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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos | Week 3




Week 12 NFL DFS Top Stacks DraftKings FanDuel daily fantasy football free expert advice tips strategy Tampa Bay BUccaneers

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers nabbed their first win of the season in Week 2. Now they head to the mile high city to take on an ailing Broncos squad in danger of falling to 0-3. Can backup quarterback Jeff Driskel save Denver’s season? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 13 games on tap for Week 3 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into Buccaneers – Broncos for your NFL DFS lineups.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24.75) at Denver Broncos (18.75) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Buccaneers Passing Game

Brady and the Buccaneers got back on track with a Week 2 trouncing of their division rival Panthers, and they didn’t need Brady to do much at all thanks to multiple defensive takeaways and multiple touchdowns on the ground. Nonetheless, his finish as the 29th-best quarterback in fantasy in a blowout win is a reminder of the downside of Brady’s game manager style, even while managing the traditionally aggressive Bruce Arians offense.

One area where the Arians influence remains is in the number of deep shots the Bucs continue to take. Brady’s fourth in deep ball attempts this season, connecting on 50% of them (10th best). With Chris Godwin returning to the fold after not clearing the concussion protocol in time for Week 2, the big shots should continue against a Broncos secondary graded almost exactly even with the Tampa Bay receivers (by PFF’s net pass grade advantage). Brady’s 70% clean pocket completion percentage and 24th-ranked 68% true completion percentage leads one to believe that there’s still room for improvement in Brady’s game. His adjusted yards per attempt is bottom five in the league heading into Sunday. While a hyper-efficient three-touchdown day is never out of the question for Brady, especially with this receiving corps, it seems less likely against Denver, who still possesses a top-tier defense, grading out (by PFF) in the top 15 of all but one defensive category (pass rush) and in the top seven in coverage grades.

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The aforementioned Godwin returns in Week 3 after a mildly efficient 79 yards on seven targets in Week 1 (his 2.03 yards per route run rank 41st), but he only saw one deep target and one red zone reception. If one week is any indicator, it does appear Godwin will be lethal after the catch once again, averaging 4.1 yards after the catch per target. When matched in the slot with Essang Bassey, he should have a distinct advantage, as PFF grades this one-on-one matchup as the seventh-most receiver advantageous matchup of the weekend.

Mike Evans, who caught Brady’s lone touchdown in Week 2, also grades out (again via PFF) with a top-15 matchup when lined up against Michael Ojemudia, who is bottom 30 among eligible cornerbacks in targets per route. He’s being consistently tested early this season. Look for Brady and Arians to shift receivers (particularly Godwin) in and out of the slot in order to create consistent mismatches.

O.J. Howard (14% true weighted opportunity share), Scott Miller (13%) and surprisingly LeSean McCoy (9%) round out the auxiliary weaponry for Brady and co. Sixth option Justin Watson (9%) is trending towards missing this week, which could open things up for the previously mentioned three. Rob Gronkowski is a disappointing seventh in true weighted opportunity share on his own team, ranking 44th in usage among tight ends.

Buccaneers Running Game

Leonard Fournette came alive with one big run last week, stampeding his way to the end zone twice, including one impressive breakaway run. His 17-opportunity, 116-yard day that included five red zone touches were likely made possible by Ronald Jones being put in the proverbial doghouse for fumbling a routine handoff in the second quarter. Fournette did not throw away his shot and made the most of the bell cow role. It wouldn’t be surprising if after this week we’re talking about Fournette as the undisputed leader of the Buccaneers backfield. Nonetheless, especially after a big game in Week 2, we should expect increased ownership in DFS this week, which should give us pause about utilizing him heavily. Though it’s not far off, Fournette’s Week 3 projection rank is lower than his salary on DraftKings among running backs.

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Broncos Passing Game

By some efficiency metrics (like the ones I highlight in my weekly data deep dive), Drew Lock was playing the most inefficient football of any quarterback in the NFL before leaving with a shoulder injury. Though he won’t be placed on IR, it’s clear that the Broncos are preparing to be without Lock for several weeks, as they signed Blake Bortles off the street.

Jeff Driskel, who performed admirably in relief of Lock in Week 2, was boosted by a 97% pass protection rate, tied for first in the NFL. Intriguingly, he was extremely aggressive on a per-attempt basis, averaging nearly 12 air yards per throw (totaling out at a hefty 403 air yards), by far the highest number in Week 2. It wasn’t terribly efficient (No. 23 in adjusted yards per attempt, No. 20 in deep ball completion percentage), but his passer rating of 110 put him in the top 10 of quarterbacks on the week. It all translated to a 17-point fantasy day, 18th best at the position. That makes three straight top-20 starts for Driskel in backup duties dating back to the start of 2019. With more rushing upside than we witnessed in Week 2 (he averaged 50 rush yards in three starts last season), fantasy gamers could do much worse than Driskel as a punt quarterback in lineups.

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As I stated on the Awesemo weekly matchups show on Thursday, the loss of Courtland Sutton is similar to the Falcons losing Julio Jones (albeit in a much lower-volume offense). There just aren’t a lot of players like the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Sutton who possesses world-class athleticism (97th percentile agility score). He was really coming into his own as a player towards the end of the 2019 season. The result of the injury likely means that the weekly ceiling of this entire offense is reduced.

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That is, unless one of the Broncos receivers can elevate their game beyond what we’ve seen in these first two weeks. Jerry Jeudy has massive shoes to fill, and moreover, the Broncos did not even intend to utilize Jeudy as full-time player. He’s only run routes on 72% of Denver’s pass plays, but now he’ll be needed in an offense that has little to offer in the play-maker category. Jeudy does rank 12th among receivers in slot snaps and 15 in total air yards. He’ll need to convert those air yards to receiving yards at a much higher rate in order to be fantasy viable.

The other Denver rookie, K.J. Hamler, may actually have the most to gain with Sutton down. His seven-target game against Pittsburgh is encouraging, and his low catch rate and yardage totals can be at least somewhat explained by his difficult matchup against Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson. Still, at 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, he’s unlikely to be utilized a primary weapon, but his 17% true weighted opportunity share (50th at the position) should almost certainly rise beginning this week. Tim Patrick (15%), Noah Fant (14%) and DaeSean Hamilton  (10%) will be players to watch as well, particularly the athletic second-year tight end Fant, who has turned mid-tier usage (14th among tight ends) in to back-to-back top-10 finishes at the position. Now priced as the eighth-highest tight end on the main slate, Awesemo’s projections remain slightly bearish on Fant, at least for this week.

Broncos Running Game

Phillip Lindsay isn’t going to be playing once again, leaving the Denver backfield to Melvin Gordon. Gordon currently ranks 10th in weighted opportunities and 14th in red zone touches, and he’s converted those touches into two touchdowns already. Moreover, he’s in the top 20 of both crucial rushing metrics, ranking first in breakaway runs and 20th among all backs with seven total evaded tackles. Gordon will be more of risky play this week, as Tampa Bay’s stout defense presents Denver with the fourth-worst PFF net rushing advantage on the weekend. That shouldn’t scare you off entirely, even at higher ownership, as the expected usage at his $5,800 salary on DraftKings is tough to pass up. Gordon will be spelled by Royce Freeman (two carries per game, one total target) occasionally, but until Lindsay returns, this backfield is essentially Gordon’s.


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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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