones torch this very defense for 300-plus yards last week. If the Buccaneers aren’t taking notice then they do not deserve to win. Without Josh Norman, number one WRs should run free, and Evans is easily my top projected scorer in this game. Sure Vincent Jackson has been targeted at least five times in every game this season but he’s nothing more than a low-end FLEX option as per usual. Projections: Mike Evans 24 fantasy points, Kelvin Benjamin 16 fantasy points, Corey Brown 12 fantasy points and Vincent Jackson eight fantasy points

Tight Ends: Heading into Week 5, no TE had averaged more fantasy points per game than Greg Olsen. Frustratingly, Olsen was held to zero catches one four targets heading into the fourth quarter in Week 4 and yet finished with six RECs for 76 yards and a TD. If there is one position the Buccaneers defend well, it is TEs; they have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to the position including just 115 receiving yards and zero TDs. Olsen is one of the best in the business but his expectations still need to be tempered. After cutting Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate has quietly developed into a fantasy-relevant option. Hell, he has been targeted a whopping 18 times in his past two games and that has led to 10 RECs, 113 yards and two TDs during that span. The huge increase in involvement has led to at least 11.70 fantasy points in his last two games and he has been targeted on 100-percent of the team’s red zone targets during that span. Okay, so there has only been one red zone target to be had but it’s still worth noting the look went to Brate. Volume of that level cannot be overlooked, especially at Brate’s ultra-affordable $5,600 price tag on FantasyDraft, so he can be started with confidence as a low-end TE1. Projections: Greg Olsen 13 fantasy points, Cameron Brate 13 fantasy points

Defense: No team has allowed opposing defenses to score more fantasy points against them than the Buccaneers. Jameis Winston has been sacked 10 times, thrown eight INTs, the team has lost three fumbles and opposing defenses have scored two TDs against them. Therefore, Carolina easily projects as the superior defensive play. With that being said, the Panthers do not rank far behind the Buccaneers in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. Cam Newton, Derek Anderson and company have been sacked 13 times, thrown seven INTs, coughed up three fumbles, have surrendered a safety, allowed a defensive TD and allowed a return TD. Other than Mike Evans, the defenses are the best fantasy-relevant investments in this contest. Projections: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 fantasy points, Carolina Panthers 14 fantasy points

Final Score Projection: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Carolina Panthers 14

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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