The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Wild Card Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon game.
|42.57%||20||Opp. Rush %||33.49%||1|
|57.43%||13||Opp. Pass %||66.51%||32|
Against the Spread
Buccaneers ATS at Home: 6-2
Eagles ATS Away: 5-4
Buccaneers ATS as Favorite: 9-8
Eagles ATS as Underdog: 3-5
The defending Super Bowl champs enter the postseason fighting through a number of injuries, but they still closed the year with a 13-4 record while ranking second in points scored and fifth in points allowed.
The Eagles started their first season under Nick Sirianni 3-6, but then won six of their next seven games to lock up a playoff spot with a week to go in the season before largely resting everyone a week ago. Those six wins came against the Broncos, Saints, Jets, Football Teams (x2), and the Giants, so this is a huge litmus test to see how far the Eagles have come since losing to the Buccaneers 28-22 in Week 6, a game they trailed 28-7 with six minutes left in the third quarter. The Eagles were 1-7 (.125) against teams with a winning record in 2021, the worst winning percentage in the NFL.
This game features the team that relies on rushing yardage the most versus the team that relies on passing the most. 44.4% of the yardage gained by the Eagles has come via the ground, the highest rate in the league while 75.8% of the yardage gained by Tampa Bay has come through the air, the highest rate in the league.
Since these teams played in Week 6, the Eagles have a much different identity. From Weeks 1-6, the Eagles had a 58% pass rate. From that game to the end of the season, their pass rate was just 38%, the lowest in the NFL. The Buccaneers were third in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed (92.5 yards per game), but also were aided by facing the fewest runs and lowest run rate in the league. Since their Week 9, Tampa Bay was 16th in EPA allowed per rushing attempt and 15th in success rate allowed per carry.
From a negative play stance, this game features two of the best teams in the league. The Buccaneers allowed a league-low 2.5 sacks plus turnovers per game while the Eagles allowed 2.8 per game, which was second. Philadelphia will need to sustain the latter as Tampa Bay forced 4.5 sacks plus turnovers per game, which was second in the league. The Eagles, however, ranked 30th in the league at 2.7 per game, the fewest among all of the teams to make the playoffs.
Tom Brady: Brady wrapped up another stellar season at age 44, leading the league in completions (485), attempts (719), passing yards (5,316), and passing touchdowns (43). Even with a rotating receiver room and slow start in Week 18, Brady finished strong with 25.0 fantasy points and 8.8 yards per pass attempt against Carolina in Week 18, a team that limited him 232 yards and one score two weeks prior.
Brady completed 34-of-42 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (17.9 points) when these teams met in Week 6. Brady had both Antonio Brown (9-93-1) and Chris Godwin (5-43-0) available for that game, but he did not have Rob Gronkowski.
The Eagles live to bend but not break defensively. They rarely blitz (31st in the league at 16.4%), play zone 71.2% of the time (ninth), and just try to limit big plays the best they can. Philadelphia allowed a completion of 20-plus yards on just 9.3% of completion, the lowest rate in the league. They also face the league’s lowest depth of target (6.4 yards) due to their style of defense. When these teams played in Week 6, Brady had a season-low depth of target of 5.6 yards, completing 3-of-8 passes on throws 15 yards or further downfield.
The production the Eagles allowed is also a partial byproduct of their schedule. They played just five games this season against passers in the top-12 in points per game, facing Dak Prescott (20.1 and 31.8 points), Brady (17.9 points), Patrick Mahomes (31.7 points), and Justin Herbert (31.6 points). At home attached to a high team total against a passive defense, Brady should run an efficient intermediate passing attack on Sunday.
Jalen Hurts: Hurts closed his first season as a starter by producing a league-high 11 QB1 scoring games for fantasy. Just one of those came over his final four games of the season and he hit 20 fantasy points in just two of his final eight games played after scoring 20-plus points in each of his opening seven games.
Hurts had one of his worst passing games of the season against the Bucs in Week 6, completing 12-of-26 passes (46.2%) for 115 yards (4.4 Y/A), with a touchdown and an interception. The Bucs pressured Hurts on a league-high 54.5% of his dropbacks in Week 6, with Hurts completing 4-of-13 passes for 57 yards under pressure. Despite that, he still managed to post 25.0 fantasy points on the strength of 44 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.
Tampa Bay allowed 23.5 rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks (29th), allowing Hurts (44 yards), Josh Allen (109), Cam Newton (42), Jameis Winston (40), Justin Fields (38), and Taysom Hill (33) all to clear that average. Hurts will need that rushing anchor here based on his early-season passing performance against the Bucs and Tampa Bay allowing 0.36 passing points per attempt, sixth in the league.
Buccaneers RBs: With both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones out Sunday, the Bucs will roll out a combination of Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Giovani Bernard, and Le’Veon Bell to handle backfield duties. Vaughn projects to handle early-down opportunities. Vaughn handled 10-of-17 backfield carries in Week 18 with Jones inactive, but he ran a pass route on just 30% of the team dropbacks. With Bernard back and Bell available, we should expect both of those backs to limit Vaughn’s receiving upside. Vaughn has also been largely ineffective with his touches, rushing 18 times for 60 yards the past two games.
The Eagles are an advantageous matchup for this backfield in bulk, having allowed 14.3 rushing points (21st) and 11.8 receiving points (26th) to backfields during the season. Attached to a home favorite with a high team total, there is production to be had here, but the injuries across the board prevent a standout back. We are hoping Vaughn lands in the end zone and gets enough rushing touches to carry his total, while both Bernard and Bell can cannibalize each other to a degree in the passing game.
Eagles RBs: The Eagles are “hopeful” that Miles Sanders will return this week after suffering a broken hand in Week 16, but this is a sum of all parts running attack regardless, which includes Hurts. The Eagles have faced some strong run defenses in New Orleans (242 yards) and Washington (238 and 118 yards) over this stretch to end the season while running for over 100 yards in 13 straight games.
A huge part is because of the scheme and Hurts. The Eagles led the NFL in rushes (136), yards (736), and touchdowns (six) on RPO runs while their running backs also rank first on those runs in carries (88), yards (421), and scores (four) rushing.
The downside is that even if Sanders plays, we have an all hands on deck situation where we likely see all of Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott get work. Sanders had 27 and 20 touches in his previous two games prior to injury, but he would take a step of faith to handle that much work here. The Buccaneers are also 31st in receiving points allowed per game to backs (13.2) if they wanted to incorporate Kenneth Gainwell, but we have not seen the Eagles involve their backs heavily through the air this season.
Mike Evans: Evans snagged 6-of-7 targets for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season finale, closing the year with 14 touchdowns and his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. With all of the injuries to the Tampa Bay wideouts, Evans is locked in as the feature option at the position, but Brady does not have to force things to him. Even last week, Evans accounted for a modest 18.4% of the targets.
Evans has scoring potential that rivals all wide receivers, but this will be a test for him to stack yards since the Eagles will surely throw Darius Slay at him. Opposing WR1 options averaged 11.2 points per game against the Eagles this season (third-fewest). Tyreek Hill had three of the four touchdowns those wideouts scored on the season against the Eagles while only Hill (186) and Deebo Samuel (93) posted more than 79 yards receiving.
We have seen Evans be susceptible to shadow coverage multiple times throughout his career, and especially this season to Trevon Diggs, Marshon Lattimore, and the first time these teams played. Evans caught just 2-of-4 targets for 27 yards with Slay shadowing him. Evans has just one other game versus Slay on his resume, catching 2-of-5 targets for 25 yards when they squared off in 2017.
DeVonta Smith: Smith had a strong rookie campaign for the Eagles, posting a 64-916-5 line on 104 targets. The biggest thorn for Smith has been overall passing volume for the team. Due to the offense, Smith has received more than six targets in just one of his past 11 games played and has not had more than five receptions in a game since Week 5. That includes catching 2-of-4 targets for 31 yards when these teams played in Week 6.
Tampa Bay has allowed 7.0 yards per target (third) and a 3.7% touchdown rate (fifth) to opposing wideouts in the regular season.
Buccaneers WRs: The feel-good story of Cyril Grayson was short-lived as he suffered a hamstring injury just six snaps into Sunday and is out for this weekend.
In his absence, Breshad Perriman ran a pass route on 70% of the dropbacks (5-44-0 on six targets) while Tyler Johnson ran the most pass routes (35) in his continued use as the primary slot receiver (5-22-0 on seven targets). Scotty Miller only ran seven pass routes but turned in a 33-yard touchdown run to close the game.
This is a grab bag behind Evans and opponents have targeted their wideouts a league-low 50.9% of the time against the Eagles. We are chasing a touchdown here from Perriman and Johnson solely due to playing time, but this game sets up to feature the running backs and the tight ends in the passing game.
Rob Gronkowski: Gronk closed the year on a high note, notching games of 7-115-0 and 7-137-0 to close the season pass Tony Gonzalez for the most 100-yard receiving yard games by a tight end. Gronk has seen double-digit targets in three of his past four games and he should be a primary focus of the offense again this week.
Tight ends have scored 24.2% of the fantasy points allowed by the Eagles, the highest share in the league. Opposing tight ends have secured a league-high 77.9% of their targets against Philadelphia. That includes Tampa Bay tight ends catching 9-of-11 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown without Gronk active in Week 6. Cameron Brate is even in play as a Hail Mary dart throw for those punting the position.
Dallas Goedert: Goedert closed 2021 with a 56-830-4 line in 14 games, setting a career-high with 830 yards and 14.8 yards per catch. Goedert has accrued 23.9% of the team targets in his games played since the team traded Zach Ertz. Over his past four games, Goedert had strong outings with 6-105-2, 7-135-0, and 6-71-0 orbiting a 2-28-0 game to keep us honest since this is inherently a low-volume passing game.
Tampa Bay has allowed 5.4 receptions per game to opposing tight ends (25th) and a 71.9% catch rate (21st) to tight ends but are 12th in yards allowed per target (6.7 yards) to the position.
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