The Worksheet,, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Divisional Round Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon game.
|LA Rams||Rank||@||Tampa Bay||Rank|
|39.33%||8||Opp. Rush %||33.16%||1|
|60.67%||25||Opp. Pass %||66.84%||32|
Against the Spread
Buccaneers ATS at Home: 7-2
Rams ATS Away: 4-5
Buccaneers ATS as Favorite: 10-8
Rams ATS as Underdog: 2-0
The Buccaneers are enjoying the full Tom Brady experience as they handled the Eagles 31-15 last week. With that win, the Buccaneers are now a perfect 5-0 with Brady in the postseason. Brady-led teams have fared well in the Divisional Round, sporting a 14-2 record and a 12-1 record at home in the second round in the postseason.
Adapting to a number of injuries, the Bucs have now won eight of their past nine games. They also now carry a 5-1 record this season against 2021 playoff teams.
Of course, that one loss came to the Rams in Los Angeles back in Week 3. The Rams won that game 34-24, leading 14-7 at the half and 31-17 through three quarters. These teams accounted for 853 total yards in that one, although both offenses are with and without different pieces in this rematch. The Bucs had Chris Godwin in the first matchup, but Rob Gronkowski was banged up in the game. The Rams have since lost Robert Woods and added Odell Beckham. That Week 3 game was also the first week the Rams dusted off DeSean Jackson (3-120-1), who has since left the team. On defense, the Bucs did not have Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean logged only 12 snaps before an injury. The Rams have added Von Miller defensively but have lost Jordan Fuller.
The Rams got here by beating the Cardinals 34-11. They have now won six of their past seven games. One of the stories coming out of that game was it was their first clean game on offense since Week 14, which has been a telling tale for how good this team can be when they protect the ball. The Rams are now 7-0 in games in which they do not have a turnover, posting a +115 point differential in those games, winning all by seven or more points. That includes the previous Week 3 matchup between these teams.
The Rams have also been a team that has traveled well for a West Coast team. Under Sean McVay, the Rams have a 12-3 (.800) record in Eastern Time Zone kicks, the best road record in the time zone for a non-ET team over that span. They are 8-2 in earlier kickoffs in the Eastern Time Zone in those games (7-3 against the spread), although none of those games have been in the postseason. They will need to roll over that success here as the Buccaneers are not only 13-4 at home since adding Brady, but they are 11-1 at home in non-prime time games. The Bucs also were second in the NFL with 33.0 points per game at home.
Tom Brady: Brady was as expected Sunday, completing 29-of-37 passes for 271 yards and a pair of scores (18.8 points) as the Bucs got out to a 31-0 lead and cruised to victory last week. He was the fifth-highest scorer at quarterback in the Wild Card Round.
When these teams met back in Week 3, Brady was forced to throw the ball a season-high 55 times due to game script and ineffectiveness running the ball, completing 41 of them for 432 yards. He only threw one touchdown pass, one of just five games this season in which he failed to throw multiple touchdown passes. He did however tack on a rushing touchdown to make up some fantasy ground as he was the Bucs leading rusher in that game with 14 yards.
Both Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen suffered ankle injuries last week. Jensen returned and closed out the game, but Wirfs was unable to stay on the field after attempting to play through the high-ankle injury. We will monitor practice throughout the week to see if Tampa Bay will have both available on Sunday. Even with the shake-up to the offensive line last week while matching a season-high with four sacks taken, Brady was pressured on just six of his 41 dropbacks, the lowest rate in the league on Wild Card Weekend.
It was hard to pressure Brady this season. He has been pressured on a league-low 19.6% of his dropbacks, but if you can get to him, Brady was 24th in the league in yards per pass attempt under pressure (5.6 Y/A) and 29th in completion rate (45.2%) under pressure. The Rams closed the year 25th in pressure rate (22.8%), but pressured Kyler Murray on 40.5% of his dropbacks on Monday night. They were able to pressure Brady on 31.7% of his dropbacks back in Week 3, with Brady going 9-of-15 for 100 yards (6.7 Y/A) under pressure compared to 32-of-40 for 332 yards (8.3 Y/A) when they were unable to get to him.
Matthew Stafford: Stafford did not have to do a lot on Monday night, but he was stellar when called upon, carving the Cardinals for 24.3 fantasy points (third among quarterbacks last week). Stafford attempted a season-low 17 passes but completed 76.5% (fourth-best all season) while averaging 11.9 yards per pass attempt, his highest mark in a game since Week 1. He also added a pair of touchdown passes while tacking on his first rushing touchdown of the season.
Stafford threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns (29.5 points) when these teams met early in the season. No team blitzes more than the Buccaneers (40.8%) and they did the same to Stafford back in Week 3, blitzing him on 30.8% of his dropbacks, the seventh-highest rate in the league that week. Blitzing Stafford has been a quick way to get beat this season and that was the case in Week 3 as Stafford was 9-of-11 for 91 yards (8.3 Y/A) with a touchdown against the blitz in that game.
The Cardinals just tried to blitz Stafford on 42.9% of dropbacks on Monday, and Stafford went 7-of-9 for 148 yards (16.4 Y/A) with a touchdown on those plays. For the season, only Justin Herbert (21.8%), Ben Roethlisberger (21.0%), and Patrick Mahomes (15.5%) have been blitzed at a lower rate than Stafford (22.1%), but when blitzed, Stafford leads the NFL with a 74.8% completion rate while ranking third in yards per attempt (9.4 Y/A) and third in touchdown passes (14). Just one of Stafford’s league-high 17 interceptions came against the blitz. When not blitzed, Stafford has completed 65.3% of his passes (21st) but is still fourth in yards per pass attempt (7.9 Y/A).
The Bucs have been solid on a per play basis against the pass, allowing 6.0 yards per attempt (second) and a 3.9% touchdown rate (seventh), but no team faces more pass attempts per game (39.8) as they are the top pass-funnel defense in the league in neutral game scripts.
Bucs RBs: The Bucs used both Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard equally on 49% of snaps last weekend with both reaching the end zone. The team held out Leonard Fournette for another week, but Fournette himself has gotten out in front this week to say that he will be playing on Sunday. Last week, Bruce Arians suggested that when Fournette was available to play it would be in full capacity with no workload restrictions.
Prior to injury, Fournette was averaging 19.7 touches for 102.9 yards per game over his previous 10 games. Fournette handled 71.6% of the backfield touches while averaging 5.0 receptions per game. He was also second in the NFL in opportunities inside of the 10-yard line (29) before missing the close of the season.
We will see how truthful Arians is on that workload being static in Fournette’s first game since Week 15. When these teams played earlier in the year, Fournette had yet to work his way into the lead role, playing just 26 snaps and touching the ball seven times for 34 yards. Tampa Bay running backs were brutal in that matchup running the ball, carrying nine times for 19 yards. They did combine to catch 12-of-13 targets for 77 yards and a score in that game, with Bernard (9-51-1) doing the lifting. He suffered an injury at the very end of the game on a touchdown which then opened the door for Fournette to take over passing snaps and we never looked back until Fournette was injured himself.
The Rams were good against the run all year, allowing 3.72 yards per carry to backs (fourth), but they were 17th in receiving points allowed per game (9.8) to backfields. If Arians is truthful on Fournette’s workload, then he walks back into a spot where he can be a volume-based producer with touchdown upside, but if Bernard carves into passing snaps here, Fournette becomes a touchdown-dependent producer.
Rams RBs: After a Week 18 tune-up to get his feet wet with 13 snaps, Cam Akers led this backfield with 32 snaps and 18 touches for 95 yards while Sony Michel played 24 snaps, handling 13 touches for 58 yards. Akers ran 10 pass routes to eight for Michel, with Akers tacking on a 40-yard reception on his two targets. Akers only rushed for 3.2 yards per carry but looked the part. It is worth noting that the lone carry at the goal line did go to Michel.
Akers taking this much work shows how much the staff wants his talent on the field. His receiving ability also gives him an added out here against a Tampa Bay defense that faces the fewest rushing attempts in the league and looked back to their old self last weekend, shutting down Eagles backs for 56 yards rushing, with a lone blemish being a 34-yard touchdown run allowed to Boston Scott up 31-0 with 12 minutes in the game. On the other eight carries that Philadelphia backs had in the game, they produced 24 yards.
Michel was able to handle 20 carries in the Week 3 matchup between these teams due to game script but produced just 67 yards rushing on those carries. The Bucs still allowed a league-low 8.8 rushing points per game to backfields but did allow 13.2 receiving points per game (31st) to backs.
Cooper Kupp: Kupp has actually produced some mortal target totals of late, seeing exactly seven targets in each of the past three games after no fewer than nine in a game prior. But Kupp has still gotten there for fantasy in those games, finding the end zone in all three while catching at least five passes in each, giving him five or more receptions in every game this season. Kupp also carried a 38.9% target share on Monday despite the lowered line, the Rams just had a season-low 18 targets to go around.
Kupp draws another positive draw here as the Bucs are 28th in points allowed per game (12.6) to opposing wide receivers from the slot, including a 9-96-2 game on 12 targets (31.6%) to Kupp himself. Kupp also has led all players in receptions (40) and touchdowns (eight) when teams do blitz, an area where the Bucs lead the league.
Mike Evans: Evans reeled in 9-of-10 targets for 90 yards and a score to open the postseason. Operating as the feature wideout in this offense, Evans received 27.8% of the targets, his highest rate in a game since Week 4. Evans has now been targeted on 24.6% of his routes run the past two weeks without Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin after being targeted on 17.3% of his routes prior. Tampa Bay did an excellent job of moving Evans around against the zone-based Eagles to free him up from Darius Slay on Sunday. Evans ran 22 routes at LWR (3-18-0), 10 routes in the slot (3-42-1), and seven routes at RWR (3-30-0), catching six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown away from Slay.
The Rams play zone on 77.3% of their snaps, the second-highest rate in the league. They have a capable cornerback in Jalen Ramsey to trail Evans, but they have not used Ramsey in that capacity this season. The state of Bucs receiver room offers potential for that to happen, but we would largely be operating off guesswork there while the Bucs did show us last week they will move Evans around now to generate some added opportunities because they need him to carry this receiving unit. Evans also comes paired with scoring potential, trailing only Kupp this year in touchdown grabs (15) while leading the Bucs with 12 end zone targets.
Evans caught 8-of-10 targets for 106 yards (1-of-2 targets for 14 yards guarded by Ramsey) when these teams played in Week 3 after catching 5-of-9 targets for 49 yards and a touchdown when they played last season (4-of-7 for 40 yards on Ramsey).
Odell Beckham: Beckham has fully channeled his inner Adam Thielen for fantasy since joining the Rams. Beckham is averaging 39.8 yards per game with a game-high of 81 yards since joining the Rams, but he has been involved in high-leverage situations. Since joining the Rams, Beckham leads the Rams with 24 targets on third down and seven targets in the end zone. Beckham has secured a touchdown grab in six of those nine games, with one coming from longer than seven yards out.
The Buccaneers are fifth in the NFL in touchdown rate (3.7%) and third in yards allowed per target (7.0) to opposing wideouts but have faced 22.6 targets per game (third) to the position.
Van Jefferson: Jefferson has slowed down to close the year, receiving just 20 targets (11.0%) over the past six games, with 12 receptions in those games. Jefferson has received 10% or fewer of the team targets in four of those six games, leaving us a fantasy option in which we are chasing a splash play. We do still have Jefferson as a near full-time player (86.4% route participation last week) against a pass funnel defense to provide life to catching a deep ball or a score. The Bucs are mid-pack in points allowed per target on targets 15 yards or further downfield.
Bucs WRs: After Evans, the Bucs deployed Tyler Johnson on 77% of the snaps (2-30-0), Breshad Perriman for 49% (1-5-0), and Scotty Miller for 26% (1-8-0). Johnson has consistently been the option playing the most snaps and running the most pass routes if you really have to cast a line here, but he also has not scored double-digit PPR points in any game since Godwin’s injury, catching 11-of-16 targets for 102 yards over those four games. Johnson is still cashing his first touchdown on the year. Perriman is now also out, meaning Miller will be forced to step up at log snaps at minimum if casting a line out here on cheap option in DFS.
I am betting on the team passing volume being high here for the Bucs, but we are throwing darts at the ancillary wideouts here hoping for production while the Rams have allowed a 2.7% touchdown rate (third) to opposing wide receivers.
Rob Gronkowski: Gronk turned in a modest game to open the postseason, catching 5-of-6 targets for 31 yards and a touchdown. It was his first trip to the end zone since Week 13. Gronk was still third on the team in targets (16.7%) while running a pass route on 85.4% of the team dropbacks (second on the team). Gronk still has a large role in the passing offense.
The Rams have been solid against tight ends all season, allowing 6.9 yards per target (14th) and a 3.2% touchdown rate (fifth) to the position, including a 3-21-0 to Zach Ertz on Monday.
Tyler Higbee: Despite a moderate 3-46-0 on four targets, Higbee still continued an extended underlying role in the passing game. Higbee still saw 22.2% of the team targets on Monday, giving him over 20% of the team targets in each of his past three games while Higbee has 20.8% of the team targets over his past five appearances, averaging 5.0 receptions per game over that span.
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. They allowed a 6-92-0 on 12 targets to Dallas Goedert in the Wild Card Round while Higbee caught all five of his targets for 40 yards and a touchdown when these teams played in Week 3.
More Divisional Round Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet: