Tom Brady has been a consistent fantasy producer since 2002. Since that season, he’s been inside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks 14 of 18 seasons, with 10 seasons of finishing as the eighth ranked or better fantasy quarterback. But the last two seasons he’s been on the edge of useful, finishing 14th and 12th as he’s hit 42 and 43 years of age while also losing Rob Gronkowski.
Brady is signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, and that will impact the skill position players greatly — but for good or ill? We’ll take a look at the Bucs fantasy players for the 2020 season.
Brady wasn’t his usual self in 2019, but James White and an injured Julian Edelman were his only reliable receivers. Now in Tampa Bay, Brady will get a chance to throw to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who both topped 1,000 yards last season.
Bruce Arians’ offense likes to go vertical and Brady’s arm might not be up for a consistent deep ball, but in comparison with the league, his deep ball was slightly above average last season, according to Pro Football Focus. If he gets the time to throw, he should still be able to connect with his new stud receivers.
The Bucs ranked 10th best in pass blocking according to PFF while the Patriots ranked 12th. With an older gentleman behind center, I’d expect the Bucs to do their best at securing the line for the 2020 season.
Brady should see a bump in fantasy production under Arians’ pass-heavy offense and strong receivers. His upside isn’t what it once was, but he isn’t someone to ignore and has a good shot at being top 10 with upside for a little more this season.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin
Jameis Winston threw the most deep passes (20+ yards) in the league last season with 99 and had an adjusted completion percentage of 44.4 percent and a QB rating of 97.2. Brady threw the 13th-most deep passes with 62, and had an adjusted completion percentage of 41.9 percent and a QB rating of 102.1. Those are middling numbers, much better than Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers, but much worse than Dak Prescott, DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
Those numbers show that he might not be an upgrade for Godwin and Evans, but also that he’s not a big downgrade from Winston. The biggest difference will be interception numbers, which will help the team immensely, but could end up lowering the total targets for his receivers. I expect fewer targets with Brady throwing the ball, but he should be more efficient, helping raise their per target numbers.
Godwin and Evans won’t have the same upside with Brady, but they will still be strong receivers in an offense that allows both to put up top-10 fantasy numbers.
Jones appears to be the lead back with Peyton Barber going into free agency and he did show enough last season to have some hope for his 2020 fantasy numbers. The best sign was an increase in receiving work. But, I would also expect the Bucs to bring in competition for Jones, giving us pause before going all in on a more efficient offense under Brady. If Jones does end up as the no-doubt lead back, he should get a bump from Brady not getting his team behind with pick-sixes.
O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate
We know Brady had a great rapport with Rob Gronkowski and Howard has some of the same abilities as Gronk, but has been unable to break through. Brady is likely his best shot to do that at this point, but there is little for us to hang our hat on for Howard’s fantasy future until we see him take a step forward.
The upside is there and I’d assume that Howard is much cheaper in drafts this season, but if Brady’s presence boosts his average draft position once again, I’ll take a pass in most drafts.
Brate’s fantasy usefulness relies on Howard getting injured or playing so poorly that he loses work to Brate. Howard is the only Bucs tight end I’d take a risk on this season as long as he comes at a discount.