Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marched all the way back from a 17-point first half deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 31-27 in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan is all too familiar with Brady and double digit point leads as the Falcons had a 28-3 lead on Brady and the New England Patriots late in the 3rd quarter of Super Bowl LI and went on to lose securing Brady’s fifth Super Bowl ring.
Here’s the fantasy recap from this week 15 NFC South matchup.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-5)
QB Tom Brady
(31-for-45, 390 passing yards and two touchdowns)
Brady and company couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first 30 minutes. The team only mustered one drive of more than six plays and had a measly 61-yds of total offense with 0 points on the board heading into halftime. Whatever head coach Bruce Arians said in the locker room clearly worked as the Buccaneers came out on fire in the 2nd half, scoring a TD on its first three drives and 4 of its 7 total drives in the final two quarters.
With starting RB Ronald Jones out due to a broken finger and landing on the COVID-19 list, the Bucs leaned more on Brady than usual. The 20-year veteran made the necessary adjustments at the half and got in a comfortable rhythm going forward. The first year Buccaneers QB threw for over 300 yards and had both of his TD passes come in the second half. With his performance on Sunday, Brady has now gone over 23 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring in three of his last five games and has multiple touchdown passes in five straight contests. He’s a must start in week 16 with a matchup against the Detroit Lions who just allowed Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill to accumulate 295 total yards and five total touchdowns on Sunday.
WR Antonio Brown
(5 catches for 93 yards and a TD)
Surprise to see AB’s name here? You shouldn’t. Halfway through the fourth quarter trailing 27-24, Brady hit a wide-open Brown who beat Falcons rookie CB Tyler Hall on a go route for a 46 yard TD to put the Bucs up for good 31-27. Brown also nearly had another TD in the 3rd quarter when he was stopped at the one-yard line. Brown’s 93 receiving yards was a season-high and the touchdown was his first since week two of 2019 when he had a brief stint with Brady on the Patriots.
As Brown continues to get familiarized with Arians’ offense in Tampa, the WR’s role could continue to increase down the stretch as Brady views Brown as one of his go-to guys on offense. Brown's now recorded back-to-back games of five catches and has five or more catches in four of six games this season. Brown should be seen as a solid flex option next week with a high floor against a Lions team that’s depleted in the secondary and allowed a TD to three different receivers in week 15.
ATLANTA FALCONS (4-10)
WR Calvin Ridley
(10 Catches for 163 yards and a TD)
Even though they’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention, one reason to still watch the Falcons has to be young phenom WR Calvin Ridley. With superstar WR Julio Jones missing his second straight game with a hamstring injury, Ridley accumulated a season-high in catches, yards, and targets on Sunday afternoon. The third-year WR was constantly creating separation against the Bucs secondary leading to multiple big gains. Ridley’s highlight of the game came when he toe-tapped a 12 yard TD catch to put the Falcons up 14-0.
After having a solid first two years in the NFL, Ridley has exploded onto the scene in his third season, recording a career-high 77 receptions through only 13 games, and has his first 1,000-yard season as a pro. Even with Julio missing time throughout the season, Ridley continues to dominate as Ryan’s go-to weapon wherever and whenever on the field. Even with Jones potentially returning next week and a tough matchup against a Kansas City Chiefs secondary, Ridley remains locked in as a borderline WR1/2 with big-play upside in what should be a shootout next Sunday afternoon.