A revenge game with an intense one-on-one rivalry? This game needs to be on your TV, and there are some players who need to be in your fantasy football starting lineup.
In the New Orleans Saints‘ fantasy preview, you’ll notice that I am higher than most on a player coming off a dud performance. As for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ fantasy preview, the question is simple: What do you do with Mike Evans?
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
- Spread: Saints -3
- Total: 40.5
- Buccaneers implied points: 18.5
- Saints implied points: 21.5
Baker Mayfield: He just isn’t good enough to matter in our game. At least half of his throws have gone to Mike Evans/Chris Godwin in all three games this season. That’s great, but Mayfield has been held under 175 passing yards in two of three games and has yet to post a top-12 week. He should be nowhere near fantasy lineups and doesn’t own enough upside to even be worth a DFS flier.
Derek Carr: All signs point to the shoulder injury he suffered last weekend against the Packers, sidelining him this week, at the very least. New Orleans doesn’t go on their bye until Week 11, so this injury is one Carr is going to have to work through without the benefit of the schedule. I like the upside with Carr as much as anyone, but he doesn’t need to be rostered right now.
Jameis Winston: We get YOLO Winston, in a revenge spot, getting an elite playmaker back on a roster that has two serious deep threats, against a defense that is much more vulnerable against the pass than the run.
Are you not entertained?
I’m not reading into his Week 3 performance (10 of 16 for 101 yards) the same way I wasn’t reading into Jerome Ford’s big Week 2: In-game injury replacements are different than week-long injury replacements.
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We know Winston is likely to push the ball down the field, something this pass-catching corps is built for, and we know the Bucs have allowed a 20+ yard passing score in all three games this season.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but Winston is a top-15 option for me that deserves consideration for those streaming the position, those working through a Justin Fields problem, and those playing in DFS tournaments.
Rachaad White: Sean Tucker has yet to see his role expand, and until that happens, White’s role elevates him to a starter in most formats (low-end RB2 for me this week). That’s a process play more than it is the least bit of confidence in the player.
None of his 58 touches this season have gained more than 16 yards, and that means that if the volume ever dries up, his fantasy stock is at risk of crashing in a hurry. He coughed up the ball at the end of the first half last week, giving the Eagles three free points and the Bucs one more reason to consider other options.
Given the state of the position, benching White is a tough sell, but you need to be aware that a third finish outside the top 35 running backs is certainly a possibility. Last season, the Bucs ran 50 times for 148 yards in two games against the Saints, a stat line that is eerily similar to what White has produced through three weeks (48 carries for 150 yards).
Alvin Kamara: The range of outcomes for Kamara this week might be the largest at the position. The veteran is coming off of a three-game suspension, so while the missed time isn’t ideal, it’s not as if he is working back from a nagging injury. That said, we have no idea what his role will be in his debut, and this Bucs defense did shut him down in Week 13 last season (14 touches for 37 yards).
All of that said, I’m taking an optimistic angle on him in this spot. The Bucs are stout in the middle of their line, but it’s not as if Kamara has made a name for himself by grinding out RB dives. He is a player who excels in space, and I trust this coaching staff to put him in a position to succeed, not to mention giving Winston a check-down option.
If Winston is challenging the Bucs vertically – like I think is possible – there will be plenty of space for Kamara to operate, and that is the thought process that went into my mid-range RB2 ranking of him in the Week 4 spot.
Jamaal Williams: Heading into last week, Williams was placed on IR with the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 2. That means that he will be eligible to return until the Week 7 Thursday nighter against the Jaguars. I expect him to hold a role when healthy, but he isn’t someone you can rely on consistently. If you need the roster space, cutting Williams is an option.
Kendre Miller: The rookie is talented, but it appears clear that the Saints view him as more of a project than an immediate contributor. With Kamara still suspended and Williams on IR, Miller was out-snapped 30-21 by Tony Jones Jr. in Week 3 and managed just 34 yards on his 10 touches.
This backfield could be his down the road, and that makes him a fine dynasty option, but I’m not holding out hope for him in 2023.
Mike Evans: Evans has scored in all three games this season. By averaging over nine targets per contest, it’s clear that he has Mayfield’s trust. Now, the million-dollar question: Is that trust strong enough to overcome the kryptonite that is Marshon Lattimore?
When this game kicks off, it will have been 1,847 days since the last time Evans had 5+ catches in a game against the Saints (nine straight meetings, a per the Week 4 Cheat Sheet), and in three of those games, he was held under 15 yards. He earned just 13.1% of the targets in two meetings with the Saints last season, a number that has to change if he’s going to matter this week.
A history of Mike Evans vs. the Saints since Marshon Lattimore was drafted in 2017. pic.twitter.com/y4NYiHHmVE
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 26, 2023
I have my concerns about Mayfield being able to elevate Evans above this matchup and, therefore, have him ranked as an average Flex option more than someone you need to lock in.
Chris Godwin: Gone is the 17-game streak of games with at least five catches courtesy of the Eagles on Monday night in a game that saw the Birds hold the ball for nearly 39 minutes.
Godwin is to be viewed as a low-upside Flex play who typically carries a respectable floor. The fact of the matter is that Mayfield’s strengths align much better with the strengths of Evans, and he isn’t the type of QB that can sustain a pair of top-25 receivers.
Chris Olave: The budding star has cleared 85 receiving yards on double-digit targets in all three games this season, yet he remains without a WR1 performance due to a lack of touchdowns. The scoring profile is there in terms of what he brings to the table, though it is worth noting that he only found paydirt four times on 119 targets as a rookie.
He caught just nine of 10 targets against these Bucs last season, and guess what? I’m not worried about it. Not one bit. He’s simply too talented for the scoring struggles to persist, and maybe the move Winston helps unlock that potential. Olave is a top-10 receiver for me this week and every week moving forward until I have any sort of reason to pivot.
Michael Thomas: Thomas is on pace for 102 catches, and it seems like no one cares. His comeback is a nice NFL story, but at under one fantasy point per target, he can only be so valuable.
He caught six of nine targets in the one game he played against the Bucs last season, totaling 65 yards and a score in the process. It’s that last part that is key. If he is getting red-zone looks, he’s a fine WR2 option. But with that yet to be the case, he’s an average Flex play for me this week, and that would require the best week of his season to date (he has yet to finish as a top-35 receiver).
Rashid Shaheed: Egg on my face. Shaheed was my pick to click last week, and he had so many catches as episodes of Game of Thrones that I successfully made it through zero.
Depending on your league type, his 76-yard punt return for a score may have helped salvage the two-target disaster. That was the upside I was hoping we’d see on the offensive side of the ball, and it now gives him a 40-yard play in six of eight games. If the change under center does lead to an increase in aggression, Shaheed is going to have another chance to shine.
He led the team in receiving yards the last time these two met (75 yards on four targets), and I’m penciling him in for at least one big play this week, allowing him to crack my top 40 at the position.
Cade Otton: The thought of Otton establishing himself as the third option in this passing game is a thing of the past. He’s been held under 20 yards in both games played against reputable NFL franchises (the Bears at the moment, do not count as such), and it’s hard to spin anything I’ve seen from him as a positive moving forward.
Juwan Johnson: I had more hopes that Johnson would build on the production he gave us during the second half of last season, but that hope has evaporated. He was targeted on two of Winston’s first three passes last week, but with just 61 yards through three weeks and a target-earner in Kamara set to make his 2023 debut, Johnson shouldn’t be rostered and isn’t one of my five favorite streaming options at the position this week.
Taysom Hill: With Carr banged up, the door is open for Hill to flash his versatility, and that is enough to have my interest piqued at the TE position. He had four carries and a target in the loss at Lambeau last week, and while that doesn’t sound like much, his touches typically come in fantasy-friendly spots.
Combine the location of his touches with how much damage they can do, and he’s flirting with my top 15 at the position. He caught a touchdown, had three carries, and threw a pass in this matchup last season – having that in his range of potential outcomes gives him a nice ceiling at a position where everyone has the same goose-egg floor.
Should You Start Mike Evans or Courtland Sutton?
This “Evans vs. New Orleans” thing is going to be a storyline until he produces in this spot. If he does get loose this week, I’ll adjust my stance for the next meeting, but we can’t assume that he continues to thrive with Lattimore lined up across from him, so I’m siding with Sutton.
Russell Wilson has thrown for 300 yards in consecutive starts, and Sutton was the top producer in this passing game a week ago. Both carry a good amount of risk and are not ranked as surefire starters for me this week.
Should You Start Michael Thomas or Chris Godwin?
These are two players with very similar skill sets and a quarterback who doesn’t exactly fit what they like to do. That said, I think the primary receiver on New Orleans should have a big day and thus demand targets in bulk, while I think the opposite is true for Mike Evans.
Both a live options in a PPR setting, but I do think Godwin sees more work in this game, and that makes him my play in a close one.
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