Super Wild Card Weekend continued Sunday with a triple-header of playoff action. It began with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' demolition of the Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay started the game strong and built on its lead in part thanks to good field position. The Buccaneers were missing a number of their usual skill players, but that didn’t stop Mike Evans from going off for a 100-yard day and a touchdown. The slate continued with four of the best teams from the 1990s squaring off.
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- Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, such as offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
- Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
- Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.
- Mike Evans: 9 receptions, 117 yards, 1 TD, (4 explosive plays)
- Giovani Bernard: 13 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD, 5 receptions, 39 receiving yards, (33.3% threat rate)
|Philadelphia Eagles||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Giovani Bernard‘s return: Tampa Bay has played without Leonard Fournette since Week 15 and Ronald Jones since Week 17. That forced the Buccaneers to use Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as their two backs last week. Bernard had served as the Buccaneers' third-down back early in the season, but by November he lost most of his playing time to Fournette. The former Bengal was healthy enough to return to the team after landing on injured reserve with issues to his hip and knee.
Fantasy managers had spent the offseason hoping Bernard would carve out a role on first and second downs rather than just being a third-down back. He finally saw that role today, playing both third downs and as the primary backup to Vaughn on early downs. That includes multiple goal-line opportunities. Bell did not contribute on offense and could be cut from the team once others are healthy. We can expect this kind of rotation only if Fournette and Jones still aren’t ready to return next week.
Buccaneers thin at wide receiver: The Buccaneers lost Chris Godwin for the season, cut Antonio Brown and ruled out Cyril Grayson with a hamstring injury. This left Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson and Breshad Perriman as the starters. It’s been surprising Scotty Miller hasn’t been more involved after his 2020 season, but Miller remained a distant fourth on the depth chart. Johnson and Perriman both saw a few targets, but this mostly meant Evans could be a focal point of the offense.
Eagles' future at RB: The Eagles have used four running backs all season, depending on who is healthy, and all four backs saw significant action today. For the most part, they were a non-factor. Miles Sanders barely averaged over two yards per carry, and Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell’s touchdowns occurred once the Eagles were down 31-0. Sanders was the lead back all season when healthy but ranked only 27th out of 51 backs in PFF rushing grade among those with at least 100 rushing attempts. Jordan Howard is one of the Eagles' few unrestricted free agents coming into the offseason. The team has 10 draft picks in the first six rounds and could very well spend one of those selections on a running back.
- Elijah Mitchell: 27 carries, 96 yards, 1 TD (3 avoided tackles); 1 reception, -11 receiving yards
- Deebo Samuel: 10 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD (4.8 yards before contact per carry); 3 receptions, 38 receiving yards
|San Francisco 49ers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jeff Wilson Jr.||3||1||0||0|
|Dallas Cowboys||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
The 49ers' healthy backfield: The 49ers were relatively healthy at running back today. Elijah Mitchell was the only back to show up on the injury report, but he was a full participant in practice on Friday, and San Francisco didn’t limit his playing time. Trey Sermon returned from injured reserve, but he remained at the bottom of the depth chart and was inactive for the game.
The 49ers’ only change in running back philosophy occurred on third downs. JaMycal Hasty and fullback Kyle Juszczyk had been splitting third-down snaps in recent weeks. However, Juszczyk took all of the third-and-longs today, with Hasty being limited to one snap in those situations. That is good news for Juszczyk receiving props and bad news for Hasty's and Jeff Wilson Jr.‘s receiving props next week.
Cowboys free agent receivers: The Cowboys' offense was kept in check over the first three quarters, with just three players gaining positive receiving yards.
Cedrick Wilson and Dalton Schultz were two of those players, and they are both unrestricted free agents heading into the offseason. Injured receiver Michael Gallup is also among the Cowboys' unrestricted free agents.
Given Dallas' cap situation, it will be difficult for the team to bring any of these pass-catchers back. The Cowboys currently need to clear $22.8 million in cap space to break even, according to Over The Cap.
The easiest way for them to clear a lot of space fast is by letting go of Amari Cooper — who recorded 64 yards tonight — which would clear at least $16 million in cap space. Making matters worse, Dallas’ best offensive linemen aren’t getting any younger, either. All things considered, it seems unlikely the Cowboys' offense will be as good in 2022 as it was in 2021.
- Jerick McKinnon: 12 carries, 61 yards, 6 receptions, 81 receiving yards, (106 yards after the catch), 1 TD
- Travis Kelce: 5 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD, (36 yards after contact)
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Ray-Ray McCloud III||14||10||2||0|
|Benny Snell Jr.||18||13||2||2|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Kansas City’s New RB1: Clyde Edwards-Helaire has missed the last few games with a shoulder injury. He tried to practice on Wednesday but didn’t practice the rest of the week and was ultimately ruled out. Darrel Williams was limited all week with a toe injury. He was questionable and declared active. Most people expected him to be the lead running back as usual. If not, Derrick Gore was expected to be the early-down back. Gore saw his first offensive action in Week 6 and saw equal or more carries to Jerick McKinnon every week since then.
It was surprising to see McKinnon enter the game on the first play. He put together a dominant performance for Kansas City. Williams entered the game on third down and primarily functioned as a third-down back. But he lost a fumble early in the third quarter and didn’t see the field again. He left any fantasy manager who trusted him with negative fantasy points. The Chiefs scored touchdowns on each of the six following drives. Kansas City’s RB group will be very hard to predict next week, as Williams should be healthier and Edwards-Helaire could return.
Kansas City’s evolving wide receiver room: Kansas City surprisingly limited Tyreek Hill last week — he was a little limited again today but played much more than last week. He put together a fine day with five receptions for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Gordon, who caught just five passes during the regular season, was a healthy inactive. This left Kansas City with a four-man rotation at wide receiver. All four had a minimum of 7 PPR points in the game. This makes each of them a viable option in DFS lineups next week.
The return of JuJu Smith-Schuster: After injuring his shoulder in Week 5, Smith-Schuster was expected to miss the rest of the 2021 season, but he was activated and able to play today. He didn’t quite see his normal amount of offensive snaps, but he was a clear third receiver for Pittsburgh, greatly limiting the playing time of Ray-Ray McCloud III. His five receptions tied for the most on the team. Both slot receivers as well as James Washington are unrestricted free agents after this season. Pittsburgh has the cap space to bring at least one of these players back, but it’s unlikely all three will want to return. The fact that Smith-Schuster was able to play today and be relatively healthy should greatly help him in contract negotiations this offseason.