The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Conference Championship Round Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon game.
|Tampa Bay||Rank||@||Green Bay||Rank|
|35.2%||1||Opp. Rush %||40.6%||12|
|64.8%||32||Opp. Pass %||59.4%||21|
Against The Spread
Packers ATS at Home: 6-3
Buccaneers ATS Away: 5-5
Packers ATS as Favorite: 9-5
Buccaneers ATS as Underdog: 3-1
Sunday kicks off with the two highest-scoring offenses in the NFL through 19 weeks of play.
The Packers have been the league’s highest-scoring offense wire-to-wire this season, with the Buccaneers surging to close the season to climb the charts. Tampa Bay has scored 30 or more points in five straight games, their longest such streak in franchise history, while scoring 24 or more points in nine consecutive games.
This game is also the first of two rematches on Sunday, with the Buccaneers dismantling the Packers 38-10 back in Week 6. In that game, nearly nothing went right for the Packers as they managed a season-low 201 yards of offense with just 107 net passing yards. On top of that, the Packers also had 76 penalty yards (their second most of the season) while the Buccaneers had zero, one of just three times an NFL team went without a penalty in a game this season.
Teams that were blown out in the regular season and then faced that same team in the postseason is not overly uncommon. Since 2008, there have been 32 playoffs games in which a team has lost in the regular season by double digits to the same team. Those teams are 10-22 straight up, but are 19-13 against the spread.
17 of those games featured a rematch in which a team lost in the regular season by 20 or more points. Those teams have a 3-14 record in the playoff rematch with this Buccaneers team becoming the third team to win under that scenario in the sample a week ago against the Saints.
The Packers themselves were in nearly the same spot last year, facing a 49ers team in the NFC Championship Game after losing by 29 points to them in the regular season. The difference here is that this time the Packers are at home and favorites in the rematch.
That is where things do become uncommon. Of those previous 32 iterations since 2008, just six times has the team that was blown out in the regular season been a favorite in the postseason rematch. Those teams are 2-4 straight up and against the spread. The last favorite to win in this spot was the 2016 Steelers, who beat Miami 30-12 in the Wild Card Round after losing to them 30-15 earlier in the season.
Because of the conference gap for their respective careers, this is also just the fourth game ever involving Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as the starting quarterbacks. The two entered this season with an even 1-1 record heads up prior to that Tampa Bay win in Week 6.
If you are a team like the Buccaneers, who did not win their division and have had to win three straight games on the road to make the Super Bowl, things get even tougher in the Conference Championship Round. Since 2002, those teams are 3-7 straight up and against the spread, with just one (the 2010 Packers) of the past seven teams in this spot winning outright. Just three of those 10 teams faced an opposing No. 1 seed, with all three losing and failing to cover.
Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is playing in his fifth NFC Championship Game and fourth since turning 30 years old. After arguably his best regular season over his illustrious career, Rodgers carried that right over into the playoffs last week, torching the No. 1 pass defense in the league for 296 passing yards, 8.2 yards per pass attempt, and 25.5 fantasy points.
For fantasy, Rodgers has at least 18.3 points in every game except for one. That lone blemish was that rough game against Tampa Bay when Rodgers completed just 16-of-35 passes that game for 4.6 Y/A and zero touchdowns on his way to just 3.8 fantasy points.
In that game, the Bucs were able to pressure Rodgers on a season-high 43.9% of his dropbacks, when he was just 4-of-13 for 48 yards under pressure. For the season, Rodgers had a 77.1% completion rate when kept clean, which was second in the league. Under pressure, however, that rate dropped to 45.3%, which was 29th. He was just not under pressure often. Tampa Bay ranks third in the NFL in pressure rate (27.2%) and fifth in blitz rate (39.0%).
While they have been landing consistent pressure and bringing heat, the Buccaneers’ pass defense has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in nine of their 12 games since that takedown of Rodgers, but have found their footing to close the season a bit, allowing just 6.2 yards per pass attempt over their final six games of the season.
Tom Brady: In his first season in Tampa Bay, Brady finds himself in familiar territory, playing in what will be his 14th Conference Championship game and making his 13th start in those games. Brady has thrown for 290 or more yards in each of his past four Conference Championship games while averaging 19.4 fantasy points in those games.
Brady has not been perfect in the current playoffs, completing 55% and 54.5% of his passes over the opening two rounds, but has been strong for fantasy, turning in 23.0 and 22.2 fantasy points.
In their Week 6 matchup, Brady was not asked to do a lot, completing 17-of-27 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns (14.6 fantasy points). The Packers have played better pass defense as the season has moved on, allowing 6.3 Y/A and 11.8 fantasy points per game from Week 10 on after 8.0 Y/A and 15.8 points per prior. They also have not allowed more than one passing touchdown in a game since Week 12.
The one grain of salt there is that the only two above-average fantasy assets for 2020 they have faced over that span are Philip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill while since Week 11, they have squared off against Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Tannehill, Mitchell Trubisky (x2), and Jared Goff, although they did mush Tannehill back in Week 16.
Aaron Jones: Jones turned in 113 total yards and a touchdown last week against the Rams. Although he led the backfield with 47 snaps (63%), Jones still did his damage through efficiency, explosive plays, and scoring opportunities. Jones had 15 touches (his third straight game with 15 or fewer touches) while Jamaal Williams (12) and A.J. Dillon (six) tallied 18 touches of their own.
Jones turned in another huge play with a 60-yard run. Jones was fifth among all backs this season in rushing yardage on explosive carries (552 yards) which accounted for 50% of his rushing yardage. That came against the league’s best rushing defense in expected points allowed and a Rams defense that had not allowed a back to reach 100 yards from scrimmage in a game since Week 3.
The Buccaneers pose an equally tough of a task as they are second in EPA against the run and strong at preventing explosive gains on the ground. Tampa Bay allowed the fewest runs of 10 or more yards this season (33) on just 9.5% of their carries faced (fifth). They have not been invincible, allowing 105 yards last week to Alvin Kamara, 136 yards to Brian Hill in Week 17, and 110 yards to Dalvin Cook in Week 14 over the past six games. When these teams met in Week 6, Green Bay backs totaled 106 yards on 22 touches and a touchdown with Jones himself touching the ball 13 times for 41 yards, with 10 carries for 15 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on the ground.
Tampa Bay RBs: With Ronald Jones returning to the lineup, Leonard Fournette continued to lead the way for the Bucs backfield, playing 49 snaps (68%) while Jones played 21 snaps (29%). Fournette also continued to play effectively, turning 22 touches into 107 yards and a touchdown against a stingy Saints defense. In two playoff games, Fournette now has 45 touches for 239 yards and two scores.
Jones was also effective on his limited opportunities, turning 13 touches (all runs) into 62 yards.
That production came against a Saints defense that was second in the NFL in yardage allowed to backs at 96.3 yards per game.
Opposing backfields have produced 38.8% of the fantasy points allowed by the Packers, the highest rate in the league. Green Bay entered the postseason 17th in YPC (4.48) and 20th in rushing points allowed per game (13.6) to opposing backfields and then allowed the Rams backfield to turn 20 touches into 100 total yards and a touchdown.
This backfield has pulled the rug out on us multiple times this season and it doubtful we are just locked into Fournette getting another 20 touches if Jones continues to improve his health, but Fournette is a much safer bet in not being able to be game scripted out as he has run a pass route on 37.4% of the team dropbacks compared to 26.5% for Jones.
Davante Adams: Last week, Adams versus Jalen Ramsey was as big of a WR vs CB matchup that we could draw. Ramsey and the Rams did limit Adams to 7.3 yards per catch, his second-lowest total of the season, but Adams once again still showed his floor through volume (nine catches on 10 targets) and his scoring upside once again with a 1-yard touchdown reception. Adams now has 26 touchdown passes over the past 23 games played dating back to last season and has nine or more targets in 13 of his 14 full games this season.
The Bucs are 21st in points allowed per game to opposing WR1 options (15.9 points) and 31st in receptions allowed per game to those options (6.6). They are coming off blanking Michael Thomas a week ago. Back in Week 6, Adams returned from a hamstring injury to catch 6-of-10 targets versus Tampa Bay for 61 yards.
Mike Evans: Evans was once again limited by Marshon Lattimore in their rivalry last week, catching just 1-of-3 targets, but he made the most of his one catch, securing a 3-yard touchdown. Evans now has 14 touchdowns on the season while turning 9-of-15 end zone targets into touchdowns.
The Packers have been tough on opposing lead wideouts this season, ranking fourth in points allowed per game (12.8) and first in receptions allowed per game to those wideouts (4.0), which includes allowing Evans himself to catch just 1-of-2 targets for 10 yards in Week 6.
Evans runs 62% of his routes on the perimeter, which will align him with Jaire Alexander often, with added propensity should Antonio Brown also miss Sunday. Alexander has played just 15 snaps in the slot this season.
Chris Godwin: Catching 4-of-7 targets for 34 yards last week, Godwin had his lowest-scoring game of the season since Week 14, while snapping a four-game touchdown streak.
Godwin runs 66% of his routes in the slot, where he posted a 49-605-5 line this season on 61 targets. Catching 80.3% of his inside targets, Godwin secured 59.5% when on the perimeter. Green Bay was equally solid on the inside in part of Chandon Sullivan ranking 10th among slot cornerbacks in yards allowed per slot snap (1.13 yards). When these teams played in Week 6, Godwin secured 5-of-7 targets for 48 yards, but received 25.0% of the team targets, his second-highest rate in a game this season.
Antonio Brown: Brown was forced from the game late last weekend after suffering a knee injury. Catching 1-of-3 targets for 10 yards on 19 pass routes prior to leaving the game, Brown continued to be limited in games in which the Bucs had their full wide receiving unit on the field. In Brown’s nine games with Evans fully operational, he has averaged 10.8 points per game and 8.1 points per game in his games without a touchdown.
After Brown left the game, Tyler Johnson (1-8-0) ran eight pass routes while Scotty Miller (1-29-0) ran seven. Prior to Brown joining the team, Miller had run a pass route on 68.5% of the team dropbacks and then 26.5% afterward, but Miller leads the team in average depth of target (16.4 yards) and yards per reception (15.6 yards) when given opportunities.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Valdes-Scantling matched a season-high with eight targets last week, catching four for 33 yards. For Valdes-Scantling, we know he is a volatile commodity that is predicated on finding the end zone. In his five games this season reaching the end zone, he averaged 20.3 fantasy points. In his other 12 games, Valdes-Scantling averaged 3.6 points per game with single-digit points in all 12.
As good as the Tampa Bay defense was this season, they were beatable downfield, allowing a 49.5% completion rate on throws over 15 yards past the line of scrimmage (27th) and allowing nine touchdowns on those throws (22nd).
Allen Lazard: Lazard also matched a season-high with eight targets last week, catching four of them for 96 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown that iced the game. Those 96 yards and 22.2% target share were highs for Lazard in a game since Week 3. It was his first time clearing 56 yards in a game since that Week 3 game and just his third game with more than three catches over his eight games returning to the lineup in Week 11.
The Buccaneers force teams to play one dimensional, seeing a league-high 62.6% pass rate. As a byproduct, Tampa Bay saw 20.0 targets per game to opposing wideouts (fifth-most). On those targets, they allowed a 67.8% catch rate (24th), but were better per opportunity at 16th in points allowed per target (1.80) and 15th in yards per target (8.1) to wideouts.
Robert Tonyan: Catching all four of his targets for 60 yards last week, Tonyan continued to max out his opportunities. Tonyan has now caught 56 of his 63 targets and has caught all of his targets in 10 games this season.
He also has needed that high catch rate, since Tonyan has not seen more than five targets in a game since Week 8. His 60 yards last week were his most in a game since Week 12, failing to top 39 yards in a game over that span. He did not catch a touchdown, but Tonyan has scored in six of his past eight games.
Tampa Bay has allowed a 71.7% catch rate on targets to tight ends (27th) and a 7.1% touchdown rate to the position (19th).
Rob Gronkowski: Gronk had a few opportunities last week to turn in some splash plays, but at the end of the day, managed to catch just 1-of-5 targets for 14 yards. Gronk now has two or fewer receptions in four straight games and in eight of his past 10 games. That said, Gronk still leads the team with 16 end zone targets, if chasing a touchdown on a short slate of games.
Over those same 10 games, Cameron Brate has 26 receptions on 33 targets compared to Gronk’s 20 receptions on 43 targets.
Opposing teams targeted their tight ends just 19.3% of the time versus Green Bay (seventh-lowest) with the Packers checking in allowing a 64.7% catch rate (eighth) and 7.3 yards per target (16th) with a 5.5% touchdown rate (13th) on those opportunities.
More Conference Championship Round Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet:
TB at GB | BUF at KC