As expected, the Green Bay Packers fed running back Aaron Jones early and they fed him often in their Week 2 win against the Chicago Bears. The results were fruitful, with Jones ripping off 132 rushing yards and two total touchdowns.
Week 3 features a different beast with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that plays an aggressive style under head coach Todd Bowles that will mix formations and frequently dial up the blitz.
The headlines will flock towards Aaron Rodgers going up against Tom Brady but both superstar quarterbacks are facing questions entering this one.
Tampa Bay will be without wide receiver Mike Evans, who is suspended for the game after getting in an altercation against the Saints last week. Fellow wideouts Chris Godwin and Julio Jones both missed the Week 2 game and neither practiced Wednesday.
Rodgers is still trying to get a rapport down with his young wide receivers and has yet to look comfortable this year albeit it’s only been two games.
It’s an appetizing early season matchup and the fantasy questions surrounding this one will put your mind in a blender.
If you need explanations on the categories for our fantasy guide, take a peek at our Week 1 guide
Let’s jump right into this Packers-Bucs showdown.
DON’T THINK TWICE
Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette
Volume is key in fantasy and Fournette has seen plenty of it in the first two weeks. The bowling-ball style runner for the Bucs had 21 carries in Week 1 against the Cowboys and 24 last week against the Saints. Fournette also had two receptions in each game. Entering this game, Tampa Bay knows it will be without Evans and could be without Godwin and/or Jones, too. All of it points towards a heavy workload for Fournette, who, despite all the touches, is still sniffing for his first touchdown of the season. Green Bay’s defense was shredded by Bears running back David Montgomery last week especially in the second half. Montgomery finished with 122 yards on 15 carries. You can bet Fournette is licking his chops at this matchup.
Packers RB Aaron Jones
Did we mention volume is key? Green Bay seems to have learned its lesson from the opener where it only gave Jones eight total touches. Against the Bears, Jones had 15 carries and three receptions and even 18 touches seem on the low end for the dynamic back. The Packers know how key of a piece to the puzzle Jones is and even against a vaunted Tampa Bay defense, Jones will get the ball put in his lap plenty of times and in a variety of ways. Bank in on the quantity panning out and Jones making the most of it.
Tampa Bay has been on the road for both of it games and came out boasting a 2-0 record. In Dallas to start the season, Bowles’ defense yielded just three points while racking up four sacks and forcing a turnover. They followed up that masterpiece by dizzying Saints quarterback Jameis Winston in New Orleans, forcing five turnovers, sacking Winston six times and notching a defensive touchdown. Don’t get cute with it because the Buccaneers are facing Rodgers. The Packers’ offense is far from a finished product and this Tampa Bay defense is legit. With Bowles running the defense in Tampa Bay, the Bucs have held Rodgers to just three touchdowns in two games while forcing three interceptions and sacking the MVP nine times. Don’t think twice, play Tampa Bay’s defense.
Packers WR Allen Lazard
No Packers wide receiver has double-digit targets on the season through two weeks but keep in mind Lazard missed the opener with an ankle injury. He’s not only Rodgers’ safety valve, but he’s also Green Bay’s top option in the passing game and when Rodgers trusts you, he throws to you. Lazard should see the targets against the Buccaneers even while facing a stingy secondary. Lazard had a touchdown against the Bears last week but finished with just three targets, something that won’t be the norm this year. Green Bay will have different candidates step up throughout the year on offense like Sammy Watkins did in Week 2, but old reliable will be Lazard and it should jumpstart against the Buccaneers.
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
He has to throw to someone, right? Like Rodgers, Brady has had a slow start to the season statistically even with Tampa Bay being 2-0. Playing at home for the first time against a Green Bay defense still trying to find a consistent rhythm gives Brady a high floor. The ageless wonder who continues to stomp on father time had plenty of years in New England where he made average joe wide receivers look like borderline stars. While Brady has an embarrassment of riches with the Buccaneers, this game may be a throwback to some of the Patriots days when Brady would sling the pill all around to some unfamiliar names. The Buccaneers will throw it regardless of who is in or out of the lineup.
Packers RB AJ Dillon
Dillon continues to fall into the high floor category under the assumption that he’ll get his reps and his touches each and every week. Dillon led the Packers in receptions and receiving yards against the Vikings and had 18 rushes against the Bears for an encore. We’re waiting for the big game, the one where “Quadzilla” goes for 100 yards and a touchdown, and that game will certainly come sooner rather than later. Tampa Bay’s run defense is legit but that doesn’t mean the Packers will abandon ship on the running game. They can’t afford to do that.
With so many question marks on the Tampa Bay offense entering this one, including on the offensive line, this has to be a spot where Joe Barry’s defense at minimum puts forth a top-10 fantasy week. Green Bay had a bend-but-don’t-break mentality against the Bears but you can bet that Brady will have double, if not triple, the amount of pass attempts in this one than what Bears quarterback Justin Fields had against the Packers (11). Despite that, this defense for Barry still has an abundant amount of talent at all three levels. Kenny Clark has been a game wrecker up front while rookie Quay Walker has been flying around the field at inside linebacker. Jaire Alexander had an interception last week while edge rusher Rashan Gary tallied another sack. Brady will be more than willing to take the underneath passes if that’s what Green Bay is willing to give up so Barry will have to try and mix up coverages to keep Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich guessing. Green Bay has yet to really bring pressure via the blitz this year and this could be the perfect game to break it out at the party.
FEAST OR FAMINE
Buccaneers WR Russell Gage
It sets up favorably on paper from a depth perspective for Gage giving the injuries to Godwin and Jones and Evans being suspended. Viewing it through that lens and running with the “Brady will have to throw to someone” idea, Gage could be plugged into lineups as a sneaky option to feast. On the other end of the coin points to a wide receiver who has seven receptions for 41 yards on eight targets through two games. Yes, that was with Tampa Bay more stocked at wide receiver, but Gage hasn’t shown much through two games that would warrant starting him outside of the fact that he may get more looks with others being out. To pile on the pessimistic end, matching up with any of the cornerbacks for Green Bay in Alexander, Eric Stokes or Rasul Douglas doesn’t exactly stack up favorably for Gage. Roll with it if you believe he’ll get the attention in the game script and from Brady with others being out, stay away if you go off recent trends and the matchup against Green Bay’s secondary.
Packers WR Sammy Watkins
You could put almost any Packers wide receiver in this category for the time being and Watkins lands here this week after putting up 93 yards on three receptions against the Bears. Watkins took the lid off the Chicago secondary on a 55-yard reception in the fourth quarter on Sunday night when the Packers were putting the game on ice. This week could be similar or it could be the Lazard show mixed with one of the rookies like Christian Watson or Romeo Doubs having their moment in the spotlight. Watkins’ performance against the Bears may be a sign of things to come or he could’ve been the first in what will be a rotating crown to be worn by all Packers wide receivers at various times throughout the year. That’s for you to decide.
Packers TE Robert Tonyan
Five catches for 47 yards in two games leaves a lot to be desired from Green Bay’s starting tight end but it’s worth reminding that Tonyan is returning from a torn ACL suffered last season and came back in rather quick fashion (injury occurred last October). Until Tonyan is more of a focal point on the offense or until he at least has one standout game, he needs to be stashed away.
Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate
One reception for seven yards against the Cowboys and one reception for nine yards against the Saints. That’s it for Brate so far this year. The injuries elsewhere to the wide receiver core doesn’t apply to Brate having an increased role against the Packers. Tampa Bay didn’t have Godwin or Evans against the Saints and Brate still only had two targets. Stash him away or even consider cutting ties on your roster if you need more depth elsewhere.