The Worksheet, a comprehensive fantasy football preview by Rich Hribar, breaks down everything you need to know about the Wild Card matchup between the Eagles and Bucs.
Find a breakdown of every Wild Card NFL game in our Worksheet Hub.
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|Opp. Pass %
Against the Spread
- Eagles: 7-8-2
- Buccaneers: 11-6
- Bucs ATS at Home: 3-5
- Eagles ATS Away: 4-4-1
- Eagles ATS as Favorite: 6-6-2
- Bucs ATS as Underdog: 8-3
The Eagles were riding high at 10-1 in the NFC, coming off three straight wins against the Cowboys, Chiefs, and Bills.
Things have deteriorated since, with the Eagles losing five of their past six games. Just one of those losses came against a team that made the postseason.
While they have collapsed in the win-loss column, the Eagles were toeing the line of losses prior, winning five games that they trailed at the half as part of their 10-1 start.
Over that six-game span to close the season, the Eagles averaged 1.88 points per drive (16th) and scored a touchdown on just 19.0% of their possessions (21st).
To compound matters, they turned the ball over on a league-high 19.0% of their possessions over that span.
Before that stretch, the Eagles had averaged 2.53 points per drive (fourth), scored a touchdown on 29.4% (third), and turned the ball over on 13.4% (20th) of their drives.
While the Philadelphia offense has struggled to close the season, their defense has been a consistent issue compared to their 2022 output.
After allowing a league-low 4.8 yards per play and 1.78 points per drive (11th) in 2022, the Eagles have allowed 5.5 yards per play (24th) and 2.36 points per drive (30th) this season.
As bad as it has gone for the Eagles to close the year, they did still end the season with a 6-2 record against 2023 playoff teams, tied for the most wins against playoff teams.
That includes beating the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
We will see who Philadelphia ends up having available for this game, but this is our third rematch from the regular season in the opening round.
The Eagles went into Tampa Bay all of the way back in Week 3, winning 25-11.
Philadelphia led that game 13-3 at the half and 25-3 with 13 minutes left to go in the game.
We highlighted the issues that Philadelphia has had defensively this season, but in that game, the Buccaneers posted a season-low 174 total yards of offense.
The Buccaneers were one of the biggest surprises of the season, winning their third consecutive NFC South Title.
For the second season in a row, they will host the No. 2 team in the NFC East on Monday night of the opening round.
Tampa Bay led for only 33.8% of their offensive snaps this season, 17th in the league and the lowest rate of any NFC team in the playoffs.
Only Pittsburgh led for a lower rate (25.9%) of snaps among 2023 playoff teams.
The Buccaneers were 3-7 against teams with a winning record this season and 1-5 against 2023 playoff teams. Their one win came against the Packers.
52.3% of Tampa Bay’s set of downs have reached third down, 30th in the NFL this season. The only teams with a worse rate were the Panthers (55.9%) and Giants (57.3%).
Tampa Bay is 20th in early down dropback rate (53.0%) despite ranking dead last in early-down rushing yards per play (3.2 yards).
This game also has some early-week weather concerns to make it a sweep for the outdoor games this week.
Outside of potential rain storms forecasted, there are also early wind projections that could impact things.
This game has the second-lowest game total (43.5 points) of the opening round. That is something to follow into Monday night.
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Jalen Hurts: There was universal regression for the entire Philadelphia offense, but everything starts with the quarterback.
After throwing for 8.0 yards per pass attempt, 12.1 yards per completion, and 246.7 passing yards per game in 2022, Hurts averaged 7.2 Y/A, 11.0 yards per completion, and 226.9 passing yards per game in 2023.
His touchdown rate dipped from 4.8% down to 4.3%, which was modest, but his interception rate spiked from 1.3% a year ago up to 2.8% this season.
Hurts also had a decline in rushing output.
After rushing for 50.7 yards per game in 2022, he rushed for 35.6 yards per game this season.
The one area he held strong was with 15 rushing touchdowns, giving him double-digit rushing scores in three straight seasons.
Those rushing scores were a lifeline for fantasy.
Hurts only had two weeks all season in which he played a full game and was not a QB1 performer.
He has thrown multiple touchdown passes in just two of his past seven full games but has still averaged 21.5 fantasy points per game over that stretch.
Hurts left Week 18 with a finger injury on his throwing hand.
That paired with this offense working without A.J. Brown places added volatility and reduced excitement on this passing game snapping out of its funk.
That said, if those things all trend positively heading into Monday night, this is not a matchup we have run from this season.
In total, this is a spot we have targeted for production for fantasy.
Tampa Bay allowed 14.8 passing points per game (23rd) and 7.5 yards per pass attempt (25th).
They also allowed 3.5 rushing points per game to quarterbacks, which was 22nd.
That includes when these teams played back in Week 3.
Hurts threw two interceptions and only rushed for 28 yards in that game, but he had a rushing touchdown and threw for 277 yards and a touchdown through the air to propel him to 19.9 fantasy points.
Tampa Bay does have a wrinkle to throw off Hurts that has been consistent this season.
The Bucs blitzed Hurts on 57.5% of his dropbacks in their first matchup.
The only team that blitzed him at a higher rate this season was the Giants.
When blitzed that night, Hurts was 13-of-21 for 152 yards with no touchdowns and both of his interceptions.
For the season, Hurts had a 3.3% touchdown rate (25th) and a league-high 4.4% interception rate when blitzed.
When Hurts was blitzed this season, his 75.2 rating was 30th in the NFL, ahead of only Bryce Young (69.7) and Trevor Lawrence (62.4).
Hurts was 20th in EPA per dropback against the blitz (-0.02)
When Hurts was not blitzed, he was 12th in the league in rating (96.3) and seventh in EPA per dropback (0.11), posting a 4.8% touchdown rate (eighth) and a 2.0% interception rate (13th).
Baker Mayfield: Mayfield had a resurgent season with the Buccaneers.
After throwing 27 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions over 26 appearances the previous two seasons with the Browns, Panthers, and Rams, Mayfield threw 28 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions this season.
His 4,044 passing yards were a career high.
Mayfield does enter the playoffs banged up. Dealing with a rib injury, we have seen Mayfield’s play be impacted.
In Week 18, he threw for a season-low 4.3 yards per pass attempt and 137 passing yards.
It was just his second game all season without a passing touchdown.
Mayfield did not fare well when these teams played early in the season.
In that game, he threw for just 146 yards, his fewest yards in a game outside of last week’s output.
That was an outlier for this Philadelphia defense. It was the fewest passing yards they allowed in a game this season.
Even with that game counted in, they allowed 267.7 passing yards per game, which was 28th in the league.
Paired with a 5.4% touchdown rate (30th), the Eagles ranked 31st in the league in passing points allowed per game (18.2).
Mayfield takes a step of faith in showdown slates and large-field tournaments due to his injury, performance in this matchup in Week 3, and the potential weather here, but the larger signal from the season suggests that the Buccaneers will throw the ball better in this rematch if the rain and wind have minimal impact.
Rachaad White: White was one of the better volume-based, workhorse backs in the NFL this season.
White handled 336 touches on the season, second to only Christian McCaffrey.
He turned that volume into 1,539 yards and 10 touchdowns.
White handled 75.6% of the backfield runs (second in the NFL) and 76.0% of the backfield touches (third), which made up for some lackluster moments of inefficiency per touch.
As a runner, White had a 26.1% success rate, last among 23 running backs with 200 or more rushes on the season. That rate ranked 47th out of 49 backs with 100 or more runs.
White made up ground through the air.
He was third among running backs with 549 receiving yards and fourth with 64 receptions.
When these teams played in Week 3, White rushed 14 times for 38 yards (2.7 YPC), catching three passes for 24 yards.
The Philadelphia defense has gone in a different direction since these teams met.
Philadelphia has allowed 144.3 total yards per game to running backs since their Week 10 bye after allowing 82.2 total yards per game to backfields over their opening nine games this season.
D’Andre Swift: Swift missed week 18 with an illness but is expected to play this Monday night.
We will surely see Kenneth Gainwell in his ancillary role as a rusher and passing-down back in two- and four-minute situations.
Swift had his first 1,000-yard rushing season this year, posting career-highs with 1,049 yards rushing and 229 carries.
Before the offseason, there were concerns about how Swift would be used as a pass catcher in this offense and those ended up valid.
Despite a career year on the ground, Swift posted career lows with 2.4 receptions for 13.4 yards receiving per game.
For fantasy, that lack of receiving output made it difficult for Swift to keep his floor high enough since he was also thwarted regularly at the goal line this season in favor of the Tush Push.
Swift was tackled six times at the one-yard line this season and did not get a touchdown afterward.
The Eagles had 13 rushes from the one-yard line this season. Jalen Hurts had all 13.
Those two elements forced Swift to live on rushing efficiency and longer touchdowns for fantasy, a tough ask.
That was not an issue when these teams played in Week 3.
In that game, Swift rushed 16 times for 130 yards. That 8.1 yards per carry was a season-high, anchored by runs of 29 and 26 yards.
Swift had four runs of 10 or more yards in that game.
That was an outlier for this Tampa Bay defense, who allowed just one other 100-yard rusher over the remainder of the season.
Even with Swift’s big game factored in, Tampa Bay allowed 3.9 yards per carry (ninth) and 9.9 rushing points per game (fifth) to opposing backfields.
DeVonta Smith: Smith missed Week 18 due to an ankle injury, but he has practiced in full during the week and is set to play on Monday Night.
He will operate as the lead wideout in this offense with A.J. Brown sidelined.
On the small sample (64 routes) with Brown off the field the past two seasons, Smith has seen his opportunity spike to getting targeted on 28.1% of his routes run with 29.0% of the team target share.
Smith only caught 4-of-5 targets for 28 yards when these teams played in Week 3, taking a backseat to Brown.
Smith does play 74.6% of his snaps on the outside, which would still give him access to the part of the Tampa Bay defense that we have targeted for wide receiver play.
Tampa Bay is 23rd in points allowed per game to opposing WR1 targets (16.7).
The Bucs have allowed 9.0 yards per target (24th) and a 4.4% touchdown rate (18th) to outside wide receivers.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin: Evans was one of the better values of the season this summer.
He ended up catching 79-of-136 targets for 1,255 yards while leading the NFL with 13 touchdowns.
His 15.9 yards per catch was his highest rate in a season since 2019.
While Evans controlled the target tree for Tampa Bay for nearly the entire season, we did see things flip over the final five games.
After Evans had 26.1% of the team targets and a target on 27.5% of his routes run before that point of the season, he had 21.3% of the targets and a target on 20.4% of his routes run after.
Over that span, Godwin came on strong, receiving 29.0% of the team targets with a target on 28.1% of his routes.
Godwin had more receiving yards than Evans in just three of the first 12 games this season. He has outgained him in four of the past five games.
That lines up with Dave Canales being vocal about getting Godwin more opportunities and Godwin’s wife firing shots at the offense on social media.
Evans still had three touchdowns to one for Godwin over that span, but this has largely been an either/or split, which makes things tough on gamers.
Just one time all season were both Evans and Godwin top-24 scorers in the same week.
If playing solely for upside or touchdown equity, Evans did have six of the eight WR1 scoring weeks from this duo.
Evans has 20 end zone targets (third in the NFL) while Godwin has 10.
Given how things went in the first game between these two teams, it should be no surprise that neither Evans nor Godwin flourished.
Evans caught 5-of-10 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown while Godwin collected 3-of-5 targets for 32 yards and a two-point conversion.
Even factoring in variance here due to Mayfield’s injury and the potential weather, I would expect more opportunity for these wideouts since that night was an outlier for this Philadelphia defense.
The Eagles faced the most targets per game (23.9) to wide receivers this season.
As a byproduct, they allowed a league-high 15.1 receptions per game to wideouts for 183.8 yards per game (31st).
Not just volume-driven, the Eagles also allowed a 6.6% touchdown rate to wide receivers, 31st in the league.
Trey Palmer: If you want to make an aggressive play on those numbers above and take a flyer, Palmer has run a route on 71.6% of the Tampa Bay dropbacks.
He is averaging 10.8 air yards per target and is second on the team in deep targets.
The Eagles have allowed a 41.5% completion rate (23rd) and seven touchdowns (tied for 29th) to wide receivers on throws 20 or more yards downfield.
Eagles WRs: All of Quez Watkins, Olamide Zacchaeus, and Julio Jones get a bump with A.J. Brown ruled out, but all are touchdown-dependent fantasy plays.
I would only throw darts on these wideouts in Monday Night showdown lineups as opposed to other playoff formats or DFS slates.
Jones still only plays in specific packages and in the red zone.
Watkins was operating as the fill-in for DeVonta Smith in Week 18, so we could see him slide into Brown’s snaps.
Outside of Week 18, the only Philly wide receiver to top 35 receiving yards in a game was Zacchaeus.
If you want to chase that, it did come against the Bucs in Week 3 when he caught a 34-yard touchdown as part of a 58-yard outing.
Dallas Goedert: It has been a disappointing season for Goedert.
His 10.0 yards per catch were a career-low.
His 4.2 catches per game were his fewest in a season since 2021.
His 42.3 yards per game were his fewest in a season since 2019.
He also only had three touchdowns.
Goedert caught 5-of-7 targets for 41 yards when these played in Week 3.
All of that said, there is an outcome in which Goedert is the healthiest pass catcher among the core assets in this passing game on Monday.
Goedert is second on the team in targets when Hurts has been blitzed, and the Bucs have had their issues with tight ends, opening up a path for Goedert here.
Opponents have targeted their tight ends on 26.1% of their throws against Tampa, third in the league.
As a result. Tampa Bay has allowed 6.0 receptions per game to tight ends (30th).
Tight ends have 20.6% of the touchdown catches against the Bucs, sixth highest in the league.
Cade Otton: We know Otton is going to be on the field.
Otton has played the most snaps (1,064) out of all tight ends in the NFL this season, 96.5% of the Tampa Bay snaps.
Unfortunately, he was still just 21st among tight ends in targets (67) on the season, catching 47 passes for 455 yards and four touchdowns.
Otton reached 50 yards receiving in just one game this season.
He caught 1-of-2 targets for 16 yards when these teams played in Week 3.
If you want to still chase targets finding Otton here, the Eagles have allowed a 75.4% catch rate (28th) and a 5.1% touchdown rate (21st) on targets to tight ends.