The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Week 17 Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon game.

CarolinaRank@Tampa BayRank
18Implied Total21
22.519Points All./Gm20.37
64.826Opp. Plays/Gm6313
5.416Off. Yards/Play525
5.312Def. Yards/Play56
44.34%23Opp. Rush %42.43%16
55.66%10Opp. Pass %57.57%17
  • Tampa Bay is a league-worst 3-11-1 against the spread this season and the only team that has yet to cover at home (0-6-1).
  • The Panthers are 0-6 in games in which the opponent scores first, the only team remaining in the league without a win when they do not score first.
  • The Buccaneers have a -7 turnover differential since Week 8, the worst margin in the league over that span.
  • Carolina is the only team in the league that does not have a win after trailing (0-9) in a game.
  • Carolina rushed for a franchise record 320 yards in Week 16.
  • Tampa Bay is last in the league in carries of 10 or more yards (24) and carries of 20 or more yards (three).
  • The Buccaneers have scored a touchdown on 14.7% of their drives, ahead of only the Texans (14.4%), Colts (12.7%), and Broncos (12.6%).
  • Tampa Bay is averaging 6.3 yards per touchdown play, ahead of only the Steelers (6.0).
  • The average touchdown length against Carolina is 8.8 yards, the lowest in the league.
Sharp Football Betting Package
Take 15% off NFL Betting + Props


Tom Brady: It was another struggle for Brady and this offense on Christmas. Brady threw just 5.9 yards per pass attempt with one touchdown and two interceptions against an Arizona pass defense sitting at the bottom of the league for fantasy purposes. 

Brady now has just three QB1 scoring weeks on the season and has not finished inside of the top-10 fantasy passers in a game since Week 5. Brady has also thrown multiple interceptions in three straight games for the first time since 2002.

Brady has given us no reason to handle him as anything other than a QB2. When these teams played in Week 7, Brady was the QB19 (11.7 points), throwing for 5.9 Y/A with no touchdowns, his only game without a touchdown pass this season. 

Carolina has allowed 6.9 yards per pass attempt (11th), but they have allowed three touchdowns in two of their past three games to Jared Goff and Geno Smith if you have to go back to Brady in 2QB formats.  

Sam Darnold: The Panthers have found a solid short-term formula for Darnold, asking him to do minimal lifting paired with a strong run game, taking vertical shots when the time comes to throw. 

Since taking over as the starter in Week 12, Darnold leads the NFL with 8.6 yards per pass attempt. He is 27th in actual pass attempts over that span. Carolina has thrown the ball a league-low 38.4% of the time over that period, which is 14% below expectations based on game script. 

Darnold is 26th in completion rate (61.4%) over that span, but 15.9% of his pass attempts have been throws 20 yards or further downfield, fifth in the league. He also has not thrown an interception.

Now, for fantasy, Darnold has been in the front half of scoring just once in his four starts and that also came with a rushing touchdown. That forces us to pump the brakes a bit with Darnold as a 2QB option, but there is reason for optimism if using him in those formats.

The Buccaneers are third in yards allowed per pass attempt (6.4 Y/A), but they have allowed a 4.8% touchdown rate, which is 28th in the league. They allowed 8.0 Y/A and 15.0 fantasy points to P.J. Walker when these teams played in Week 7.

Running Back

Panthers RBs: This Carolina run game has had some major spike weeks since Steve Wilks took over as the head coach and the team went to this battery approach after the trade of Christian McCaffrey. Since Week 7, the Panthers have had games with 173, 169, 232, 185, 223, and 320 rushing yards as a team, with weeks of 64, 36, and 21 yards peppered in just to keep us honest and provide some frustration. 

Chuba Hubbard (31 snaps) and D’Onta Foreman (30 snaps) split time last week once again with Foreman as the hammer back (21 touches) and Hubbard as the satellite back (12 touches). Foreman has just five receptions on the season, so he still has plenty of fragility week-to-week, but he also has five 100-yard rushing games. Foreman only has one top-24 scoring week without a touchdown, so he still very much is a touchdown-dependent RB2/FLEX.

Hubbard has at least 65 yards in each of his past three games, capped by his 125-yard game last weekend. He is a floor-based FLEX.

The Bucs have been more vulnerable versus the run this season than in years past. They are allowing 4.45 YPC to backs (19th). That includes these backs rushing 26 times for 176 yards and a touchdown when these teams played in Week 7.

Buccaneers RBs: The Bucs continue to start Rachaad White and then fall into a rotation of using both him and Leonard Fournette on a drive-to-drive basis that ultimately has led to more touches for Fournette. 

Neither back has been effective in the rushing game. 

Among 40 backs with 100 or more carries this season, Fournette ranks 39th in yards created after contact per carry (2.34 yards) while White is 40th (2.32 yards). Fournette is 35th in the rate of carries to gain 10 or more yards (7.8%) while White is 39th (7.0%).

Fournette has handled over 50% of the backfield touches in three of the past four weeks. He is coming off a season-high 29 touches on Christmas rushing 20 times for 72 yards while catching 9-of-10 targets for 90 yards. The downside for Fournette is that he still played just 60.5% of the snaps and has not found the end zone since Week 10.

After going over 100 yards in Week 10 and Week 12, White has totaled 69, 77, 43, and 53 yards since. His 11 touches on Sunday were his fewest since Week 9, but he did manage to catch his second touchdown over the past four games to salvage things. 

Fournette appears to be the more stable back here since he has been far less touchdown dependent than White, but the backfield split still places a lot of fragility on both backs and makes them more boom-or-bust FLEX commodities than backs to lean on. 

Wide Receiver

Chris Godwin: Godwin turned in a line we have come to expect from this season, catching 8-of-10 targets for 63 yards on Christmas Night. 

Godwin now has 123 targets since returning in Week 4, which is fourth among all wide receivers. He has 86 catches over that span, which is third behind only Justin Jefferson (105) and Tyreek Hill (92). But with just 5.8 air yards per target, he is 11th in yardage (813 yards) while only grabbing three touchdowns. That has limited Godwin to just two WR1 scoring weeks. Godwin is a volume-based WR2 with a higher floor in full-PPR formats. 

The Panthers have been vulnerable to interior wideouts, allowing 8.9 yards per target (23rd) while allowing 80 receptions (27th) to those receivers, although they have done a solid job in keeping them out of the end zone with a 3.8% touchdown rate (13th). Godwin caught 7-of-13 targets for 43 yards when these teams played in Week 7.

D.J. Moore: It has been a weird year for Moore, but he has shown signs of life again here with another quarterback change. Coming off a 5-83-1 game on seven targets Saturday, Moore has now been the WR11, WR93, WR16, and WR10 over his four games with Darnold. Moore has not had more than seven targets in a game since Week 8, but he has found the end zone in three of his four games with Darnold under center. 

While the targets are not piling up here due to the run-centric approach for Carolina, Moore has now secured 63.6% of his targets for 11.8 yards per target from Darnold compared to a 54.3% catch rate and 7.2 yards per target from P.J. Walker and a 47.8% catch rate and 5.4 yards per target from Baker Mayfield. 

Moore has been very touchdown dependent, which has led to his volatility for fantasy and why he is a boom-or-bust option on the WR2/WR3 line. In his six games with a score, Moore is averaging 19.9 points compared to 6.0 points per game in his other nine games. 

One of those games with a score came against Tampa Bay back in Week 7 when Moore caught 7-of-10 targets for 69 yards to go along with that trip to the end zone. Even with that game, the Bucs are eighth in the league in points allowed per game to opposing WR1 targets (13.1). 

Mike Evans (TRUST): The tough run for Evans continued on Christmas as he reeled in three of his eight targets for 29 yards, which was a new season-low in yardage for him in a game this season.

I get it. You are done with him (or most teams that had him already are). Evans has not been a WR2 or better since Week 8 and has not found the end zone since Week 4. It also does not help that Brady’s deep ball has disappeared. Brady has completed just 3-of-18 passes (16.7%) over 25 yards down the field since Week 8, which is ahead of only Marcus Mariota over that span.

That said, Evans continues to see actionable target counts (9.2 targets per game over his past nine) while he has run into a number of sticky matchups here of late. Carolina has allowed 8.4 yards per target to opposing boundary wideouts (17th), which is the lowest-ranked defense against outside wide receivers that Evans has faced since Week 9. Carolina also will be without Jaycee Horn this week and have already lost Donte Jackson back in Week 10.

Evans had a season-high 15 targets when these teams played in Week 7, catching nine passes for 96 yards (while even dropping a long walk-in touchdown). Those matchup notes keep a light on for Evans as an upside WR2 while making him an intriguing DFS tournament play at his lowest point of the season. 

More Week 17 Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet:

DAL at TEN | ARI at ATL | CHI at DET | DEN at KC | MIA at NE | IND at NYG | NO at PHI | CAR at TB | CLE at WAS | JAX at HOU | SF at LVR | NYJ at SEA | MIN at GB | LAR at LAC | PIT at BAL | BUF at CIN