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Todd Gurley stays hot: Bucs-Rams fantasy preview

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While loads of people will be sitting down at their local cinema tonight to enjoy (hopefully) the premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," there is still a football game tonight as well that plenty of people will be tuning into. After all, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams square of there are playoff implications on the line -- both in real life and fantasy. Will Todd Gurley build off of last week's performance, or slip back into being limited by the Rams inept quarterback play? For the Bucs, can Mike Evans lift their passing attack without the steady, veteran presence of Vincent Jackson opposite him? We get into all of that and more below in our Week 15 Thursday night preview.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams, 8:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network

Buccaneers:


Jameis Winston, QB

Winston failed to exploit a great matchup last week against the Saints, and will be hard to trust this week against the Rams. The St. Louis defense boasts a fierce pass rush thanks to Aaron Donald wrecking interior lineman, as well as an improving young secondary led by Jenoris Jenkins. They've allowed a 66 completion percentage over the last month, but just 7.1 yards per attempt. Winston is playing on a short week, on the road and against a good defense. There are better streaming options available this week for fantasy owners.

Doug Martin, RB

The Bucs falling behind so early last week forced them into a pass-heavy game script, which led to Martin only playing 28 snaps. He averaged an impressive 7.4 yards per carry on his 11 rushes, though, and found the end zone. The team knows they need to establish Martin early and often to succeed on offense, especially with Vincent Jackson out. Martin will be an RB1 this week even against a dominant front seven.

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Mike Evans, WR

Throwing out his first game back from injury when he had just three targets, Evans averages almost five more targets per game when Vincent Jackson is out of the lineup this year. The Rams have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to wide receivers in the last month, so Evans owners need not be scared off by their season-long ranking (fourth-fewest). Still, given Evans' inconsistency and this being a road contest, we feel better about him as a WR2 or flex this week.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE

Seferian-Jenkins saw a slight uptick in playing time last week, but his snap percentage is still far too low to rely on in fantasy as he works his way back from injury. Those forced to play ASJ can rest their hopes on the fact that he's seen six targets in each of the last two weeks, despite playing just 37 percent of the snaps.

Rams:


Todd Gurley, RB

After back-to-back single digit fantasy performances, Gurley reminded all those who doubted him just how special he truly is. The Lions boast a great run defense, but Gurley still went off for 140 yards and two touchdowns against them in Week 14. He's the centerpiece of this offense and should remain in starting lineups the rest of the way.

Tavon Austin, WR

Austin saw just 22 touches over the last month, scoring one touchdown in that span. While he definitely has a high ceiling, his usage in the offense is just too low to trust -- especially in the fantasy playoffs.

Rams D/ST

The Rams pass rush has returned to life, with six sacks the last two weeks, but the defense has managed just one turnover in that span. Jameis Winston has been pretty careful with the football as a rookie, and has only been sacked 24 times on the season. Weird things happen on Thursday night games, though, so owners should keep the Rams in their starting lineup.

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