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Buccaneers Fantasy Corner: Week 14

Posted Dec 7, 2013

As the Buffalo Bills travel into Tampa Bay, we take a look at which players in this matchup will ensure your trip into the second round of the fantasy playoffs

Welcome to the 2013 Fantasy Football Playoffs (hopefully)!  In most leagues, Week 14 of the NFL regular season marks the first weekend of the tournament to see who will reign supreme and take home the much-coveted fantasy football trophy, not to mention months of bragging rights while we impatiently await for the 2014 preseason to roll around.

Despite a rash of injuries, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stepped up this season, providing some consistent performances and big surprises to help push many fantasy teams into the playoffs. From Vincent Jackson’s point-scoring sprees to the steady tallies of Mike Glennon to the numerous midseason surprises from Mike James, Bobby Rainey, Tim Wright and Tiquan Underwood, the Bucs have been an unpredictable but effective source of points for most.

Now, as we move into the tournament bracket of the playoffs, it is even more important to separate the big-game performers from the boom-or-bust players to guarantee you move on to the next round. Sunday’s matchup between the Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills should provide a steady dose of the former. Without further ado, let’s look at how this matchup will affect your lineup.

1. Wide Receiver: Decisions, Decisions

- RB B. Rainey is a solid fantasy play this week against Buffalo's defense
Jackson is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, having been a limited participant in both the Thursday and Friday practices at One Buc Place. While that is a bit of a concern, if he does play, he should remain in starting lineups based on a fantastic matchup for the Bucs WRs.

The Bills have allowed the fourth-most yardage, second-most touchdowns and second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. In seven of their 12 games this season they have given up 40 points to the position. Last week, Atlanta WR Roddy White hauled in 10 receptions against the Bills secondary, good for 143 yards and 24 fantasy points.

Should Vincent Jackson play, he has a good chance to put up numbers similar to those of his fellow NFC South star. Vincent Jackson is on pace for 81 receptions this season, which would be the most of his career. With that many passes coming his way against a defense allowing big chunks of yardage, this could be yet another big game for Jackson.

Whether Jackson suits up for the game or not, a solid sleeper here is Tiquan Underwood. Over the last two road games he has six receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and those numbers came against the much stingier defenses of Detroit and Carolina. In the fantasy playoffs, it is a wise practice to go with the player who is more of a guarantee to put up points, but if you are looking to fill in for an injured player or need a “Hail Mary” of sorts to move on, Underwood could have another big game this week.

When it comes to opposing receivers facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, things can get turned upside down. Take Roddy White as an example one more time – in his game against the Bucs a few weeks ago he managed just three receptions for 36 yards and a late-game touchdown.  White is the Falcons’ #1; in that game, and throughout most games this season, it has been the second or third WR option on a team that is having fantasy football success against the Buccaneers. Last week both Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. found the end zone. Nate Burleson had the most fantasy WR fantasy points on his team when the Lions played the Bucs. The same can be said for Atlanta’s Harry Douglas, Miami’s Rishard Matthews, Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and Philadelphia’s Riley Cooper.

This raises a few questions for the Buffalo receivers. Their number-one receiver, Steve Johnson, will see a lot of Darrelle Revis, which makes him a tough play here. Moving down the list of Bills’ wide receivers you then find Robert Woods (28 receptions, 388 yards, 2 TDs), T.J. Graham (18 receptions, 272 yards, 1 TD) and Marquise Goodwin (16 receptions, 261 yards, 3 TDs). With a very even split between all three of these receivers, it is a bit of a gamble to plug one in. Woods leads in fantasy points, but has just five over the last three games and no double-digit point games since Week Five. Marquise Goodwin came on strong in recent weeks with a 14-point performance against Kansas City and a 21-pointer against the Jets; however, he was shut out last week. Graham had 15 points against the Jets, but was also held point-less vs. the Falcons. It is highly likely that one of these players will have a chance to shine this week, Goodwin appears the most likely candidate, but it is only a gamble worth making if you absolutely must.

2. More Choices at Running Back

Every fantasy football draft season, you hear a lot about the importance of (or arguments against) handcuffing your running backs. This ensures that if your top running back goes down, you already have his teammate and replacement on your fantasy bench so you can just plug him in and go. The Buffalo Bills’ duo was something of a handcuff situation at the beginning of the year.

If you picked up RB C.J. Spiller in the first round this year, and then opted to take his fellow RB Fred Jackson, you experienced the positive side of the handcuffing process. Spiller battled injury issues at times, making Fred Jackson an incredible fantasy football performer, ranking in the top 10 at his position. Cue the Week 13 game against the Atlanta Falcons, and now fantasy owners with both of the players are experiencing something much different. In that game last week, Spiller racked up 149 yards on 15 carries with a rushing touchdown. So, Spiller is back, right? He’s your starter?

Well…Fred Jackson had 78 total yard and two touchdowns in the game, one more fantasy point than Spiller. As mentioned, Jackson is the ninth-ranked running back in the NFL with 633 rushing yards, 293 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. Spiller and Jackson are nearing a 50-50 split in carries. Jackson’s edge comes in short-yardage situations; he had 40 first downs on the season to Spiller’s 16. He has seven rushing touchdowns to Spiller’s one. But Spiller has the edge in the home run type plays, as he has seven runs of 20 yards where Jackson has just one. With both of them healthy, both of them coming off a big game, and both with such unique skill sets, who do you start?

To answer that, we look at the Buccaneers’ defense. The Bucs ranks seventh in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to RBs, giving up just 18 fantasy points per game, so whichever Bill you start is going to have an uphill battle. Against the Buccaneers, it would seem that C.J. Spiller has the better chance of finding fantasy success. The Bucs have allowed just two running back rushing touchdowns this season, one of the best in the NFL. They are also susceptible to longer plays, having allowed eight rushes of 20 yards, 13th-most in the league. Both are decent plays here, and it is hard to keep either of them out of a starting lineup, but should you own both, Spiller may have the advantage.

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