Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Eagles running back Miles Sanders returned to a limited practice on Wednesday and appears ready to return from a broken hand.
- The only Eagles player that missed practice on Wednesday for anything other than rest was defensive end Josh Sweat, who did so with an undisclosed illness.
- Zero current COVID concerns with the Eagles.
- Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard are likely to return from IR after having their 21-day practice window opened early in the week.
- Running back Ronald Jones II, wide receiver Cyril Grayson, and outside linebacker Anthony Nelson failed to practice on Wednesday for the Bucs, the former two of which have been declared as “doubtful” for the Wildcard Round by head coach Bruce Arians.
- Zero current COVID concerns with the Bucs.
How philadelphia Will Try To Win ::
Back in Week 6, when these two teams last played, the Eagles were refocusing their offense into the most run-heavy unit in the league. Since a week after the last time the Eagles played the Bucs (Week 8 and on), Philadelphia has gone on to lead the league in overall rush rate (59%) by a wide margin (the next-closest team over that timeframe is the Patriots at 52%), with quarterback Jalen Hurts attempting more than 30 passes only once during the second half of the season. Hurts’ standard range of pass attempts was at 23-26 attempts, with a game of 14 attempts and a game of 17 attempts thrown in. The change in identity from the Eagles was one of the sharpest to occur during the season in recent memory. That said, their opponent for the Wildcard Round faces only 21.5 rush attempts per game, ceded the fewest rush yards per game, and ranked fourth in the league in adjusted line yards allowed on defense this season. But, is that the whole story here? Well, the Buccaneers yielded a 15th-ranked 4.3 yards per carry, allowed 106 receptions to opposing backfields on 131 targets, and allowed a moderate 21.6 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. Furthermore, we saw Jalen Hurts’ rushing output fall off a cliff over his final four starts of the regular season, with games of only eight, eight, seven, and two rush attempts. Those games came against division rivals Washington and the Giants, each of whom they played twice over the final six weeks (Hurts missed a game and the Eagles had their bye in Week 14). The last time the Eagles played a top-five rush defense was back in Week 11 against the Saints, a game that saw Hurts run the football a whopping 18 times en route to 69 yards and three rushing scores. Finally, the Bucs allowed 399 yards rushing and three rushing scores to opposing quarterbacks this season, which led to the fifth-most fantasy points allowed on the ground to the position.
All things considered, I would expect the Eagles to approach this game with the ground attack in the forefront of their minds, likely in an attempt to turn this game into a slugfest (reduce the number of possessions and total offensive plays). Lead back Miles Sanders missed Week 18 with a broken bone in his hand, while Boston Scott and Jordan Howard each missed the regular season finale on the COVID list. Both Scott and Howard were activated from the COVID list on Monday, meaning they should be all systems go for the Wildcard Round, while Sanders is tentatively expected to make his return to the lineup as well. The last game where all three were healthy was back in Week 16 against the Giants when the three split snaps almost in thirds (30% for Sanders, 32% for Scott, and 35% for Howard). Considering the fact that Sanders is the least healthy of the bunch, I would expect the snap allocation to look rather similar here, with rookie Kenneth Gainwell’s game-day status likely reliant on the health of Sanders. It is noteworthy that Philadelphia targeted the running back position at an above-average 23% rate this year, and when combined with the fact that Howard is basically a net-zero in the pass game, we should expect a handful of targets to flow through Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Other than that slight bump to expected floor for those two, this backfield is a messy situation through the lens of DFS. Finally, the rushing upside exhibited by quarterback Jalen Hurts this season should be on full display this week, with the caveat of the assumption of rational coaching in mind.
The Philadelphia pass game has devolved into a low volume, DeVonta-Smith-and Dallas-Goedert-focused offense that is highly reliant on efficiency. Smith has seen between four and seven targets in every game since Week 9, while Goedert typically fluctuated between six and nine targets. Of note, Goedert had three games over the final eight weeks where he saw four targets or below. The secondary options of Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and backup tight end Jack Stoll mixed in with varying snap rates in situational roles over the final half of the season, with each typically only good for a handful of looks in a standard week. The biggest trend amongst these pass-catchers was the shift away from Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor in primary roles over the final month of play, with the team instead electing for a heavier rotation of constantly-changing personnel packages. JJ Arcega-Whiteside was placed on IR after undergoing finger surgery earlier this week, which should condense the aforementioned rotation slightly.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
Quite a bit has changed for the Buccaneers since the last time these two teams played way back in Week 6, a game the Bucs controlled throughout (led 28-7 in the third quarter). Since then, Tampa Bay has lost Chris Godwin for the year, Antonio Brown to an in-game outburst leading to his release, Cyril Grayson to a hamstring injury, and Ronald Jones II to an ankle injury. Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard are expected back from IR in time for the weekend, Mike Evans has been battling through a hamstring injury sustained in Week 14, and Breshad Perriman is battling through a hip injury, leaving the team with depth concerns up and down the offensive side of the ball. Expect playoff Lenny to operate in a borderline workhorse role (at least as much as his hamstring will allow), Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Breshad Perriman to be the primary wide receivers in 11-personnel sets, Rob Gronkowski to serve as an every-down tight end, and Cameron Brate and OJ Howard to mix in for heavy packages. Tampa Bay led the league in overall pass rate over the second half of the season at 65% and led the league in pass rate when playing with a lead (61%) over the same timeframe, giving us a good idea of how they are likeliest to attack here.
Before being placed on IR following Week 15, Leonard Fournette amassed three straight weeks of 80% or more of the offensive snaps played, a stretch that led to 25, 21, and 26 running back opportunities, including 23 total targets (seven, eight, and eight). Assuming his hamstring holds up, we should expect playoff Lenny to see a commanding share of the workload from this backfield. The matchup on the ground yields an above-average 4.47 net-adjusted line yards metric against an Eagles defense allowing 26.3 fantasy points per game, including the third-most targets, to opposing backfields. It remains to be seen how the likely return of Giovani Bernard will influence Fournette’s workload, particularly in obvious passing situations, but I expect Bernard to be highly reliant on both situation and game flow.
The pass game is the clear and obvious sweet spot for this Buccaneers team, sprinting into the postseason having led the league in pass rate over the second half of the regular season. There are some interesting dynamics with this matchup, as the Eagles have forced the shallowest average depth of target this season, have blitzed at the second-lowest frequency, and have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. While we can’t simply expect the Bucs to not target Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, and Breshad Perriman, the combination of Darius Slay on Evans and a defense built to limit downfield passing plays into a likely increase in pass game volume for Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and the secondary tight ends and running backs. We’ll talk about this a bit more in the DFS+ section, but an interesting approach to one of the top offenses in the league is to pair Tom Brady and his heavy inherent volume with Fournette and Gronk.
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Likeliest Game Flow ::
It is likely we see this game start rather slow as the Eagles look to play keep away with the Bucs. Since we know the Eagles are likely to slow the game down through heavy rush rates and a mobile quarterback, the ultimate flow, pace, and environment come down to how successful they are in this endeavor. As in, we can expect the Bucs to play with pace and increased pass rates regardless of matchup and game flow because they lead the league in overall pass rate, and they check in second in pass rate when playing with a lead over the second half of the season, so the Eagles are likeliest to control the overall environment here. As such, the likeliest scenario leaves us with less plays in the first half than we would otherwise be used to, with the second half where things would open up should it be required from either side. It also deserves mention here that the philosophical offensive shift seen from the Eagles this season does not preclude them from passing heavily should the situation warrant, meaning if they’re trailing into the fourth quarter we’re liable to see an extremely pass-heavy approach.
XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN NOTES
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- PHI finished 25th in def pass DVOA
- Brady vs teams 25th or lower: 410:3:1 (NYJ) // 276:5, 368:4:1 (ATL) // 220:2:2 (WAS) // 297:2:1 (PHI)
- PHI allowed just five QBs all year to throw for 260+ yds (Mahomes, Brady, Carr, Herbert, Dak); Dak’s came against a lot of backups
- Brady has passed for 250+ yds in 12/17 games (9/17 over 300yds)
- Brady has scored multiple TDs in 13/17 games
- Since losing Godwin, Brady has gone: 232:1 // 410:3:1 // 326:3
- Brady in Wildcard last decade: 381:2 (WAS) // 209:0:1 (TEN) // 154:2:3 (BAL)
- PHI allowed the 2nd fewest WR DK pts/g (29.2) and 3rd fewest WR rec yds/g (130.7)
- WRs with 20+ DK pts vs PHI: Hill (186:3) // Brown (93:1) // Allen (104) // Moore (77:1) // Wilson (119:2)
- TB WRs since losing Godwin: Evans (–, 47:1, 89:2) // Brown (101, 26, –) // Johnson (0, 50, 22) // Grayson (81, 81:1, –) // Perriman (–, 41, 44)
- TB WRs vs PHI: Evans (2:27) // Godwin (5:43) // Brown (9:93:1)
- Evans had 0 rec vs Slay in 2017, and just 2:25 in the game
- Evans finished with 2:27 in W6 vs PHI, with all 3 of his targets coming against Slay
- Godwin (5) & Brown (13) combined for 18 tg in that game (no Gronk), but will not be playing this time around
- Gronk’s full games: 8:90:2 // 4:39:2 // 4:55 // 6:71 // 7:123 // 4:58:2 // 5:62 // 2:29 // 1:23 // 7:115 // 7:137
- Gronk has just two games below 8 tg all season (5, 2), (8, 8, 8, 10, 8, 9, 11, 10, 10)
- In Gronk’s absence, Howard (7) & Brate (4) saw 11 targets vs PHI in W6
- Stats in game: Howard (6:49:1) // Brate (3:26)
- Notable TEs vs PHI: Pitts (4:31) // Kittle (4:17) // Schultz (6:80:2) // Kelce (4:23) // Howard (6:49:1) // Moreau (6:60:1) // Hock (10:89) // LAC (11:126:2) // DEN (8:136) // Trautman (5:58:1) // Schultz (3:21:2)
- PHI allowed the 6th highest success rate to TEs
- PHI allowed the 2nd most TE DK pts/g (17.4) behind the most TE TDs allowed (14)
- 19 RBs have 40+ rush yds vs PHI, 9 RBs have 60+ rush yds
- PHI allowed the 7th most RB rush TDs (14)
- RBs with 15+ touches vs PHI (total yds:TDs): Davis (72) // Mitchell (53) // Zeke (116:2) // CEH (114:1) // Chuba (134) // Fournette (127:2) // Drake (79:1) // Swift (51) // Ekeler (82) // Ingram (113) // Saquon (53) // Coleman (77) // Gibson (65:1) // Saquon (28) // Patterson (98:1) // Zeke (90)
- Fournette had 15+ touches in 12/14 games
- Fournette had 6 games of 60+ rush yds (5 of 80+)
- PHI allowed the 3rd most RB rec and 8th most RB rec yds
- Fournette had 3+ rec in 13/14 games, 5+ rec in 7/14 games
- Fournette had 40+ rec yds in 6 games
- Fournette’s 2nd highest DK score of season came vs PHI (22:81:2, 6:46)
- Gio’s return could take some pass game work if TB finds themselves trailing more in this game, but Fournette still primarily dominated touches before Gio got hurt
- Fournette’s playoff career (touches:yds:TDs)::
- 2017 (JAC): 26:76 // 29:119:3 // 27:89:1
- 2020 (TB): 23:132:1 // 23:107:1 // 19:74:1 // 20:135:1
- In the first seven weeks, Hurts had between 22-32 DK pts in every game
- In the last eight weeks, Hurts had 20+ DK pts just twice (30.8, 29.6)
- Hurts threw 34+ att five times to start (35, 39, 48, 37, 34 / 23, 26)
- Hurts pass att since: 14, 17, 23, 24, 31, 26, 29, 26
- TB faces the most pass att/g (only team of 40+)
- Hurts vs TB in W6: 12/26 for 115:1:1, 10:44:2
- Hurts has multiple TDs in 10/15 games
- TB has allowed 2+ TDs to 9 QBs; 3+ TDs to 5 QBs
- Hurts has just one game below 30 rush yds
- Hurts has seven games above 60 rush yds
- QB rushing vs TB: Dak (13) // Hurts (44:2) // Fields (38) // Winston (40) // Heinicke (15) // Dimes (10) // Wentz (21) // Allen (109:1) // Taysom (33) // Cam (42)
- TB has the 2nd highest rate of pressure and the highest blitz rate per PFR
- Hurts has as many TDs vs the blitz and non-blitz despite less than half as many blitzed dropbacks
- PFF graded PHI’s pass blocking in the top 5 for 2021
- TB allowed 15 WRs of 60+ yds; 5 WRs of 100+ yds
- TB allowed the 4th most WR rec and the 11th most WR yds on the 3rd most WR tg
- Since Hurts started throwing less in W8, Smith has just two games of 70+ yds (his only two games with 5 rec in span)
- Smith targets through Week 7: 8 // 7 // 6 // 10 // 9
- Smith targets since Week 7: 3 // 6 // 6 // 6 // 4 // 4 // 5 // 7 // 6 // 4
- Smith has 15+ DK pts in 6 g: 19.1 // 22.2 // 15.7 // 25.6 // 22.6 // 19.0 (5 TDs in those games)
- Smith’s other 11 g: 3.6 // 5.8 // 5.1 // 11.1 // 2.5 // 10.1 // 4.2 // 3.5 // 7 // 8.4 // 7.1
- Smith vs TB: 2:31
- Quez Watkins has just 2 games of 10+ DK pts all year: 2:117 vs SF (91-yd catch) in W2 and 5:84:1 vs DAL (Minshew start) in W17
- PHI WR tg: Smith (104) // Quez (62) // Reagor (57)
- Yards without Ertz: 70 // 72 // 43 // 28 // 62 // 0 // 102:2 // 135 // 28 // 71
- With Goedert out, Ertz went for 4:29:1 vs TB in his last game as an Eagle
- TB allowed 14.2 & 14.0 DK pts/g to TEs in Bowles first two TB seasons
- TB allowed 12.6 DK pts/g to TEs in 2021
- TEs with 40+ yds vs TB: Schultz (45) // Pitts (73, 48) // Higbee (40:1) // Gesicki (43) // Kmet (43) // Doyle (81:1) // Knox (60:1)
- Other TEs to score vs TB: Henry, Jonnu, Ertz
- TB has allowed the fewest RB rush yds in each of the last three seasons under Bowles
- In 20 games last season, Kamara, CMC, & Cook were the only RBs to break 20 DK pts vs TB, and AK & CMC both needed 2 TDs to get there
- Gurley & AK were the only two RBs to break 20 DK pts in 2019 vs TB, and they combined for 17 rec in those 2 games
- TB has allowed four 20+ DK pt scores to RBs in 2021
- The four RBs: Patterson (7:11:1, 5:58:1) // Gaskin (5:25, 10:74:2) // Herbert (18:100, 5:33) // Gibson (24:64:2, 2:14)
- TB allowed the 2nd most RB rec in 2021 after allowing the most in 2020 (5th most RB rec yds allowed this year)
- Sanders had 105 rec yds in first four games; 53 rec yds total in 8 games since
- Sanders in W6 vs TB: 9:56, 2:10
- Sanders has no TDs this year
- Others with TDs: Scott (6) // Gainwell (6) // Howard (3)
- Sanders is the one who broke the 100-yd streak vs NOR in Hurts first start in 2020, a similarly annually stout run defense