Last updated: September 25th at 5:56pm ET.
Team Totals: Rams 30, Bucs 20
Even after last week’s 380-yard, three-score spike against the lowly Giants defense, the best Week 4 approach to Jameis Winston may be to use the Rams’ D/ST against him. DC Wade Phillips’ unit held its first three opponents to putrid QB33 (Cam Newton), QB29 (Saints), and QB28 (Baker Mayfield) fantasy finishes, while Tampa Bay’s offensive line has surrendered the NFL’s tenth-most sacks (10) and fourth-most QB hits (25). The Bucs’ offense matches up poorly enough with the run-funnel Rams that another multi-turnover Jameis meltdown could be on the horizon. … Although Ronald Jones grabbed the hot hand in last week’s backfield with a career-high 121 yards on 15 touches, he was again out-snapped 35% to 31% by Peyton Barber, who logged the same number of touches with Dare Ogunbowale (24%, 3 touches) still sprinkling in. The good news is Los Angeles’ run defense is vulnerable, having permitted a combined 61/277/3 (4.54 YPC) rushing line to enemy running backs. The bad news is Jones has almost zero passing-game involvement with just two targets and 15 routes run on the season, while coach Bruce Arians appears intent on maintaining a three-way RBBC. In a game where Tampa risks playing from behind as a ten-point dog, Jones and Barber are high-risk, low-ceiling flex options. Fantasy owners of Jones should explore packaging him with another player to acquire a bankable every-week play.
Winston’s target distribution: Mike Evans 28; Chris Godwin 19; Breshad Perriman 11; O.J. Howard and Ogunbowale 9; Barber and Cameron Brate 7; Jones 2. … As foreshadowed in last week’s Matchups and Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Evans busted his two-game slump by reaving Janoris Jenkins’ soul for three first-half touchdowns and the second-most yards (190) in Evans’ 80-game career. While Evans never loses his season-long WR1 luster, a return to Earth seems likely versus a Rams secondary that has kept fellow perimeter WRs Michael Thomas (10/89/0), D.J. Moore (7/76/0), Odell Beckham (6/56/0), Curtis Samuel (3/32/0), and Ted Ginn (0/0) in relative check. … Evans’ hostile Week 3 takeover adversely impacted Godwin, even as he set season highs in routes run (43) and snaps (97%) and can’t be downgraded from an every-week WR2. Godwin does catch a tough Week 4 draw against feisty Rams slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, who helped quiet Jarvis Landry (3/62/0) last Sunday night and allowed 56 scoreless yards on 12 targets (4.7 YPA) in Weeks 1-3. … Howard also ran his most routes of the season (29) in last week’s loss to the G-Men, delivering a year-high 66 yards. Unfortunately, the Rams present a near worst-case-scenario matchup. Teams targeting tight ends against Phillips’ defense have completed just 8-of-21 attempts (38%) for 77 yards (3.7 YPA) and last Sunday night’s Demetrius Harris goal-line TD.
Jared Goff’s stark 2018 home-road splits have spilled into 2019 with Week 1’s QB29 result at Carolina, Week 2’s QB9 bounce back in L.A. against the Saints, and last Sunday night’s QB19 clunker in Cleveland. Although Bucs DC Todd Bowles’ personnel-deficient defense cutely overachieved against up-and-down Jimmy Garoppolo and foot-hobbled Cam Newton in the first two weeks, Daniel Jones badly exposed it for Week 3’s overall QB2 performance in his first NFL start. Tampa Bay appears likely to miss do-it-all top-five-pick Devin White (MCL) for another game, further weakening a defense showing pass-funnel characteristics. Goff is a confident QB1 play with DFS appeal in stacks with Cooper Kupp. Per Sports Info Solutions, Goff has a 17:2 TD-to-INT ratio versus man coverage compared to a 14:12 TD-to-INT ratio versus zone since the beginning of 2018. Bowles is running man coverage at the NFL’s fourth-highest rate. … The Bucs have shown pass-funnel potential by holding enemy backs to 59/130/0 (2.20 YPC) rushing despite facing the high-production 49ers backfield, Christian McCaffrey, and eight Saquon Barkley carries in Weeks 1-3. And Todd Gurley’s lack of to-date passing-game usage suggests he’ll struggle to circumvent the Bucs’ defensive strength with a measly eight receiving yards on six targets three games in. Gurley did play a season-high 73% of the Rams’ Week 3 offensive snaps but has now fallen short of 20 touches in six straight games including January’s playoffs. Still a home-favorite lead back in an offense that should flirt with 30 points, Gurley projects as a relatively high-floor, questionable-ceiling RB2 against Tampa Bay.
Goff’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: Cooper Kupp 31; Robert Woods 23; Brandin Cooks 22; Tyler Higbee 8; Gerald Everett 7; Gurley 6; Malcolm Brown 2. … As Sterling Shepard (7/100/1) can attest, attacking Tampa Bay’s slot coverage is a good-process approach. Offenses targeting the slot against the Bucs are 19-of-28 passing (68%) for 204 yards and two TDs. Kupp runs 78% of his routes inside, while Woods is a 43% interior receiver and popped as Week 4’s No. 3 buy-low wideout in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. Kupp is approaching fringe WR1 value, and fantasy leaguers should stay the course with Woods as a bankable WR3. Shepard, Curtis Samuel (5/91/0), D.J. Moore (9/89/0), and Giants rookie Darius Slayton (3/82/0) in his NFL debut all produced at or above expectation against the Bucs in the last two weeks. Kupp, in particular, excels against man coverage run heavily by Bucs DC Bowles. … Cooks leads the Rams in Air Yards (304) and has turned in consecutive WR2 weeks (3/74/1, 8/112/0) even if it feels like he’s had a slow start. Tampa Bay has allowed the NFL’s eighth-most yards per completion (11.9), suggesting Cooks can stay hot as Los Angeles’ top long-ball threat. … As Higbee (bruised lung) seems likely to miss another game, Everett remains in streamer position against a Bucs defense that was eviscerated by Greg Olsen (6/110/0) and Evan Engram (6/113/1) in its last two games. Everett ranked No. 12 among NFL tight ends in routes run (26) with Higbee inactive last week.
Score Prediction: Rams 27, Bucs 13