This article is part of our Showdown/Single Game DFS Breakdown series.
Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson make for a flashy headline as two former MVPs and two of the league's biggest names in general, and with personalities of that magnitude comes a certain assumption of high-level competitive play when faced against each other. The problem is both the Ravens and the Buccaneers are struggling in most phases of play, including both offense and defense in each team's case. Injuries are largely the reason – Mark Andrews (knee) is questionable for Baltimore after missing practice all week, and that's with RB1 J.K. Dobbins (knee) already out. Tom Brady was already struggling for Tampa Bay, and it won't make anything easier without Russell Gage (hamstring) and second-string left guard Luke Goedeke (foot). The game opened with Tampa Bay favored by one point and an over/under of 43.5, but as of press time the spread was 1.5 in Tampa's favor and the over/under up to 45.5.
Both quarterbacks have pre-built excuses for poor production in this game, yet both are regarded among the best quarterbacks and face defenses nearly as shorthanded as their own battered offenses. This is a tough position to call, and with potentially huge stakes for the slate outcomes.
Lamar Jackson ($11800 DK, $17500 FD) is never an easy fade in showdown slates, because there aren't many players capable of leading a game in both passing and rushing production. If he doesn't have Andrews then Jackson is down his lead receiver, and even his WR1 in title (Rashod Bateman) might not be 100 percent healthy from his foot issue. Jackson can do it all himself at times, but this might be a setting where he must do it all himself, which adds more pressure than usual. Still, no Andres or not it would be disappointing if Jackson couldn't produce here, because the Buccaneers are without CB1 Carlton Davis and slot CB/safety standout Antoine Winfield.
Tom Brady ($10000 DK, $15000 FD) has had a horrendous season to this point, losing back to back road games against two of the league's worst teams and throwing two or more touchdowns just once in seven games. Even if he and the Buccaneers just aren't good anymore, numbers that bad seem hard-pressed to endure a bigger sample size. Even if only for random or otherwise unmerited reasons, Brady has to stumble into some production eventually, especially if he's throwing the ball around 50 times per game. The Ravens defense isn't as battered as the Tampa one, but the Ravens defense has much less talent to start with and is without standout centerfielder Marcus Williams, who was largely the glue that held the entire Baltimore pass defense together. Even with a third-string left guard and no Gage, Brady has no excuse for a continued collapse in this setting – his first home game in three weeks, to be fair.
Leonard Fournette ($8800 DK, $13000 FD) is one of the game's headliners, even with the recent emergence of rookie third-round pick Rachaad White ($4800 DK, $7500 FD). Brady has been throwing so much and the Tampa route runners have been so ineffective that a substantial, unsustainable amount of Brady's production has directed toward both Fournette and White. Fournette is still clearly ahead of White, though, so eventually that RB:WR usage ratio will correct and only one of the Tampa backs is likely to produce notably in a given game at that point. Vulturing does happen and White can make big plays as a pass catcher at Fournette's expense, but it seems like Fournette's usage is locked in and White mostly functions as a breather. The Ravens defense is average at best at defending opposing running backs, so this should be a good outing for whichever Tampa running back gets the prime usage.
Gus Edwards ($7600 DK, $12000 FD) is listed is questionable but it's difficult to imagine the Ravens offense functioning without him, especially after they desperately handed him 16 carries last week, his first in his return from the ACL tear that ended his 2021 season. Edwards is a good runner when healthy, but it's unclear what he's physically capable of on a short week following what might have been excessively high usage in his first game back. Edwards largely went undrafted due to injury troubles he had at Miami (FL). Kenyan Drake ($4600 DK, $8500 FD) is healthy but not nearly as reliable as Edwards – Drake's 11 carries last week went for five yards. Justice Hill ($2400 DK, $7500 FD) might have to pick up the slack if Edwards is limited on the short week, even after losing a fumble in Week 7. The Buccaneers are generally tough on opposing running backs, so if the pie is getting cut three ways and isn't particularly generous to begin with then it could require a touchdown for any of these backs to pay off.
WIDE RECEIVERS + TIGHT ENDS
Mark Andrews ($9200 DK, $13500 FD) is the big story here, as he's the Baltimore WR1 in function when healthy, but he missed all of Baltimore's practices this week with his knee issue. Andrews played through the injury in Week 7 and logged 55 snaps, but he ran only 18 routes and finished with no catches on two targets. Now he has to deal with the short week. Making the correct call on Andrews is difficult – even if he plays he might not be himself, but particularly on a showdown slate even a 75-percent healthy Andrews might make a difference. The Ravens have no replacement for Andrews but the closest thing they have is rookie fourth-round pick Isaiah Likely ($1600 DK, $7000 FD), who might be a surprisingly unpopular pick even if Andrews is out. Likely has seen his role diminish in recent weeks, playing just 33 snaps in the last three and just six last week, but that's because the Ravens made the schematic decision to stop running two-tight end pass plays and instead almost entirely ran two-tight end run plays. Josh Oliver ($200 DK, $6000 FD) took up almost all of the snaps Likely lost, and Oliver is their primary blocking tight end. It should be as simple as this: if the Ravens run any two-tight end pass plays then Likely should see his playing time rise accordingly. If Andrews it out, then Likely almost has to play as their lead pass-catching tight end.
Rashod Bateman ($7000 DK, $12000 FD) should play a big role regardless of Andrews' status, even with himself not necessarily 100 percent on the short week. Bateman played 35 snaps in his Week 7 return from a foot injury, generating four catches for 42 yards on five targets and just 15 routes. Whatever slack Bateman can't pick up would seemingly be left for Devin Duvernay ($6400 DK, $10000 FD). Duvernay is also the returner pairing you'd want if you're looking to add that to a Baltimore DST pick. Demarcus Robinson ($2800 DK, $7500 FD) plays the third-most snaps among Baltimore receivers, though it remains unclear why. Fullback Patrick Ricard ($1400 DK, $5500 FD) also continues to run a puzzling number of routes – certainly the NFL record for most run by a 300-pound player.
Mike Evans ($11000 DK, $14000 FD) is dealing with an ankle injury but will need to step up with Russell Gage out and Julio Jones ($5400 DK, $7500 FD) still questionable with his knee injury. Evans drew 15 targets in just 58 snaps last week, while Chris Godwin ($9000 DK, $12500 FD) drew 13 of his own on 62 snaps. What's not clear is whether CB1 Marlon Humphrey will shadow either of Evans or Godwin. Humphrey can play the slot, where Godwin runs, so the option is there if they want it. Breshad Perriman ($1200 DK, $6000 FD) might need to play the WR3 role with Gage out. Perriman has deep speed and the Ravens have had some coverage breakdowns, so he's an interesting consideration. Unfortunately, Perriman is also liable to run in a committee with Scotty Miller ($3200 DK, $6500 FD) and Jaelon Darden ($200 DK, $5500 FD).
With Cam Brate out the Buccaneers will need to lean more than usual on rookie tight end Cade Otton ($5000 DK, $8000 FD), who ran as the clear TE1 in Week 7. Ko Kieft ($200 DK, $5500 FD) is a blocking specialist yet played more snaps than Kyle Rudolph ($1000 DK, $6000 FD) in recent weeks.
Justin Tucker ($4000 DK, $9500 FD) is a legend for a reason, and it's not uncommon to get stung when leaving him out of a showdown slate lineup. If the Ravens get into Tampa territory but sputter in scoring range it's well demonstrated that Tucker will almost always capitalized. Ryan Succop ($3800 DK, $9000 FD) has been mostly automatic in his own right in 2022, but range has never been Succop's strength so he's not nearly as likely as Tucker to pull off any heroic feats.
The Buccaneers ($3400 DK, $9000 FD) are slight home favorites but it's not easy to tell if this is out of any particular respect for their defense, which is underachieving in general but also has a couple difficult injuries holding it back. Lamar Jackson is on the road on a short week and his top pass catcher might not be available, so this could be a chance for the Buccaneers defense to play better than they would in normal circumstances. The Ravens ($4400 DK, $9500 FD) cost more on the DFS sites, disconnecting with the live spread. There's no doubt Tom Brady has had a profoundly difficult stretch and perhaps it's no fluke – perhaps this is all heralding a dreary end for Brady – but the live betting markets seem slightly less than convinced, for this game anyway.