Monkey Knife Fight Go Long:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Thursday Night Football is back, as the NFL gears up for its second week of games. The Carolina Panthers are home this Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in what should be a relatively high-scoring affair. Vegas currently has this game set at 49.5 total points, and the Panthers are 7-point favorites via the spread. Last week, the Panthers looked solid against the Los Angeles Rams, despite ultimately losing the game by three points. The Bucs, on the other hand, were embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers, losing by two touchdowns. Both teams will look to pick up their first win this week.
Monkey Knife Fight is currently offering bettors the opportunity to select three offensive players from both teams to combine for more than 216.5 total receiving yards. If these three players do combine for more than 217 receiving yards, this contest pays out 1.5x.
The Panthers are currently dealing with some uncertainty regarding their offensive game plan. Cam Newton recently joked about Norv Turner drafting Christian McCaffrey in his fantasy leagues, emphasizing that the Panthers’ offensive coordinator neglected to open up the playbook to downfield pass attempts. On top of that, Greg Olsen is dealing with a back injury that could limit his snap count against the Bucs. Last week, he received 9 targets, catching 4 passes for 36 yards. Those targets will likely get distributed amongst McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Ian Thomas, if Olsen misses any time. One thing is certain – McCaffrey is going to see around 10 targets. He has the explosiveness to turn a screen play into a long touchdown, and it makes sense to roster such a consistent player in the receiving game, despite being consistent in the running game, as well.
The Bucs’ players are more set in their offensive roles, but Jameis Winston struggled to find a groove against the 49ers. He completed 20 of 36 passes for slightly under 200 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Those targets were rather spread out, no wide receiver seeing more than six. Mike Evans only caught 2 passes for 28 yards on 5 targets, and OJ Howard caught 4 passes for 32 yards on 5 targets. Both running backs – Dare Ogunbowale and Peyton Barber – saw at least four targets, and even Breshad Perriman was targeted five times. Regardless, Mike Evans is the go-to wide out for the Bucs, and he should see significantly more targets this Thursday. He has big play ability, and over his last 16 games, he is averaging over 7 targets per game and 9 yards per target. He is securing almost 22% of the total targets per game for the Bucs’ offense, as well. Winston’s success is very minutely correlated to Evans’, suggesting that even when Winston is bad, Evans has good games. This is a no-brainer recommendation.
Evans does have a significant positive correlation to one player on the Bucs’ offense, though – Howard. When Evans succeeds, Howard trends in a positive direction, as well. Over the last 16 games, Howard has 12.3% of the total target share and 15.4% of the total receiving yard share for the Bucs’ offense. Winston has never been shy about his love for the TE position, throwing the ball 80 times to Nick O’Leary his final year of college. He has been much better regarding passer rating when targeting the TE position in the NFL, and he has been consistently praising Howard during the offseason and preseason. Last week, the Panthers allowed 5 catches on 6 targets for 27 total yards against TEs. In 2018, they struggled against the TE position, and it would be surprising if the Bucs did not force the ball to Howard this week. Howard has speed and quickness, making him a deep threat at a position that tends to only see short routes. He has both consistency and upside, which is great for a contest like Monkey Knife Fight’s Go Long.
Recommended Players: Mike Evans, OJ Howard, and Christian McCaffrey