There is little doubt that the Buccaneers are one of the best stories in the NFL this year. They’ve already matched their season win total from 2009. They’ve also provided fantasy owners with some surprising options.
New Orleans, the defending Super Bowl Champions, meanwhile, have struggled to find the rhythm that made them so dominant in 2009. Last week, Drew Brees hit Robert Meachem on a 50-yard bomb. Was that a sign of the team getting on track or merely a blip on what could turn into a forgettable season? The fate of many fantasy football teams ride on that question.
What about this game, New Orleans at Tampa Bay? We’ve got projections to help you decide your start/sit questions. Let’s get to it.
Other fantasy football previews with projections: ATL@PHI | SD@STL | NO@TB | DET@NYG | MIA@GB | SEA@CHI | BAL@NE | CLE@PIT | KC@HOU | NYJ@DEN | OAK@SF | DAL@MIN | IND@WAS | TEN@JAX | (Teams on bye: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Carolina)
New Orleans is projected to score 20.8, 1 point more than the Buccaneers (19.8).
Tampa Bay hasn’t allowed more than 236 yards passing in any game this season and has held three of their four opponents under 210 yards. With Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush being replaced by Julius Jones and LaDell Betts, don’t be surprised if Brees is forced to test the passing waters anyway. Expect him to get picked off at least once, too. The Bucs have nine interceptions in four games and have 12 takeaways overall.
The one advantage the Saints ragtag RBs have is facing a Buccaneers run defense that is last in the NFC in yards allowed (143.2). With that kind of matchup, we’re likely to find out exactly how the Saints will use the newly acquired Jones. The move is either a sign that Pierre Thomas won’t be healthy any time soon, or it’s a vote of no confidence in Betts or Christopher Ivory.
Josh Freeman doesn’t have a beneficial matchup. New Orleans has held three of its opponents’ passing games to under 175 yards this season. Rookie Arrelious Benn started for Tampa Bay last week. Look for him to get more involved in the offense opposite leading receiver Mike Williams.
While the passing game might struggle, the Saints could provide a nice canvas for RB Cadillac Williams and company to paint on. The Saints allowed 460 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in Weeks 2-4.
Drew Brees, NO: 23-35, 247 yards, 1.9 TD, 1.7 INT
Josh Freeman, TB: 18-30, 212 yards, 1.0 TD, 0.8 INT, 25 rush yards, .2 TD
Cadillac Williams, TB: 65 yards, .3 TD, 2 catches, 15 receiving yards
LaDell Betts, NO: 40 yards, .3 TD, 2 catches, 10 receiving yards
Julius Jones, NO: 40 yards, .3 TD, 1 catch, 5 receiving yards
Earnest Graham, TB: 20 yards, .2 TD, 2 catches, 20 receiving yards
LeGarrette Blount, TB: 5 yards, .2 TD
Pierre Thomas, NO (injury concern): 5 yards
Marques Colston, NO: 5-60, .4 TD
Mike Williams, TB: 4-50, .3 TD
Lance Moore, NO: 3-45, .3 TD
Devery Henderson, NO: 3-40, .4 TD
Robert Meachem, NO: 3-40, .4 TD
Arrelious Benn, TB: 3-40, .1 TD
Sammie Stroughter, TB: 2-20, .1 TD
Michael Spurlock, TB: 1-20
Kellen Winslow, TB: 4-50, .5 TD
Jeremy Shockey, NO: 5-40, .3 TD
David Thomas, NO: 3-20, .1 TD
Garrett Hartley, NO: 1.4 FG, 2.3 XP
Connor Barth, TB: 1.4 FG, 2.2 XP
Buccaneers: 1.2 sack, 1.7 INT, 0.8 fumble recovery
Saints: 2.4 sack, 0.8 INT, 0.9 fumble recovery