Last updated: December 12th at 9:15am ET
Team Totals: Bucs 25, Lions 22
Jameis Winston was cleared early in the week to start at Detroit after missing six snaps in Week 14’s shootout win over the Colts to attend to a hairline fracture in his right (throwing) thumb. While the injury combined with Mike Evans’ (hamstring) loss are causes for concern, otherwise this game sets up as the ultimate Winston smash spot. Jameis plays his best ball against man coverage – which the Lions run at the NFL’s second-highest rate – and has thrown 22 of his 26 touchdown passes in clean pockets; Detroit ranks 29th in sack rate (5.0%) and dead last in QB Hit Rate (11.5%). This game also lacks weather concerns beneath Ford Field’s dome. … Although Ronald Jones’ 15 touches edged out Peyton Barber (13) and Dare Ogunbowale (5) in last week’s victory, Jones played just 35% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps and remains entrenched in a three-man committee. The good news is Detroit has been trampled for an average of 156.3 total yards and 19 touchdowns by enemy backs in 13 games, and this is a game Tampa Bay could potentially control against the David Blough-quarterbacked Lions, who are missing key skill-position players T.J. Hockenson, Marvin Jones, and Kerryon Johnson. Jones’ floor is never safe – we’ve seen Bruce Arians bench him at a moment’s notice – but he makes for a compelling DFS-tournament start with big-play potential in a cupcake draw. He’s a boom-bust RB2/flex play in season-long leagues.
With Evans sidelined, Chris Godwin is a no-brainer WR1 against the Lions’ slot coverage, which Anthony Miller (9/140/0), Randall Cobb (4/115/1), Larry Fitzgerald (8/113/1), Keenan Allen (8/98/0), Golden Tate (8/85/0), Hunter Renfrow (6/54/1), Nelson Agholor (8/50/2), and Bisi Johnson (4/40/1) have all torn up. Detroit has given up 11 TDs in the slot this year. Godwin’s target ceiling is among the highest on Week 15’s slate. … Breshad Perriman projects as Tampa’s No. 2 wideout in Evans’ absence and an upside WR3 play against a Lions secondary yielding the NFL’s fifth-most yards to receivers. Perriman efficiently parlayed 12 targets into a 9/201/1 stat line over the last three weeks. As Evans exited last Sunday’s win early, Perriman ran a season-high 50 routes and played 83% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps. … Justin Watson (5/59/1) was another big beneficiary of Evans’ Week 14 injury, drawing eight targets against the Colts. Watson is firmly on this week’s WR4 radar but isn’t quite safe with Scotty Miller (hamstring) back from his two-week injury. … With consecutive stat lines of 5/61/0 and 4/73/0 against Jacksonville and Indy, O.J. Howard has re-earned TE1 treatment at Detroit. He’s again playing over 80% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps and last week ran 37 pass routes to Cameron Brate’s 14.
David Blough lit up the Bears in the first half of Detroit’s Thanksgiving loss, and it’s been downhill from there. Over his last six quarters, Blough is 39-of-63 passing for 306 yards (4.9 YPA) with a 1:3 TD-to-INT ratio and six sacks taken. Blough remains two-QB-league viable due to this week’s matchup. 10 of the last 11 quarterbacks to face the Bucs banked top-15 fantasy scores, while only three defenses have allowed more touchdown passes (29). As Arians’ team is likely to pour points on Detroit’s tissue-soft defense while rendering the Lions’ run game nonexistent, Blough quietly offers one of the highest sheer pass-attempt ceilings on Week 15’s slate. By that same token, weekly streamers should give Tampa Bay’s D/ST a hard look. … Still a missing person in Detroit’s passing game now facing a Bucs defense that’s held enemy backs to 3.18 yards per carry and just six all-purpose TDs in 13 games, Bo Scarbrough is a hard fade with only rushing points to work with and almost no touchdown equity with zero carries inside the five all year. Sparingly used scatbacks J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson offer even less appeal.
Blough’s 2019 target distribution: Danny Amendola 16; Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones 13; McKissic 7; Johnson and Logan Thomas 4; Scarbrough 3; Jesse James 2. … Held below 50 yards in six straight games and scoreless since Week 1, Amendola nevertheless warrants PPR-specific WR4 treatment after the Lions shut down Jones (ankle) for the season. … Ideally, however, Blough will pay Amendola less mind and challenge DC Todd Bowles’ secondary outside the numbers, where Christian Kirk (6/138/3), D.K. Metcalf (6/123/1), Michael Thomas (8/114/1), Marcus Johnson (3/105/1), Calvin Ridley (6/85/1), Andy Isabella (3/78/0), and Zach Pascal (5/74/1) all beat fantasy expectations against the Bucs within their last six games. Golladay is a locked-in WR1 play with monster target potential sans Jones. I like the idea of game stacking Bucs-Lions with Winston-to-Godwin pairings and “bringing it back” with Golladay. … Thomas and James shared tight end time almost right down the middle in Detroit’s first post-T.J. Hockenson game, with Thomas narrowly topping James in routes run (23 to 18) and out-targeting him 4 to 2. Thomas is a touchdown-or-bust streamer idea. … Chris Lacy appears in line to take over in three-receiver sets, but the Lions could easily emphasize two-tight end packages more with Jones on the shelf.
Score Prediction: Bucs 28, Lions 20