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FFL: Week 14 | NFL: Week 14

Saints-Buccaneers Preview

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Players: Drew Brees, Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Chris Godwin

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) carries on a pass reception ahead of Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) and defensive end Vic Beasley (44) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)


New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes under pressure from Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston passes during warmups before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Drew Brees looks at Tampa Bay and sees an opportunity for the New Orleans Saints to reassert themselves, though not necessarily because the Buccaneers have a young, inexperienced secondary.

The Bucs may rank last in the NFL in pass defense, but the veteran quarterback of the NFC South leaders - coming off a lopsided loss to the Atlanta Falcons - says he pays a lot more attention to game film than numbers while preparing for an opponent.

''I'm saying just in general, I don't look at statistics and then judge a defense or anyone based just on the statistics,'' Brees said. ''I'm going to turn on the tape, I'm going to trust what I see, and then I'm going to go out to execute according to that.''

The Bucs (3-6) lead the NFL in run defense, yielding just 77.8 yards per game on the ground. Conversely, they're allowing an average of 299 through the air while giving up a league-high 31 points per game.

And that's before coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht decided to part ways with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who was waived this week after being benched for a portion of last Sunday's 30-27 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

With a couple of other young, inexperienced players dealing with injuries, Tampa Bay probably will be forced to start three rookies (safety Mike Edwards, cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean) and a second-year player (safety Jordan Whitehead) in the defensive backfield against the Saints on Sunday.

Brees isn't assuming New Orleans (7-2) will have a clear-cut advantage.

''They're young, but they're talented,'' the 40-year-old quarterback said. ''Look at the investment that they've made in their secondary over the last three years with draft picks.''

Hargreaves was a first-round pick, No. 11 overall in 2016. In addition to selecting him, the Bucs used four second-round selections, two third-round picks and a pair of fourth-rounders on defensive backs over the past four years.

''Defensively, we're still a work in progress. ... All those young kids in the secondary are getting better and better,'' said Arians, whose team ended a four-game losing streak against Arizona.

Now, it's the division-leading Saints looking to rebound after being held without a touchdown in last week's 26-9 loss to last-place Atlanta.

New Orleans beat Tampa Bay 31-24 at home without an injured Brees (thumb) on Oct. 6. After facing the Bucs again, the Saints will complete a stretch of four consecutive games against NFC South foes by hosting Carolina and traveling to Atlanta.

Brees expects the Saints to play better Sunday.

''We were extremely disappointed in our performance (last week). I think we know we're a lot better than that and understand that, especially at this point in the season, this is a time when we really want to start separating ourselves from the pack,'' he said.

SECONDARY SHUFFLE

While the Saints held Bucs receiver Mike Evans without a catch in their last meeting, the defender who primarily covered Evans might not be able to play on Sunday. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore left last weekend's game with a pulled hamstring. The Saints moved P.J. Williams to cornerback and rookie C.J. Gardner Johnson into Williams' usual nickel back slot. The results were encouraging. Although the Saints lost, the Falcons finished with fewer than 200 net yards passing. Still, Saints coach Sean Payton is weary of Jameis Winston's ability to get the ball downfield to both Evans and Chris Godwin.

''Their passing numbers right now are outstanding when you look at (the Bucs' success rate on) third down, at what they're scoring,'' Payton said. ''So, changing up the looks, trying to affect him is important and then understanding, hey, how are the interceptions coming, how are the fumbles coming? All of those things you study.''

RESOUNDING MESSAGE

Hargreaves was due to earn $9 million next season, although it was guaranteed for injury only. While the impending salary was a factor in the decision to release the fourth-year pro, the move also reiterated one of Arians' points of emphasis in his first season with the Bucs.

''You control your attitude and your effort,'' the coach said. ''You don't control a lot of things, but you control those two - and they better be good.''

LINE ITEMS

Starting left guard Andrus Peat, a 2018 Pro Bowl selection and 2015 first-round pick, broke his arm during New Orleans' loss to Atlanta and had surgery this week. His recovery could keep him out until the final week of the regular season. Will Clapp, a second-year pro out of LSU, was first off the bench to replace Peat during the game. Clapp struggled, but so did much of the offensive line that day, when Brees was sacked six times. In addition to Clapp, the Saints have a couple of veterans who could sub in as needed: Nick Easton and Patrick Omameh. Easton was signed as a free agent when center Max Unger retired, but the Saints then acquired Texas A&M center Erik McCoy in the second round of last spring's draft and he won the job. Easton has played in just three games this season and was a healthy scratch last weekend, but that could change.

''Every season, you're going to have guys that go down for a period of time - you hope not too long, and you have to have guys step up and fill in,'' Brees said. ''I'm confident with the guys we have to do that.''

Player Notes
Melvin Gordon Dec 7 2:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been on a roll recently, and that train shouldn't slow down on Sunday against Jacksonville. Gordon has posted 90 or more yards from scrimmage in four straight games, and he's about to face one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire league. The Jaguars have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL, and Gordon has returned to his full form. Expect Gordon to be a linchpin in the Chargers offense this week, and he could be one of the highest-performing players across the league.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Dec 7 2:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has once again proven that he can still be a productive fantasy weapon even when Melvin Gordon is fully healthy and performing, and he should continue some of that production this week against a Jacksonville defense that is extremely susceptible to running backs. Ekeler has touched the ball 34 times in the last three games, and he's racked up 247 yards on those touches, averaging 7.27 yards per touch. He's also scored a pair of touchdowns, and fantasy owners should look for him to be attacking the end zone once again this week. Since Ekeler is officially a backup, there's always the possibility of a dud if the coaching staff decides to push the ball elsewhere, but his recent production more than warrants continued use.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Dec 7 1:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark has seen his role in the Jaguars offense fade some lately, but with rookie Gardner Minshew back at quarterback, Chark's in a good spot to get back to the level he was at early in the season. Chark averages more yards per reception with Minshew at quarterback and caught five touchdowns from the first-year passer. This week's meeting with the Chargers isn't a great one for Jacksonville's passing game, but if you're going to trust one of these receivers, it should be Chark.

From RotoBaller

Chris Conley Dec 7 1:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley has been incredibly consistent over the past three games, so if you need a fantasy wide receiver who'll catch four passes for 50 yards, Conley's the guy for you. He doesn't have tremendous upside and has just two touchdown receptions on the year, but his current role with the Jaguars does give him a solid floor. Sometimes, that's what you need.

From RotoBaller

Minnesota Vikings Dec 7 1:40pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings Defense is one of the top plays at the position in Week 14. They will square off with undrafted rookie quarterback David Blough and the Detroit Lions at home in an important divisional battle. Blough played well in a narrow loss to the Bears in his debut in Week 13, but he did throw an interception and took two sacks in the game. The Vikings average 2.8 sacks per game and have a chance to get after the rookie with the Lions offensive line struggling. The Vikings secondary has been atrocious lately and the Lions have some deep-threat weapons, but it's safe to count on Mike Zimmer's defense to rebound at home after last week's brutal effort against the Seattle Seahawks. Start them with confidence in Week 14 as they have a great chance at picking up sacks and turnovers for your fantasy squad.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Dec 7 1:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is a WR2 with a wide range of outcomes in Week 14. It's been up-and-down for Diggs since Adam Thielen (hamstring) has been out as he has registered three monster fantasy outputs while also mixing in three very modest efforts. Detroit has struggled to defend the pass this year as they rank 26th in pass DVOA and are in the bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to the position. Though Diggs will likely see a lot of Darius Slay in coverage, the Vikings will find ways to scheme him open as their top receiving option. It should be noted that the passing game volume could take a slight hit with the Vikings favored by 13 points at home. Keep Diggs locked in as a solid WR2 with elite upside and a lower floor than most receivers in his range.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Dec 7 1:20pm ET

Don't let his touchdown reception last week fool you; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook has had limited upside all season and while he's unlikely to bottom out like he did in Gardner Minshew's first game as quarterback for the Jags, he's not a great option in Minshew's return to the starting role. Westbrook's targets and yardage have been smaller than most expected coming into this season, which makes it difficult to trust him, especially in shallower leagues.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Dec 7 1:00pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should be in line for a solid performance in Sunday's meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers allow the ninth-most PPR points to opposing running backs, and while in years past that PPR part of the equation wouldn't mean much to Fournette, he's been targeted 23 times in the passing game over the last two weeks. He's going to get a lot of touches on Sunday, and the Chargers are a team that he can exploit. Feel confident using Fournette as an RB1.

From RotoBaller

Olabisi Johnson Dec 7 12:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson remains in the mix as the Vikings No. 2 receiver with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out. Johnson had been playing at least 70% of snaps every week Thielen has missed, but he put up a 56% snap count in Week 13 as Laquon Treadwell carved out an increased role. Johnson finished with one catch for one yard in a loss to the Seahawks. "Bisi" has a much better chance to produce this week as the Lions Defense has gotten torched all season and shutdown corner Darius Slay will likely stick with Stefon Diggs all game long. As a reminder, Johnson is one game removed from catching six of nine targets for 35 yards in a comeback win over the Broncos in Week 11. There could be some volume concerns this week with the Vikings favored by 13 points, but Johnson is the Vikings backup receiver to take a chance on if you're in desperate need.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Dec 7 12:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had his best game in a month last week when he completed 69% of his passes, but the Chargers still found a way to lose at the last second. This week, he'll face a porous Jacksonville defense that has been sliding recently. Though mediocre for the season, the Jaguars have fallen apart recently, allowing 26 or more points in four straight games. They've been ripped by opposing quarterbacks, allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the last month. With LA desperately looking to nail down a win after so many close losses, expect Rivers to have the opportunity for a big game.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Dec 7 12:30pm ET

The New York Giants ruled out both tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) for Monday night. That means Kaden Smith will get another start. He could be put into DFS Showdown slates, but he's not a recommended option in season-long playoffs given the Giants' full complement of healthy wide receivers.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Dec 7 12:30pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will miss Monday night's game with an ankle injury. As has been expected all week, Eli Manning will get the start and becomes a low-end QB2 option in season-long leagues. This improves Saquon Barkley's value a little since Manning dumps off to running backs more than he runs, but it doesn't do much to the value of the Giants' wide receivers. Perhaps a slight bump down for Golden Tate since the two have never played together.

From RotoBaller

Laquon Treadwell Dec 7 12:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell will likely see extended playing time again this week in the absence of top wideout Adam Thielen (hamstring). Treadwell caught one of his two targets for a wide-open 58-yard score last week, but he should not be considered as a starting option in Week 14. The fourth-year wideout has seen one or zero targets in five of his seven games played - that fact alone should have you looking elsewhere for desperation streaming options. He'll compete with Olabisi Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook for (likely) limited targets behind Stefon Diggs this week. If you must have a backup receiver from this game, look to Johnson with his higher snap count and target-share.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Dec 7 12:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew is the starter again, but his first start since reclaiming that role comes in a bad situation. The Jags play the Chargers, who've allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season. The safest bet for you in a season-long fantasy league is to do what you can to avoid playing Minshew this week, though he's not the worst option in a two-quarterback league. He threw for 147 yards and a touchdown in one half of play against Tampa.

From RotoBaller

Kirk Cousins Dec 7 12:20pm ET

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is in line for a big game in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions. Cousins has become a model of consistency, tossing multiple touchdowns in seven of his last eight games played and completing 69.3% of his passes to this point in the season (at 8.5 yards per attempt). The Detroit Lions Defense has been getting demolished by opposing fantasy quarterbacks all season, including in Week 7 when Cousins exploded for 338 yards and four touchdowns. The only possible concern for his outlook this week is volume as the Vikings are favored by 13 points and may look to lean on the run. He'll need David Blough and the Lions offense to put up some points in order to approach his ceiling this week, which shouldn't be counted on. Still, start Cousins as a low-end QB1 in this extremely favorable matchup at home.

From RotoBaller

Will Fuller Dec 7 12:10pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) isn't even a guarantee to suit up against Denver in Week 14, but if he does, he faces a Broncos Defense that's allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Fuller played 75 percent of Houston's snaps last week, but had just one catch for eight yards. His other target was an end zone one that was initially ruled a touchdown, but two targets for the speedster isn't great. I'd expect we see a little more usage if he plays this week, but if he's not at 100 percent, it'll be tough to trust him in your lineups in shallower leagues.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills Dec 7 12:10pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills caught his first touchdown since Week 1 in last week's meeting with New England, but his inconsistent role means you're unlikely to get much out of him in Week 14 against Denver. If Will Fuller (hamstring) misses the game, Stills has value, but it's worth noting that Stills has 50 or more receiving yards in just four games this year and has major fantasy downside.

From RotoBaller

Darren Fells Dec 7 12:10pm ET

Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells caught another touchdown last week. He also finished with two catches for 23 yards, his fourth game in a row with two or fewer catches. It's clear that Fells has a very defined role in this offense: quarterback Deshaun Watson will look for him near the goal line or in short yardage situations, and that's about it. Of his 28 catches, nine were in the red zone, and seven of those went for touchdowns. If you need a prayer, Fells is as likely as any non-elite tight end to score, but he won't put up huge yardage totals, so you're assuming a lot of risk.

From RotoBaller

Duke Johnson Dec 7 12:00pm ET

Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson saw his most targets and tied for his most carries of the season against the Patriots in Week 13 while playing a season-high 67 percent of offensive snaps, a sign that the pass-catching back might be moving towards a larger role in this offense. That gives him some intriguing upside in Week 14 against a Denver team that's done better against running backs on the ground than through the air. This could be a game that favors Johnson over teammate Carlos Hyde, though Johnson's still no more than a PPR RB3 because of the downside he presents, like the fact that in Weeks 11 and 12 he combined for just 12 receiving yards.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Dec 7 12:00pm ET

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins faces a tough one on Sunday, as Houston faces a Broncos team that allows the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Add in that Hopkins has been targeted eight times in each of the last two games after a five-game stretch with double-digit targets and you get some reason for concern. Not enough concern to even think about benching Hopkins, as his upside is just too big. Maybe you don't play him in your DFS lineup this week because of the matchup, but you have to play him in season-long leagues and hope his talent and his usage help him to a strong day.

From RotoBaller