Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Thursday Night Football
Tampa Bay @ St. Louis
The game total on Bucs-Rams is 41 points with St. Louis favored by one. Visiting Tampa Bay has a team total of 20 points. … An early-game deficit and New Orleans’ time-of-possession dominance (37:22) limited Doug Martin to 11 carries in last Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Now on four days rest, it’s conceivable last week’s light workload will work to Martin’s benefit Thursday night. The Rams showed run-defense leakiness in Weeks 12-14, permitting 375 yards on 78 carries (4.81 YPC) to Lions, Cardinals, and Bengals running backs. Game flow should also favor Martin with St. Louis’ league-worst offense unlikely to put the Bucs in a significant hole. Ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,214), Martin should be viewed as a high-floor RB1 play in Week 15. … Opposing quarterbacks have gone 122-of-181 passing (67.4%) for 1,391 yards (7.69 YPA) with an 11:4 TD-to-INT ratio against Jeff Fisher‘s defense over its last five games. Although the injury-decimated Rams pose an average-or-better matchup for enemy passers, Jameis Winston has not shown a high enough ceiling to be taken seriously as a QB1 streamer. Winston has thrown multiple touchdown passes in just one of the last seven weeks and ranks 25th among quarterbacks in pass attempts per game. In a Thursday night matchup where neither team figures to score many points, Winston is only worth discussion in two-QB leagues.
Whereas Mike Evans has averaged 7.6 targets with Vincent Jackson in the lineup this year, his target totals when Jackson missed three games with a midseason knee injury were 9, 19, and 13. Jackson (MCL) is likely done for the season. This is still a difficult matchup for Evans with RCB Janoris Jenkins (concussion) tentatively on track to start and LCB Trumaine Johnson coming off a Week 14 shutdown of Calvin Johnson (1-16-0). It should also be noted that Evans’ target totals sans Jackson occurred with Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) on the shelf. Evans still warrants WR2 treatment in the Edward Jones Dome. … The Rams began the year using SS T.J. McDonald and WLB Alec Ogletree in tight end coverage. Both are now on injured reserve. Although ASJ’s playing time remains a concern on a short week, it would be fair to argue that Seferian-Jenkins has the best on-paper matchup among Bucs skill players Thursday night. ASJ’s snap rate did jump from 29% in Week 13 to 45% in last Sunday’s loss to New Orleans, while Seferian-Jenkins drew six targets in both games. In the absence of Jackson, ASJ should see five to eight targets in St. Louis and is a passable TE1 streamer. … The Bucs will turn to UDFAs Donteea Dye and Adam Humphries as complementary receivers against the Rams. Both can be ignored in fantasy.
The Rams’ team total is 21 points. … Having posted offensive totals of 18, 13, 13, 7, 3, and 14 points in its last six games, St. Louis’ lone projectable means of hitting its scoring approximation is Todd Gurley, who last week destroyed a previously red-hot Lions defense for 147 yards and two TDs on 17 touches. The Bucs also enter this one playing shutdown run defense with a top-five ranking in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and a combined 189-587-1 (3.11 YPC) rushing line allowed to enemy running backs since their Week 6 bye. Much like Adrian Peterson against Arizona on Thursday night in Week 14, Gurley is a volume- and talent-driven fantasy bet versus Tampa Bay. … Tavon Austin‘s low volume and movable gadget-player usage have made him an impossible player to try to forecast on a weekly basis. In interim OC Rob Boras‘ debut game as St. Louis’ offensive playcaller last week, Austin parlayed seven touches into 59 total yards and logged 75% of the Rams’ snaps. Austin will pay fantasy dividends if he rips off a big play or two against the Bucs. He’ll hurt you if he doesn’t. … With Case Keenum at quarterback, the rest of St. Louis’ pass catchers can be ignored in fantasy lineup decisions. In a “passing league,” the Rams have two passing touchdowns since their Week 6 bye. For what it’s worth, this is Keenum’s target distribution on the year: Austin and Kenny Britt 10; Jared Cook 7; Wes Welker 6; Lance Kendricks 5; Benny Cunningham and “Bradley Marquez” 3; Gurley and Tre Mason 2.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Rams 17