Buccaneers at Cardinals NFL DFS Picks: Can Tom Brady Deliver a Holiday Miracle on SNF?

Week 16 Sunday Night Football brings a matchup between a Tampa Bay team looking to squeak into the postseason, potentially with a losing record unless they run the table and a Cardinals squad down to their third-string quarterback with their front office and head coach in the hot seat after crafting another dismal season.

Rolling into NFL Week 16 Sunday Night Football, Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all of the different slates, game formats and sites.

This column will provide a free analysis of the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There is loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 16 Sunday Night Football slate featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Arizona Cardinals.

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NFL DFS Picks: Week 16 SNF | Buccaneers-Cardinals

Tampa Bay is missing a few key defenders for this matchup with linebackers Genard Avery (midsection) and Carl Nassib (pectoral) ruled out along with cornerback Jamel Dean (toe), safety Mike Edwards (hamstring) and nose tackle Vita Vea (calf). On the offensive side of the ball, lineman Donovan Smith (foot) is out, while wide receiver Julio Jones (knee) and offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Josh Wells are game time decisions.

Arizona has lost quarterback Kyler Murray to an ACL injury and backup Colt McCoy is in the concussion protocol. Wideout Marquise Brown (groin) is going to test things out in warmups. Defensive end Zach Allen (hand) is out along with defensive back Byron Murphy (back). Cornerback Antonio Hamilton (back) is a game time decision and Charles Washington (chest) is expected to play.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 24.0 Points


The Stokastic Projections have future Hall of Famer Tom Brady just inside the top 10 quarterbacks for the full Week 16 player pool. Some of this of course is due to adverse weather across the country, though this is also a favorable matchup for Tampa Bay. Arizona has the 20th worst rushing DVOA and their rushing defense ranks an abysmal 29th per Football Outsiders.

Even though Brady has been struggling this season after helping usher out former head coach Bruce Arians, the rest of the NFC South has been an unmitigated disaster. With three games to go, the Buccaneers have a two game lead on the rest of the division and a 64% chance of making the postseason.

Passing volume has been the name of the game once again and Brady has averaged 46.8 attempts over his last dozen appearances. Touchdowns have been lacking with only 18 in this timeframe along with six interceptions, but that variance could easily swing towards a three-touchdown performance for the greatest quarterback in the history of the league.

Running Back

This has been an up and down season for veteran Leonard Fournette with rookie Rachaad White having worked his way into the mix for approximately half of the backfield touches. White does have the edge when it comes to mop up duty, since there is little reason to add any wear and tear to Fournette. That makes White very interesting on FanDuel, even with the paltry $500 discount. DraftKings is a different story where the difference between Fournette ($7,800) and White ($6,400) is enough to have the latter as a far better point per dollar play.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn is the only other running back to see the field since the Week 11 bye. All of his snaps came in Week 12 when Fournette was out with an injury.

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Wide Receiver

Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have once again been the stalwart members of the receiving corps. Godwin tends to have the better floor and more volume, particularly in full-PPR scoring formats. Evans of course has nearly unrivaled tournament upside with his knack for multi-touchdown games with 18 such career performances, though he can turn in single-digit outings in-between his monster games. Salt to taste when choosing between this duo. They can also be played together for those looking to capture the majority of the aerial production.

Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago when we were watching Julio Jones look nimble and spry during his Week 1 debut for Tampa Bay? Jones may be out with a knee issue and he has been dinged up with a variety of maladies for most of the year. Even if he “could play if this was the playoffs” there is no need for him to be hurried back for this matchup. Let others take on the risk of limited snaps tonight.

Russell Gage is the direct beneficiary whenever one of the big three receivers are out and he is coming off a two touchdown performance against Cincinatti. That makes three touchdowns in the last two weeks for Gage and while he will have volatile production, he has been assigned a reasonable salary on both DraftKings ($6,000) and FanDuel ($9,500).

If Jones is out, some combination of Scotty Miller, Breshard Perriman and Deven Thompkins will serve as the fourth and fifth wideout. Each is at the minimum salary on DraftKings and at or barely above it on FanDuel. Though it is crucial to note that over the last four games, Miller has three targets, while Perriman and Thompkins each have one.

Tight End

Cameron Brate has 4, 4 and 5 targets in his last three healthy games. When he was out in Week 13, Cade Otton had a season high 10 targets. In the last two games, Otton had five looks in Week 14 and one last Sunday. Both are in play, though it is hard to have a good analytical lean towards one or the other, so let personal preference and salary availability be your guide.

Defense/Special Teams

Tampa Bay has only 13 takeaways which is the third least in the league, though the Buccaneers are sixth with 40 sacks. In a bit of irony, Arizona has allowed the sixth most sacks with 40, though that number should rise with a green quarterback under center on Sunday Night Football.

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Arizona Cardinals: 16.5 Points


Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy have given way to Trace McSorley who is known by DFS gamers for his work during the preseason. That is not going to prepare him for the withering pressure of the Buccaneers defense and he is likely to be under siege all night. DraftKings ($8,800) at least made it interesting, while FanDuel ($13,000) fell asleep at the switch, assigning the former Nittany Lion the fifth highest salary. Technically McSorley is the sixth most expensive option on DraftKings, but with their lower salary floor, this is not a daunting task of making him a mainstay in the flex slot.

We do not need McSorley to lead the Cardinals to a victory, we just need him to flirt with double-digit fantasy points and maybe get lucky with a touchdown run.

Running Back

James Conner may actually spontaneously combust or even disintegrate before our eyes on Sunday. In reverse chronological order, he has been on the field for 91%, 95%, 97%, 77% and 96% of the offensive snaps over the last five weeks. Rookie Keaontay Ingram has averaged nearly double-digit snaps over the same period and journeyman Corey Clement has four.

It would seem that coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to ride Conner into the ground in the hopes of keeping the game close, or eking out a victory. This is all about career preservation and since Conner is 28-years old and has a nominal cap hit if he is cut for the final season of his contract, he is a fungible asset. We should expect around 100 combined yards – as long as he can remain upright.

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Wide Receiver

DeAndre Hopkins is a player to target as even with a third-string quarterback who has a career stat line of 18 for 39 (46.2%) and 256 yards, Hopkins should see a large share of the targets. Now is quarterback having time to make even semi-accurate throws, well that is a different challenge.

Marquise Brown is a game-time decision, but likely to suit up. Of course he will have his work cut out for him with Hopkins likely seeing the lion’s share of targets and most of the quality ones. Of course we could see a Hollywood-style throwback game, though they have yet to materialize in the desert this season.

Greg Dortch, Robbie Anderson and A.J. Green will all be on the field, though who knows which one will even be worth trusting – making this group a touchdown hunting exercise, likely will end up with bupkis to show for the effort.

Tight End

Zach Ertz left a major void, though Trey McBride has done his best to paper over things. In the last four games, the rookie has 18 targets for 12 catches and 98 yards. Far from eye-popping numbers, but inexperience quarterbacks tend to look to the tight ends out of desperation. Speaking of desperation, that is exactly the category where we should leave Stephen Anderson and Maxx Williams, unless of course you are a wayward soul who is crafting 100 or more lineups.

Defense/Special Teams

The Cardinals roughed up the Broncos for seven sacks in a losing effort, but it is going to be a long row to hoe, before they even get to Brady. The 45-year-old still gets rid of the ball quickly and he has been sacked just twice in the last three games. He does have an uncharacteristic five interceptions in those same games, though he was trying to rally the team from behind. On the season, he still has a paltry 1.1% interception rate.

Sunday Night Football Buccaneers-Cardinals DFS Single-Game Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups, and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However, those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with his quarterback.

Week 16 Sunday Night Football Buccaneers-Cardinals DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks For Buccaneers-Cardinals

  1. Chris Godwin: Gets the edge on full-PPR sites like DraftKings.
  2. Mike Evans: Roll with him on FanDuel and other sites with half-PPR.
  3. DeAndre Hopkins: Should be peppered with targets, but will they be catchable.
  4. Tom Brady: This top quartet is really interchangeable when it comes to the multiplier slots, though if one of the receivers has two touchdowns, they likely will outscore Tom Terrific.
  5. Rachaad White: Second half mop up duty looms large.
  6. James Conner: Will get the work load, until he falls apart.
  7. Trace McSorley: One of two starting quarterbacks in the player pool.
  8. Ryan Succop: Does his best work inside of 45 yards, converted just three of his last 10 from beyond 50 yards.
  9. Russell Gage: Steady but not spectacular, ignore last week as an outlier.
  10. A.J. Green: Look to the steady veteran to run a few curls from the slot or in the flat to help steady McSorley, just $200 on DraftKings. Barely in consideration at all on FanDuel unless building 25 or more lineups.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks For Buccaneers-Cardinals

  1. Marquise Brown: Not healthy and has a green quarterback.
  2. Tampa Bay D/ST: Will be wildly popular, to the tune of 10-12% in the multiplier and around 40% of all entries on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
  3. Mike Prater: Multiple field goal attempts in six of his eight games.
  4. Cade Otton and Cameron Brate: Coinflip.
  5. Tre McBride: Salary could keep popularity in check on DraftKings ($5,400) and FanDuel ($6,400) with a baseline expectation of only a handful of targets.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks For Buccaneers-Cardinals

  1. Arizona D/ST: Will be on the field a ton, fantasy production is a different story.
  2. Julio Jones: I just don’t buy it.
  3. Keaontay Ingram: Just five fantasy points combined in his last six games, at some point the rookie should get touches.
  4. Scotty Miller, Stephen Anderson and Maxx Williams: Each should see the field and is at the DraftKings $200 minimum. Yes, we are already scraping the bottom of the barrel.
  5. Robbie Anderson: Could teleport into the endzone from far out, but it has been a while since we have seen that in reality.
  6. Corey Clement: Lining up to be the Grinch in the red zone and stealing the only ‘Zona TD.
  7. Pharoh Cooper and Greg Dortch: Cooper has been the return man, but Dortch had that role in the last game. The latter also sees offensive snaps.
  8. Kyle Rudolph: Come on, ’tis the season!
  9. Ko Kieft and Breshad Perriman: Last guys worthy of their own line, that and $5 will get you a fancy holiday latte.
  10. Jonathan Ward, Giovani Bernard, Deven Thompkins, Blaine Gabbert and Santa Claus: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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Eric MacPherson
Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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