Monday Night Football marks the end of Week 13. We have an interesting battle between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while both teams are below .500, this actually has playoff ramifications. It seems no one wants to run away with the NFC South, or event take a commanding position. All that could leave you with some hopes of turning the tide in fantasy matchups this week. Below I’ll look at Monday’s game, but first let’s consider a few takeaways from Sunday.
The 49ers gamble is in trouble
The 49ers pushed their chips in for 2022 when they traded most of their good remaining draft picks for Christian McCaffrey. With Jimmy Garoppolo back at the helm, it seemed like a team that was a dropped interception away from the Super Bowl could possibly go a step further in 2022. That moved a 3-4 team to 8-4 on the season with a win over the Dolphins yesterday. Sure, they’re still two games behind the Vikings and three games behind the Eagles, but the 49ers are leading the NFC West and seem in position to make the playoffs and make another run. Then Jimmy G. broke his foot. He’s now out for the season and that leaves the 49ers with option C, rookie Brock Purdy at quarterback. The team claimed Josh Johnson, a veteran, for the active roster as well, but for a team with a Super Bowl caliber defense and incredible set of offensive weapons, this is a major setback.
The Bengals have the Chiefs number
Three in a row. The Bengals beat the Chiefs late in the 2021 regular season, a game that helped cement the Bengals’ playoff run. Then, in the 2021 AFC Championship game, the Bengals did it again. The came up with a three-point win to advance to the Super Bowl. Turn the clock forward to December 2022 and we have the same two teams producing the same result. The Bengals, once again, need a win to help propel a playoff run. The Chiefs, once again, have big playoff aspirations. And, once again, the Bengals get the three-point victory. The win keeps the Bengals tied atop the AFC North, while the loss leaves the Chiefs looking for answers and now starring up at the Bills for the top seed in the AFC.
The Chargers are in trouble
It’s a season that began with an incredible weight of expectations. Many predicted the Chargers to have a great season, possibly even making a Super Bowl run. The thing is, it hasn’t played out that way. The Chargers are, again, an talented team. They are, again, plagued by injuries and unexpected losses. That continued Sunday when the Chargers lost to the Raiders 27-20, dropping to 6-6 on the season. Now, they continue a tough stretch that sees them battling the Dolphins in Prime Time in Week 14 and the Titans in Week 15, two teams that are chasing the playoffs. It ends with the Colts, Rams and Broncos, but in a conference where it looks it will take at least 10 wins to make the playoff field, there isn’t any room for error left for the 2022 Chargers.
And now, on to the Monday night game.
New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
The Saints aren’t dead yet. With the Falcons now sitting at 5-8 and the Panthers sitting at 5-7, everyone is withing a game and a half of first place with only a few games left. The Buccaneers, also at five wins and below .500, are in first place right now. With Tom Brady back, it was supposed to be an easy road to the playoffs for Tampa Bay. Sadly, it’s been anything but easy so far. Offensive line woes and other injury concerns, paired with inefficient play, has left the Buccaneers struggling. The Saints, meanwhile, started with Jameis Winston but have turned to Andy Dalton of late. Coming off a shut out loss to the 49ers, the Saints’ offense needs a spark.
In terms of fantasy, for the Saints, hopefully you had a better option that Dalton. I still like Alvin Kamara as an RB2 thanks to volume and Chris Olave as a WR2. Those are the only Saints I’m playing this week with Juwan Johnson out. For the Buccaneers, Brady is a mid-tier QB2. He has struggled against the Saints since joining the Buccaneers. I like Chris Godwin as a WR2 and Mike Evans has WR2 potential. Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette is in line to potentially return, but figures to split the carries with Rachaad White. Both are in flex territory for me.
The Pick: Buccaneers
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.