XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Monday Night Football has the Saints visiting the Bucs for a 40.5 total game with Tampa favored by 3.5. So, we’re expecting a bit of a snoozefest, but there’s money to be made and my job is to help you make it! The Saints under Andy Dalton have put up 22 points per game, but just 12.5 in their last four. Is the Dalton magic wearing off? Meanwhile, the Bucs, off a bye, put up only 17 points against Cleveland, despite the game going to overtime, and with Cleveland being one of the league’s worst defenses. Eek. The Bucs are, of course, a very strong defense (14th in run defense DVOA, 6th in pass defense, 7th overall), while the Saints have slipped this season to the middle of the pack at 15th overall, 12th against the pass, and 21st against the run. Let’s figure this one out.
On the Tampa side, Leonard Fournette is off the injury report and so the question is, what will his role be? Last week, Rachaad White took on a full bell cow role, playing 90% of the snaps and seeing 14 carries and nine (!) targets. He ran for 4.6 yards per carry (Fournette is at 3.4 on the season and only matched White’s YPC in one game this year) and caught all nine of those targets. So, does Fournette move back on top of the hierarchy, or has White seized the RB1 role? I don’t know, but, my money’s on White. His role had been growing throughout the season already as Fournette underperformed. The risk here is just the “veteran” thing, and we know that Tom Brady likes “his guys” who he trusts, and Fournette is on that list but my guess here is that White has earned his place on it as well. My best guess is that it’s more of a split than we saw last week and that White operates as the 1A with Fournette as the 1B. This is a situation where I’d be wary of playing them together, and while I don’t think I’d group them out entirely in flex spots, I would avoid one if captaining the other and would set up a rule that gives a negative boost to one if the other is in the lineup.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Bucs will trot out Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in full-time roles with Julio Jones at WR3 splitting time with Russell Gage (if he’s active) or some combination of Scotty Miller and/or Breshad Perriman. Marshon Lattimore is likely to play in this one for the Saints, and while I normally don’t overly worry about individual cornerback matchups, Lattimore has a long history with Evans and has largely contained him. In 16 games against the Saints, Evans has a total of 791 receiving yards and five touchdowns and has only put up 20+ Draftkings points in two of those games. That’s a pretty sizable sample, and regardless of who has been at quarterback, the Saints have had Evans’ number. Now if Evans is going to come in at low ownership, I wouldn’t really worry about this, because we know his ceiling is elite, but when he’s priced cheaper than Chris Godwin and on a one-game slate, I expect we see Evans on around 40-50% of rosters. At that ownership, it’s a spot I want to come in underweight on and hope he drags down a large chunk of the field with him (and yes, it’s a scary spot to fade – it could absolutely kill me). I lean towards Godwin, whose shorter-area role gives him an elite floor but who also sees enough volume to have a real ceiling. Julio’s cheap enough to be perfectly viable despite limited volume (we’ve seen he still has big play ability at this point in his career with some long catches this year), and I think Gage is a really strong option if he’s active at just $4,600. If Gage is inactive, Miller and Perriman can be used in MME pools (I guess they still can be used if Gage plays, they’re just even thinner than normal). At tight end, Cade Otton has earned his way into a split with Cam Brate, which makes them both pretty mediocre. My preference is (significantly) for Otton, who is both cheaper and has shown more per-catch upside this season. He’s reasonable as a value play, but if Brate plays (I assume he will but he has a Q tag with an illness currently), he’s not a smash value option. If Brate misses, Otton would become a smash value option. Ko Kieft snagged a touchdown last week but only has six targets on the season; he creeps into tourney viability if Brate misses.