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DFS Showdown Tips: Saints-Buccaneers

By Matt Schauf 5:40pm EST 12/19/21

Tom Brady finished this year’s 1st Saints meeting with big fantasy numbers. But that doesn’t mean he played well.

Brady helped his Buccaneers fall behind 23-7 early in the 3rd quarter by throwing an INT and losing a fumble. He then brought Tampa Bay back into the lead before tossing a game-clinching pick-6 to CB P.J. Williams.

The specifics are worth noting, because it’s certainly not the 1st time Brady has had trouble with the Saints since moving south. His 61.6 passing grade from Pro Football Focus for that game is his 2nd worst of the year, trailing only last week’s grade vs. the Bills.

Last season found Brady and the Bucs facing the Saints 3 times. Those games produced his 2nd, 5th and 6th lowest passing grades among 20 total appearances.

Last year’s Saints finished the year ranked 3rd in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA and 2nd in overall defensive DVOA.

This year’s group hasn’t been quite so tough, sitting 11th against the pass and 5th overall heading into Sunday night’s game. But the Saints did just recently return slot CB C.J. Gardner-Johnson and DE Marcus Davenport from injuries.

Brady entered the weekend 2nd in our QB rankings, so we’re obviously not overly concerned about him. But his brief history against the Saints with the Bucs is worth keeping in mind as we try to set differentiating showdown lineups.

Now for the value charts …


TE Adam Trautman’s return from IR is important to note. It’s tough to know just how much he’ll play and how large his receiving role will be. But his bare-minimum salary makes it kind of a moot point. Anything he gives us from there is gravy. And the upside is tantalizing. The 2nd-year player garnered 8, 6, 7 and 6 targets the past 4 times he played. He caught just 2 passes in the 1st meeting with Tampa, but his 6 targets ranked 2nd on the team in that game.

The fact that Trautman is fresh off a 3-week absence for a knee sprain, though, keems Nick Vannett relevant for our plans. New Orleans’ lack of WR productivity makes it possible to even put both TEs into the same lineup.

If Tom Brady struggled in the 1st meeting with the Saints, Leonard Fournette outright bombed. He gained only 26 yards on 8 carries and added just 17 more on 3 catches (among 5 targets). Your best hope is a game similar to what Playoff Lenny produced at New Orleans in January: 17-63 rushing (3.7 per carry) and 5-44-1 receiving. He has, at least, seen 5+ targets now in 3 straight meetings. Still, Fournette looks like a guy to lean away from in terms of showdown exposure tonight.


Rob Gronkowski wasn’t really healthy for this year’s 1st meeting with New Orleans. He made a 6-snap cameo in a failed attempt at an early return from injury. His 3 meetings with the Saints last year, however, went terribly. Gronk caught just 4 of 14 total targets for 27 yards and 0 TDs. New Orleans remains unfriendly to TEs. The defense ranks 8th in TE-coverage DVOA and 10th-toughest on TE scoring by our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

Mike Evans is the other star worth addressing here. His 4 meetings with the Saints – and lead CB Marshon Lattimore – since Tom Brady arrived have produced these receiving lines:


His career averages over 14 meetings with New Orleans:

6.1 targets
3.4 receptions
51.1 yards
0.4 TDs

So it’s not the friendliest setting for his fantasy outlook – especially with Tampa Bay sporting enough alternate receiving options to keep Brady from having to force the ball to Evans.

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