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Fantasy Football Picks: Buccaneers vs. Eagles DraftKings NFL DFS TNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. ET contest between the Buccaneers and the Eagles with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

Is it weird that whenever I see the Philadelphia Eagles playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I still think of the 2003 NFC Championship Game? Maybe we’re all just stuck remembering sports from when we were 11-years-old for the rest of entirety — sports are sooooo good when you’re a kid — but come on. Donovan McNabb? Duce Staley? Joe Jurevicius? Ronde Barber? Those are the glory days, my friends.

Anyway, jumping back to 2021, let’s break down Thursday’s matchup from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (TB vs PHI)




SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Jalen Hurts ($17,700 CP) - I’m not sure if we’ll ever see the day where an NFL team passes on 100% of its downs, but if that magical feat is going to happen in 2021, it’s going to be on Thursday. The Eagles come into Week 6 already among the league-leaders in pass ratio. Heck, over its past three games, Philadelphia has thrown the ball on a whopping 71.2% of its plays — the highest mark in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has clearly established itself as a team that invites opposing offenses to test it through the air, whether that be due to a stout front-seven, game script or a seemingly never-ending list of injuries in its secondary. To wit, the Buccaneers are currently missing Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antonie Winfield Jr. and Carlton Davis, and as such, opponents have registered a league-high 74.9% pass rate. That’s a lot of opportunity for Hurts, who currently ranks second among QBs in rushing yards (256) and rushing touchdowns (3). There’s a reason he’s averaging over 0.6 DKFP per drop back, and adding more volume to that level of efficiency is a deadly combination.

Leonard Fournette ($11,700 CP) - Though it had been initially sold as a backfield where the “hot hand” would receive the most carries, Fournette has clearly found himself as Tampa’s RB1 the past two weeks. The former first-round pick logged an 82.1% snap share in the Buccaneers’ narrow 19-17 victory over the Patriots and then Fournette followed that up with a 62.2% snap share in last weekend’s blowout win over the Dolphins — a contest where he didn’t need to touch the field in the fourth quarter. Fournette has also been a steady force in Tampa’s passing attack throughout 2021, having yet to end a game with fewer than three receptions. Add all that together with the fact that the Buccaneers lead the NFL in red zone trips per contest (4.8), and you’ve got one of the best fantasy situations in the whole league. Given that the Eagles have surrendered an NFL-high 156.3 opponent rushing yards per game the past three weeks, Fournette should dominate this matchup.



Value FLEX Plays

Zach Ertz ($3,200) - For the purposes of Showdown, I almost wish that Dallas Goedert (health protocols) was actually playing in tonight’s game, because with him sidelined, Ertz becomes a blatantly obvious value option. However, the veteran was already viable even while sharing the field with Goedert. In fact, across the past three weeks, Ertz’s 21 targets rank as the seventh-most among TEs, just a single target behind the likes of Darren Waller and Kyle Pitts. That’s pretty good company for someone we all figured was washed as recently as three months ago. It’s hard to imagine that Ertz won’t see additional snaps and targets with Goedert unavailable this evening; though I might suggest pivoting to the similarly priced Jalen Reagor ($5,000) if you want to avoid the Ertz chalk. Reagor has a higher ceiling than his teammate and the Buccaneers depleted secondary is conceding the third-most DKFP to opposing WRs.

O.J. Howard ($1,400) - Let’s go tight end crazy, shall we? Even with Rob Gronkowski (ribs) missing the past two weeks, Howard is still not running as many routes as Cam Brate ($4,800). However, with Howard logging a 62.5% snap share within that same span, I don’t really think opportunity is all that big an issue given the former first-round pick’s incredibly modest salary. Howard just needs one big play to have a massive impact on this slate, and I believe the Eagles are an ideal matchup for the 26-year-old to make a mark. That’s because, so far this season, a whopping 28% of opponent targets against Philadelphia have been directed at the TE position — the highest rate in the NFC. Look for Howard (and even Brate) to take advantage.


Fades

Miles Sanders ($6,600) - Sanders is coming off an encouraging performance against the Panthers — he played 74.6% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps and garnered 16 touches — but the back’s role has simply been too volatile for me to trust that volume in a matchup where efficiency won’t be likely. The Buccaneers allow the third-fewest adjusted line yards per opponent rushing attempt (3.19), Kenneth Gainwell ($2,400) has been stealing targets from Sanders all season and, most concerning of all, the Penn State product is far from his team’s No. 1 option in red zone situations. In fact, when the Eagles have run the ball inside their opponent’s 10-yard line in 2021, Sanders has seen just a 16.7% share of those carries. On the other hand, the aforementioned Hurts is responsible for 66.7% of those attempts.


THE OUTCOME

This is a pretty big spread considering the litany of injuries the Buccaneers are currently dealing with on defense. It also doesn’t ease my mind that Tampa Bay is just 2-3 ATS in 2021, and has yet to cover on the road. Still, at the end of the day, I’m far more comfortable backing the total in this contest than picking a side. The Buccaneers are surrendering over 6.0 yards per play the past three weeks, primarily because they invite opponents to pass the football as much as they do. Passing will always have a higher yardage expectancy than rushing, so in a way, Tampa’s run-game dominance is almost hurting itself. Points will be scored on Thursday.

Final Score: Tampa Bay 34, Philadelphia 28

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Thursday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (TB vs PHI)


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