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Thursday Night Football Primer & Start/Sit Advice: Buccaneers vs. Ravens (Week 8)

Every week, I’ll be writing a comprehensive primer on every NFL matchup and all of the relevant players, matchups, pace and playcalling notes, and injuries. It covers everything you need to know when setting your lineups. But since that article is massive and requires a full pot of coffee, we’re also going to offer these more focused matchup overviews to help you prepare for Thursday Night Football.

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Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pace and playcalling notes

  • Each team’s offensive plan is well known. The Ravens love to slow the pace down (30th) in close games, while the Buccaneers are sprinters (seventh in neutral pace).
  • The Ravens remain a run-based offense (sixth in neutral rushing rate), while Tampa Bay remains pass-heavy (fifth in neutral passing rate).
  • The Buccaneers are also third in red zone passing rate.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson: Since Week 5, the Buccaneers’ pass defense has shown some cracks. Over the last three games, they are 15th in pass defense DVOA. Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, and P.J. Walker completed 66.1% of their passes with 7.9 yards per attempt and a 4:0 passing touchdown to interception ratio. This could be a quiet bounce-back spot for the struggling Jackson. Since Week 4, he’s been the QB16 in fantasy points per game, with his passing metrics falling into the toilet. Over that span, he’s 31st in PFF passing grade, 33rd in yards per attempt, 17th in big-time throw rate, and 26th in adjusted completion rate (minimum 50 dropbacks). Jackson remains a QB1.

Tom Brady: Brady’s real-life quarterback play and his fantasy production haven’t matched up. The Buccaneers offense has been a tick-off all season with injuries and missed opportunities. Brady is seventh in PFF passing grade, tenth in big-time throw rate, 19th in adjusted completion rate, and holds the third-lowest turnover-worthy play rate (minimum 50 dropbacks). These numbers don’t line up with a quarterback that’s QB22 in fantasy points per game. Since Week 5, the Ravens have been a much improved secondary, ranking 13th in pass defense DVOA with the 14th-lowest yards per attempt allowed. They are, however, 17th in DVOA against deep passing. Brady is third in PFF deep passing grade and ninth in deep ball accuracy rating, but he’s also 26th in deep adjusted completion rate. These metrics scream that deep ball regression is coming. Is it in Week 8? Possible. Brady remains a QB1 despite his lackluster fantasy numbers and the tough-on-paper matchup.

Running Backs

Week 7

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Gus Edwards 38.1% 6.2% 3
Justice Hill 11.9% 35% 0
Kenyan Drake 26.2% 6.2% 15% 2

 

Gus Edwards: Ok. Edwards looked good in his first game action of the 2022 season. He played 36% of the snaps with 16 carries for 66 yards and two scores. Among 75 running backs with at least 15 carries, he ranks 59th in yards after contact per attempt and 45th in PFF’s elusive rating, so let’s not get carried away. Edwards also saw competition for red zone touches with Kenyan Drake and didn’t run a route in Week 7. Tampa Bay is a beatable defense on the ground. Since Week 4, they rank 24th in rushing yards per game, 27th in EPA per rush, and 16th in explosive run rate allowed. Edwards is a game script dependent RB3.

Justice Hill: Hill played 31% of the snaps with five rushes for 26 yards (zero targets). He ran the most routes among the running backs with a 35% rate. Without a red zone role and on a team that doesn’t utilize their backs in the passing game, Hill is best left to the waiver wire.

Kenyan Drake: The Drake waiver frenzy and hope lasted about half of a week. Drake played 27% of the snaps turning his 11 carries into five rushing yards. Drake challenged Edwards in the red zone in Week 7 with one less touch, but that could easily flip more in Edwards’ favor in Week 8. Drake is a low-end stash only. He’s not worth considering for your lineup, even in the deepest of leagues.

Week 7

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Leonard Fournette 50% 6.2% 47.1% 0
Rachaad White 37.5% 4.2% 39.2% 0

 

Weeks 4-7

Player % of Rushing attempts Target share Route Run % Red zone opportunities
Leonard Fournette 67.6% 14.4% 54.5% 10
Rachaad White 26.5% 8% 34.3% 4

 

Leonard Fournette: Fournette is still rocking along as the RB8 in fantasy points per game. Since White’s inclusion in the backfield rotation (Week 4), Fournette has averaged 17.8 touches and 80.1 total yards. He’s also seen less than 15 touches in two of his last four games. His snaps have hovered in the 60-62% range in three of his last four games. Fournette could be headed for a bounceback week against Baltimore, but there are concerns. The Ravens have allowed the 11th-fewest rushing yards, but they have also faced the sixth-fewest rushing attempts. Baltimore can be run on, as they have allowed the fifth-highest yards per carry. The Ravens are also 24th in adjusted line yards and second-level yards allowed. The biggest worry for Fournette is that his offensive line has been terrible, ranking 28th or lower in adjusted line yards, second-level yards, and open field yards. Another worrisome factor for Fournette is that he hasn’t been particularly elusive. Among 58 running backs with 25 or more carries, he ranks 55th in yards after contact per attempt, 47th in breakaway run rate, and 48th in PFF’s elusive rating. His heavy Target share in the Bucs’ offense could help save him, though, as Baltimore has given up the third-most receptions and receiving yards to running backs. Fournette remains an RB1.

Rachaad White: White played a season-high 43% of snaps in Week 7. While he did see a season-high six carries last week was the first game since Week 3 in which he didn’t have at least four targets through the air. Since Week 4, White has averaged 35% of the snaps with 7.5 touches and 38.3 total yards. His value as a touchdown or bust low-end PPR flex is found through the passing game because he’s still among the worst rushers in the league. Among the same sample of backs as Fournette, the only player with a lower yards after contact per attempt is Kenyan Drake. With his 26 rushing attempts, White has only managed one run of ten or more yards, and he still hasn’t recorded a breakaway run.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans: Evans is the WR11 in fantasy points per game. He has garnered a 19% Target share with 33.2% of the team’s air yards. Evans is 19th in PFF receiving grade and 23rd in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). He leads Tampa Bay with a 41.7% end zone Target share. Evans is a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 who will run about 72% of his routes against Marlon Humphrey (71% catch rate, 57.5 passer rating) and Marcus Peters (64.5% catch rate, 92.5 passer rating). The matchup this week against the Ravens’ outside corners is no joke, but it’s impossible to bench Evans with his downfield role (leads the team in deep targets) and touchdown equity in the Bucs offense.

Chris Godwin: In the three games Godwin has played at least 80% of the snaps this season, he has seen a 26.1% Target share with 29.1% of the team’s air yards. In those three games, he has logged at least ten targets and seven receptions in each outing. Godwin is 26th in PFF receiving grade and 35th in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets). Godwin will run about 73% of his routes in the slot against Damarion Williams (74.1% catch rate, 135.3 passer rating). Williams is the weak link in the Baltimore secondary. Expect Brady to zero in on it and pepper Godwin with another ten-plus target game. Godwin is a top-ten wide receiver.

Russell Gage: Gage has been ruled out. 

Julio JonesJones has been listed as a game-time decision. I doubt he plays, but if he does, he still isn’t worth starting. Jones could easily be a part-time player splitting routes with Scotty Miller.

Rashod Bateman: Last week, Bateman returned to the lineup, and while his 56% snap rate doesn’t look impressive, he saw a 75% route run rate, so Baltimore was utilizing him on passing plays and not in meaningless run-blocking situations. In the four games in which Bateman has played at least 50% of the snaps, he’s seen a 20.8% Target share with a 67.1 PFF receiving grade and 3.01 yards per route run. Among wide receivers with 15 or more targets, that would place him 51st in PFF receiving grades and second in yards per route run. Bateman is a WR3 that’ll run about 85% of his routes against Jamel Dean (48.5% catch rate, 49.9 passer rating) and Zyon McCollum (80% catch rate, 147.9 passer rating). Monitor Bateman’s practice reports. If he misses this game, Duvernay’s outlook will change. 

Devin Duvernay: In the four games, Bateman has played close to a full complement of passing down snaps, Duvernay has faded into the background with a 10.9% Target share averaging 40.8 receiving yards. In a low-volume passing offense, Duvernay is nothing more than a WR4/5 who will run about 61% of his routes on the perimeter against Dean and McCollum.

Tight Ends

Cade Otton: Cameron Brate has been ruled out. Otton will be the full-time tight end in Week 8. In the two games he’s been in the starter’s chair, he’s played at least 81% of the snaps with a 12.2% Target share and 83.5% route run rate. He averaged six targets, five receptions, and 53.5 receiving yards as the TE10 and TE12 in fantasy scoring. Baltimore is 24th in DVOA against tight ends allowing the highest catch rate and fourth-most receiving touchdowns to the position. If Otton draws the start, he’s a TE1.

Mark Andrews: Andrews leads all tight ends in Target share (31.6%), endzone targets per game, and weighted opportunity. He’s second in receiving yards per game and third in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets). Tampa Bay might be 14th in DVOA against tight ends, but they have surrendered the ninth-highest catch rate and 11th-most receiving yards per game. Andrews is a top-two tight-end option weekly. Monitor Andrews’ practice reports this week as he didn’t practice on Tuesday (ankle). If Andrews misses this game, Isaiah Likely would enter the streaming / low-end TE1 conversation in Week 8.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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*All data utilized in this article courtesy of FantasyPros, PFF, SharpFootball Stats, Football Outsiders, FTN, Rotoviz, and Playerprofiler.com unless otherwise specified.*

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