Thursday Night Football Preview: Buccaneers at Rams
Thursday December 17, 2015
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ St. Louis Rams
One of these two teams is fighting for a playoff spot, and it’s not the Rams. The Bucs have been a pleasant surprise, but you could see that coming with their young talent despite their nightmarish 2014 campaign. Nonetheless, the Rams have been an unmitigated disaster. Of course the passing game is terrible; you don’t upgrade with Nick Foles. Still, it’s the defense that has been a major let down. They were predicted by many to be perhaps the best defense in the NFL. They’ve been hit with some significant injuries like those to Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn. With that said, they should still be better than this. They really need to put a quarterback on this team, though, or all their young talent will go to waste. Not having Jeff Fisher coach may help, too.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Key Players
QB Jameis Winston
This is an interesting matchup. After a disastrous Week 1 against draft rival and fellow Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Winston has really put together an excellent rookie season and showed a ton of promise. Personally, I believe he’s better than Mariota. Still, while the Rams defense isn’t as great as expected, they’re still very dangerous. Aaron Donald was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week and is an absolute monster on the line and Janoris Jenkins will be back on the outside. They have a lot of capable players that are no strangers to big plays.
Verdict: Sit Winston. Although, if you have to start him, he’s not a terrible option in deep leagues and is a must-start in two-QB leagues.
RB Doug Martin
I will be honest, I was not at all on board with Martin coming into this season. Now he is second in the league in rushing with over 1,200 yards already. Those are incredible numbers for the Muscle Hamster.
Verdict: Start Martin. He’s a must-start and the Rams are allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy running backs. He should kick your week off well.
WR Mike Evans
Vincent Jackson has been ruled out and in all likelihood he will not be back this season. This will lead to a very intriguing stretch for Evans. If he has the ability to be the guy many think is, he should thrive with the extra targets. However, he could also struggle due to more attention from defenders and game plans specifically designed to stop just him through the air.
Verdict: Start Evans. Our money is on him taking the next step. Hopefully he doesn’t make us look foolish. Either way, it should be fun to watch.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
ASJ should only benefit from Jackson’s absence. He should see more targets and defenses shouldn’t change enough to really impact him as a tight end.
Verdict: Start Seferian-Jenkins. There’s no reason to believe Winston won’t be getting him the ball often.
St. Louis Rams: Key Players
QB Case Keenum
Case Keenum or Nick Foles or whatever. Who cares? They’re both awful. Spoiler Alert: If you have to start a Rams quarterback this week, your season is more than likely over.
Verdict: Sit Keenum. Bad at football.
RB Todd Gurley
Despite missing time early in the season with a torn ACL, Gurley is fourth in the league with 975 rushing yards. He has been even better than advertised and should be in for a big game. He had slowed down as of late, until last week when he went off with 140 yards and two TDs. He’s a little banged up, but should be a full go.
Verdict: Start Gurley. Tampa has a pretty decent run defense, nevertheless, Gurley is a must-start just about every week.
WR Kenny Britt
Everyone not named Todd Gurley on the Rams is nothing more than spot filler. Merely here to take up space so we can pretend like they matter at all. This passing attack is so miserable.
Verdict: Sit Britt. He hasn’t lived up to expectations, much in part because of his own undoing. Still, despite talent, he has no one to get him the ball.
WR Tavon Austin
Austin has been much better than expected this season, still, there is no consistency here. His diversity gives him some value, just not starting him in the playoffs value.
Verdict: Sit Austin. He’s only worth a start in really deep leagues or if you are awarded points for return yards.
Tampa Bay: 24
St. Louis: 17
Buccaneers: Doug Martin
Rams: Todd Gurley