Tom Brady played pretty well in Week 14 and the Buccaneers beat the Vikings comfortably, but that still didn't translate to good production from any of their Fantasy-relevant passing game options. It's just another in a long string of disappointments for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, and it raises some tough questions for all of them heading into what should be a premium matchup against the Falcons in Week 15.
Brown was actually the best Fantasy option of the bunch, catching all of five targets thrown his way for 49 yards Sunday; such were the meager bounties in this one. Evans had three catches for 56 yards, Godwin caught just two of three targets for 25 yards, while Gronkowski salvaged his day with a 2-yard touchdown, his lone catch of the game. Sure, Brady only threw the ball 23 times, but that's part of what made this such a disappointing game.
Even in games they've won comfortably, the Buccaneers have tended to throw the ball plenty, which is needed when you have a QB who spreads the ball as much as Brady does. Brown and Evans led the team with five targets Sunday, and that translates to just a 21.7% target share. That's right around where the Buccaneers leading target has been all season, so if you can't even count on them to air it out consistently, it becomes even tougher to rely on anyone here.
That makes Week 15 (and 17, for those of you who play) so tough. The Falcons are one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, but the Buccaneers just disappointed against the Vikings, who haven't been any good themselves. How much more confidence can you have in anyone here just because it's against the Falcons?
Gronkowski will still be a viable No. 1 TE, almost by default, and Godwin should be a WR2 for the matchup, despite a disappointing Sunday. Evans is a touchdown-or-bust option -- two games with more than 60 receiving yards since Week 4 -- while I'd have to be pretty desperate to start Brown at this point. It would be nice to say I feel confident in any of them given how good the matchup against the Falcons is, but after this kind of performance in this kind of season, you just can't.
Here are some of the other biggest losers from around the NFL in Week 14:
At some point, the loss of talent around him was going to catch up to Watson, so it's actually a credit to him that he played as well as he did. Of course, you don't get degree of difficulty points in Fantasy, so Watson's 18.6 points Sunday were a pretty big disappointment. We'll see if Brandin Cooks is able to return in Week 15 against the Colts -- David Johnson should be back after it was reported his absence Sunday was due to a close contact with a positive COVID-19 test -- but Watson doesn't quite feel like as much of a sure thing as he once did. Even the best quarterbacks can only thrive for so long with backups.
Because Mostert doesn't catch many passes, he either needs big plays or big volume to be a must-start Fantasy running back, and he hasn't been getting either lately. He did run the ball 14 times with four targets in Week 14, but turned that into just 65 rushing yards and two catches for 5 yards. He's pretty much been in a 60-40 split with Jeff Wilson since coming back from IR, and with the 49ers using a backup QB and missing George Kittle, those big plays haven't been there either. He's just a flex play at this point.
Gallman had a bit of bad luck Sunday, with Dion Lewis vulturing a goal-line touchdown, but this is also a reminder of how tough it is for running backs who aren't big factors in the passing game to be consistent Fantasy contributors. Sure, his consistent workload in the running game -- at least six carries -- means he'll always give you something, but because he has just 14 targets in those six games, it's hard for him to have a big Fantasy day unless he finds the end zone. And, after doing so five straight games, he's gone two without. Touchdowns are fluke-y and nearly impossible to predict, which makes relying on them risky business (unless you're talking about Derrick Henry), and Gallman's Week 14 was a reminder of that truth.
The Bengals must have been looking for any possible excuse to try someone else at running back because they essentially benched Bernard for his first fumble in over 800 carries on the team's first drive. And it's not like they were just taking a zero-tolerance stance against fumbles, because Trayveon Williams fumbled on the very next drive and ended up leading the team with 12 carries for 49 yards after a brief stint in the doghouse. It's not hard to see why a team in the middle of a rebuild would want to see someone besides the 29-year-old career backup get some extended run, but there was no sign that something like this might be coming; Bernard played 67% of the team's snaps in Week 13! Bernard may get the start in Week 15, but there's no way you're trusting him against the Steelers. In fact, he's an easy drop.
Starting Coutee in Week 14 was an easy call with Cooks out, but you got lucky if you did have him in your lineup, because his three-catch, 24-yard day would have made him one of the biggest disappointments of the week if not for the touchdown. Now what do you do about Week 15? Coutee wasn't even a role player before Will Fuller's suspension, but his Week 13 breakout made him look like a strong Fantasy play for the stretch run. Did he turn back into a pumpkin, or was this just a bump in the road? He sure hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt to assume the latter, so I'm viewing him as more of a lower-end flex play.
It's not just that DK Metcalf has surpassed Lockett as the Seahawks best receiver; that became clear weeks ago. No, what has been especially disappointing about Lockett's play this year is how little upside there has been in his game. Lockett is averaging a career-worst 10.9 yards per catch, and he hasn't had more than 67 yards in a game since Week 7's massive 200-yard, three-touchdown game. He's averaging just 10.9 PPR points per game in seven games since, putting him in low-end WR3 territory. It's hard to write him off as just that, because we know how high the upside has been in the past, but seeing him struggle to do much in a game where Russell Wilson threw four touchdowns is pretty disheartening.
Jones has generally gotten a bad rap in his career for being too inconsistent, but it's hard not to be frustrated with how he's produced lately. With Kenny Golladay sidelined, he's had a significant role of late, with at least eight targets in four of the last five. In that span, he has two big games -- Week 13s and 10 -- and three games with 51 or fewer yards. What's even more frustrating is he nearly had a bigger game, but the officials missed what sure seemed like it should have been a 34-yard catch in fourth quarter. That would have made Jones' day look better, and might give you reason to start him in Week 15 against the Titans. It's a good matchup, and he should be in line for a big day, but you certainly can't count on it.