Fantasy Football: Thursday Night Football Starts and Sits


Week Five of the NFL regular season will bring some terrific matchups for fantasy football owners. Here is a preview of what should be a terrific contest.

Week Five of the NFL regular season cannot get here fast enough and there are a multitude of favorable fantasy football matchups. Week Four was a rough one for players and owners alike however Week Five should also boast some fireworks.

On Thursday Night Football the New England Patriots will enter Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In a lot of ways, this game is a lot like the Patriots last game against the Carolina Panthers as some of the matchup similarities are uncanny.

The Buccaneers are coming off of a big win against the New York Giants that should prove very valuable by the end of the season. Which fantasy football players will be productive? Let’s take a look.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady (Quarterback): Brady much like a lot of the Patriots this week is a must start. If you drafted Brady you were probably starting him anyway but this matchup will be more favorable than usual.

The Buccaneers secondary is hurting, well more or less, the WHOLE defense is pretty banged up. Brady and company should take full advantage of this and the short week of preparation. Expect number 12 to come out swinging on Thursday.

Rob Gronkowski (Tight End): The only reason Gronk did not score as much as he has been over the course of the last two weeks is that he could not get into the end zone. The Patriots star tight end has seen 24 targets in the last three weeks alone and has gained over 80 yards in each of those games as well. As far as tight ends go, Gronk is the most productive by a mile, he is a must-start.

Brandin Cooks/Danny Amendola/Chris Hogan (Wide Receivers): The Patriots wide receivers have had an interesting season and while they typically drive fantasy owners crazy, they have been fairly stable.

Cooks has been the go-to deep threat for Tom Brady and that should have fantasy football owners singing his praises. The main issue is that there are a ton of mouths to feed and the Patriots are typically ahead in games.

This means sometimes Cooks is not needed as much thus his total point differential varies a bit. He is averaging between 4-7 targets per game which is a pretty tolerable amount. He should be on track for a pretty big game in Week Five.

Weeks Two and Four, Cooks served up some modest performances but he should return to prominence against a banged up Buccaneers secondary. Amendola is averaging around 5-7 targets per game and is quietly one of Brady’s most reliable targets on the field.

The main issue is his durability as he takes a lot of hard shots. Amendola may not have the same level of production as Cooks however he is a quality flex start every week he is healthy.

Hogan is seemingly ahead of Amendola on the depth chart and continues to impress for fantasy football owners. He has played running back, but really is the most versatile wide receiver on the roster. He is a quality WR3 that will strengthen any lineup on any given week.

Mike Gillislee (Running Back): Hard to trust, just like every other Patriots running back. Gillislee is touchdown dependent and the Panthers are very tough along the goal line. It is not really on him this week as Carolina was starving for a win.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Gillislee has been forgettable however things should open up on Thursday when he faces a banged up Buccaneers team that should allow him to get into the end zone.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston (Quarterback): Winston was on fire against the New York Giants and served up three touchdowns that gave the Gmen their fourth straight loss of the season. The Giants defense is elite and typically gives young quarterbacks problems, that was not the case on Sunday as the Buccaneers offense had all of the answers.

Winston played a brilliant game where he had over 30 fantasy points and accumulated over 300 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. This week he will go up against a Patriots team that has a joke of a defense and allowed Cam Newton to have his best game of the season. Winston will be a QB1 start this week.

Mike Evans/DeSean Jackson(Wide Receivers): The universe clearly did not want Mike Evans to have his second touchdown of the day on Sunday as his second end zone score was surprisingly overturned.

The big gain still set up the Buccaneers to score but for fantasy owners the pain was real. Evans has been one of the most productive wide receivers in fantasy football over his first three games and should continue to see double-digit targets.

He is the best red zone option for the Buccaneers and will continue to be Winston’s go-to target. Jackson has a terrific matchup but he and Winston have not yet seemed to get on the same page.

He was the best option during the matchup against Minnesota because of the tight coverage of Xavier Rhodes. This game should have been similar but the height of Evans was too much for the Giants defense to handle.

In this matchup it is all systems go for all of the Buccaneers wide receivers as the group should be effective no matter the coverage. The Patriots defense have not been able to stop productive wide receivers from having big days, that should not change in this matchup especially on the road.

Next: Fantasy Football starters Week Four

Doug Martin/Jacquizz Rodgers/Charles Sims (Running Backs): STAY AWAY. Seriously this backfield will be a nightmare moving forward. Martin should get all of the touches but nothing the coaching staff has said recently will make anyone feel better. Plus running the football is not what gets the Buccaneers the W it is the passing game.

Cameron Brate (Tight End): Back to back weeks with a touchdown for Brate as he begins to look more and more like a TE1 option every week. Brate burned the Giants for big yardage and was a constant threat in the end zone. Would not be surprising to see him come away with another score in his matchup with the Patriots.