Guest of the League
GSOFFL Est. 2010
FFL: Playoff Week 1 | NFL: Week 14

Saints-Buccaneers Preview

1573762556

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
Jason Myers Dec 9 4:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks kicker Jason Myers missed his first kick in four weeks when he missed an extra point in Seattle's Sunday night loss to the Rams. Myers' missed kick came after a pick-six by Quandre Diggs, and while it hurts to see any missed chances at points, Seattle's offense was so pitiful that the miss proved inconsequential. Myers has been money since his meltdown against the Bucs, and hopefully this will just be a minor blip. He did drill both field goals he attempted in the game, so maybe that'll help keep his confidence up and keep him focused.

From RotoBaller

Shaquem Griffin Dec 9 4:00am ET

Seattle Seahawks free safety Quandre Diggs continued to turn fans into believers by snagging a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six, in Seattle's loss to the Rams. Both of Diggs' interceptions came on back-to-back possessions, and he now has three interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in just four games. The Seahawks Defense certainly wasn't at its best on Sunday night, but with the offense doing it zero favors, it put up a pretty strong performance. Also of note, one-handed feel-good story Shaquem Griffin continues to be a revelation since he moved into a more pass-rushing role. He's given a huge boost to Seattle's pass rush as of late.

From RotoBaller

D.K. Metcalf Dec 9 3:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf was targeted six times on Sunday night, and he hauled in all six passes. That's the first time in his career that he's caught every pass thrown his way, and it further accentuates the growth he's had as a receiver this season. Unfortunately, Seattle lost the game and Metcalf was held without a touchdown, but improved catching is a wonderful bit of growth for the rookie. Metcalf now sits at 783 yards receiving on 50 catches, and he's been able to score five touchdowns. For a guy who was thought to just be a workout warrior, it's been quite the impressive rookie campaign.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Dec 9 3:50am ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett caught four passes for 43 yards on Sunday night against the Rams, but he's clearly still hampered by the combination of the serious shin contusion and flu. Lockett seemed to struggle to get open on critical downs, and Russell Wilson was forced to turn to less dependable options for some throws. Lockett's connection with Wilson is famous, so it's logical to conclude that the injury/illness are still affecting his play. It's unclear if the coaching staff will address it in any way or continue to run him out there, but the Seahawks will need him completely healthy if their offense is resume the high-flying act it was at the start of the year.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Dec 9 3:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a rough night on Sunday when he was one of many players on the team who struggled. Wilson took five sacks and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season. The shellacking by the Rams came to a head on third downs when it felt like Wilson was bombarded by defensive lineman from the moment the ball was snapped. With Seattle moving to 10-3, the team will be trying to bounce back and officially punch their ticket to the playoffs when they face the Carolina Panthers next week. Hopefully, they can have more energy and focus in Charlotte than they had in LA.

From RotoBaller

Chris Carson Dec 9 3:40am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson was able to rack up 91 scrimmage yards on Sunday night, but like the rest of the Seattle offense, he was unable to find the end zone. Carson was forced to pick up the slack after backfield-mate Rashaad Penny went down with a significant knee injury early in the first quarter, but offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seemed uninterested in leaning on Seattle's run game. Carson only carried the ball 15 times, his second-fewest times in the last 10 games, even though he was averaging more than five yards per carry. Hopefully, the team will get back to giving him the rock next week when they head to Carolina.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Dec 9 3:30am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny looks to be lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in Sunday night's loss to the Rams. Head coach Pete Carroll told the media that Penny sprained his ACL at the end of his first play of the night, and while the team doesn't know how serious it is just yet, Carroll ominously described it as "significant." Penny had just started to live up to his billing, stepping up huge in two straight games, but this injury will be yet another setback for the young running back. With Seattle almost guaranteed a playoff spot, perhaps there's a chance the youngster could come back for some postseason football, but it depends on what the team finds out in the next few days.

From RotoBaller

Derek Watt Dec 9 3:20am ET

Los Angeles Chargers fullback Derek Watt is easily the least-known member of the trio of NFL brothers, but he got on the board on Sunday when he hauled in a one-yard touchdown against Jacksonville. Watt is one of a number of bruising fullbacks that have appeared in the league in the last couple years as the position has undergone a resurgence, but this was his first time being the man to haul the rock over the goal line. Watt them followed it up with a solid end zone celebration of a dog being let off its leash, and it's a sure thing that he had many a celebratory phone call with the family after the game.

From RotoBaller

Michael Badgley Dec 9 3:20am ET

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley knocked through the only field goal try he had all day, but it turned out that it wasn't much needed. The Chargers walloped the Jaguars for 45 points, topping their last two performances combined, and Badgley found himself drilling extra points all day instead of field goals. Badgley knocked six extra points through without incident, and his 40-yarder was no sweat either. Badgley has now made seven of his last eight kicks from within 50 yards, and he hasn't missed an extra point all season. He's not going for any records, but he's still been one of the best kickers in Chargers recent history.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Dec 9 3:20am ET

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa hadn't recorded a sack in over a month coming into Sunday, but he took care of that problem. Bosa dropped Gardner Minshew twice in his team's throttling of the Jags, and he also did a beautiful job of holding running back Leonard Fournette behind the line of scrimmage by his ankle on what could have been a big gainer. Bosa was a wrecking crew up front, regularly ending up around the ball, and the Chargers Defense dominated the Jaguars. They only allowed 10 points, and their offense took care of the rest. It was the smallest point total they held an opponent to since Week 4.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Dec 9 3:10am ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry was one of a host of players to catch touchdowns against the Jaguars on Sunday, and his was the easiest of the bunch. For some reason, Jacksonville completely lost track of Henry late in the second quarter, and he caught a pass from Philip Rivers where he was so wide open that no defenders were even on the screen on the broadcast. A couple small secondary members met him just before he reached the goal line, but Henry easily ran through the tiny would-be tacklers. The touchdown was Henry's fourth of the season, and he continues to be a very productive member of the offense when healthy.

From RotoBaller

Virgil Green Dec 9 3:10am ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Virgil Green got in on the action in the team's steamroll of the Jacksonville defense on Sunday. Green got the honor of putting the final nail in the coffin when he caught a wide-open touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor early in the fourth quarter. It was Green's first regular season touchdown catch since the first week of October in 2018, though Green did haul one in during the team's playoff game against the Patriots last year. Green is much more well known for his blocking prowess, so this TD was a surprise gift to the ninth-year pro.

From RotoBaller

Keenan Allen Dec 9 3:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen caught five of his passes sent his way on Sunday, tallying up 83 yards in the team's massive win over the Jaguars. Allen snagged a quick pass over the middle and led defenders on a long foot race to rack up a 45-yard gainer at one point. His 83 yards was the most receiving yards he's recorded in a game in over two months, and while he was held out of the end zone once again, it was good just to see him break free on a couple of routes. The 45-yarder was also Allen's longest single catch this season. He'll have a tougher matchup next week when he faces the stout Vikings Defense, but he's only been held to less than five catches once in his last six games. He should find a way to get his.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Dec 9 3:00am ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams didn't see a lot of chances on Sunday, but he fought to make his couple of opportunities count. With the team already up by 21 points late in the third quarter, Williams' number got pulled when Philip Rivers lofted a deep ball to the end zone on a long third down. Williams snatched at the ball and tumbled to the ground with both arms securely hanging on to it. Only problem was that the Jacksonville defender had both his arms around it too. The officials ruled that the catch was good, and Williams had officially broken his touchdown drought with his first of the season. Williams' only complication is the assortment of weapons available to Rivers on his offense. Otherwise, Williams is everything a team could want in a star receiver.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Dec 9 2:50am ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor saw his first extended action on Sunday night as he was called upon to close out the thrashing the Chargers were delivering in Jacksonville. Taylor took full advantage, tossing his first touchdown of the year to tight end Virgil Green. Taylor completed three of five passes in his quarter of play, and he looked comfortable and relaxed in the pocket. Taylor has been in the news recently as a possible insert if Philip Rivers were to be benched for poor play, but Rivers has turned it around just in time. That said, Rivers is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season, so there's an outside chance Taylor could find himself in a starting role next year.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Dec 9 2:40am ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler stole the show in Jacksonville as he single-handedly routed the Jaguars Defense. Ekeler finished the night with 101 yards rushing on just eight carries and 112 yards receiving on four catches. He's the first player this season to rack up 100+ yards in both disciplines in the same game, and he made highlight reels across the country by gashing through the defense on every opportunity. His money moment came when he caught a pass at his own 14-yard line, two yards behind the line of scrimmage, and didn't stop running until he reached the opposite end zone, completely untouched along the way. Ekeler's playmaking ability is unmatched, even if he isn't officially the starter.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Dec 9 2:40am ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers celebrated his 38th birthday with some flair as he demolished the Jaguars. Rivers set a new personal best with an 84-yard touchdown pass (86 yards of which was provided by Austin Ekeler), and he finished with 314 yards on just 16 completed passes. Rivers has had more than his fair share of rocky performances this year, but he's also completed more than 65% of his passes and is on pace to have the third-most prolific season of his career, yards-wise. Rivers isn't a superstar anymore, but he's still not quite ready for the trash heap.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Dec 9 2:40am ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon wasn't the talk of the town after Sunday's game against the Jaguars, but he was still productive for fantasy owners. Gordon only touched the ball 17 times in the team's rout of Jacksonville, but it was enough to get him a touchdown. He combined for 84 total scrimmage yards, and he averaged more than 4.6 yards per carry on the ground. It wasn't a whole lot compared to Austin Ekeler's ridiculous performance as his counterpart, but Gordon still held up his end of the bargain. Expect a tougher time next week against Minnesota, but Gordon should still be one the key players in the game.

From RotoBaller

Robbie Gould Dec 9 12:20am ET

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould knocked in two field goals and six extra points in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. The Niners offense was on fire with 48 points on Sunday and Gould benefited, punching in all his opportunities. Gould played the hero in the waning seconds with a walk-off 30-yard field goal to clinch the victory for the road Niners. Back from his lengthy quadriceps injury, Gould is a fine kicking option down the fantasy stretch.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Dec 9 12:00am ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks had no catches on two targets in Week 14. Cooks has shriveled in the game plan since he returned from a concussion, and he can't be used in fantasy right now.

From RotoBaller