Tom Brady Fantasy 2020
The Tom Brady era in New England is officially over. He posted on social media early Tuesday morning saying he would not be returning to the Patriots in 2020. This was then followed up by the report later made by ESPN’s Adam Schefter stating that Brady would sign with Buccaneers. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, this deal would be worth 30 million per year. Ultimately Brady chose the Buccaneers over the Los Angeles Chargers because he wanted to remain on the east coast to be closer to his family. Now, what does this mean for fantasy football?
The new-look, and potent, Buccaneers. pic.twitter.com/NMbqEvRqlQ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2020
Fantasy Impact of Players effected
The fact that Tom Brady is ending up in Tampa Bay is going to shake things up when it comes to their top two receivers – Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. It also is going to have an impact on guys like O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, and the Tampa Bay running backs. I think the biggest mistake fantasy owners can make is projecting everything to remain the same from last year in Tampa’s offense. Obviously, Bruce Arians not bringing back Jameis Winston showed his displeasure with the way the offense overall operated so projecting both Evans and Godwin to amass over 1,100 yards apiece seems unrealistic. The same can go for the Buccaneers to pass for 5,100 yards. The overall passing volume is going to decrease for Tampa, but with Brady, there is a chance efficiency improves. Brady is definitely the biggest winner of the move because he should be attempting more passes downfield.
According to ESPN, Arians has encouraged aggressive quarterback play in terms of air yards per attempt in his work with Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, and Winston. Brady finished last season ranked 26th in the NFL in average pass distance. Brady has finished in the top 10 in air yards per attempt only once since ESPN began tracking the stat in 2006, and that was in his 2017 MVP campaign.
So when it comes down to the individually Buccaneers offensive players I slightly lean Godwin over Evans with Brady at the helm. Godwin played 63.4% of the snaps from the slot in 2019 and Brady has shown an affinity to heavily feature his great slot receivers. Evans is much trickier to scope out at this time. He is going to need to thrive off end zone targets where according to PFF he ranked second in the NFL last year. Evans has never been much of a YAC player and is not much of a wide receiver separator. He averaged just four yards after the catch last season. His average yards of separation distance from the closest defender was 1.2 which ranked 69th in the NFL. For perspective, Julian Edelman ranked 19th (1.68), and Godwin ranked 40th (1.48).
In fact, most of Brady's top wide receivers in New England were under 6-feet tall. pic.twitter.com/MFjGahvcEO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 18, 2020
In terms of backs and tight ends, this could be what fantasy owners have been waiting for when it comes to O.J. Howard. Though the narrative that Arians does not feature his tight ends; this is a fallacy. In Weeks 1-16 in 2018, Tampa Bay total TE targets – 105 (10th most). In 2019, Tampa Bay total TE targets – 113 (10th most). But don’t be surprised if Brady ends up liking Cameron Brate more if Howard struggles early on. For the backs, Dare Ogunbowale is interesting because he could be that pass-catcher that Brady has relied on throughout his career. He led the running backs in receptions, targets, and red zone targets. James White last year with Brady led all running backs with 20 red-zone targets.
Prediction/ Dynasty Tips Advice
Brady has expressed a strong interest in getting back with Antonio Brown. There are obvious ties between Brown and Arians going back to Pittsburgh so you have to wonder if in negotiation talks with Brady that he wanted Brown to be in the fold for 2020. If I owned Brown in dynasty I am immediately putting him on the block. Even if he does play with Brady, Brown is 32 in July and will be competing for targets with Evans and Godwin.
Ultimately, Brady is going to finish inside the top-10 quarterbacks. Considering he finished as QB12 last year, I would expect some improvement from a fantasy perspective with all of his new weapons. Every single QB that has finished top-6 that past four seasons has had at least two receivers with career yards per target of at least 8.0. Chris Godwin (10), Mike Evans (8.7), O.J. Howard (10.4) all are in that threshold. If you own Brady in dynasty I would be looking to sell on the hype. Brady’s upside will always be limited because of the fact that he is not mobile. Each top five quarterbacks last year (including Winston) had at least 250 rushing yards.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 18, 2020
From a deep dynasty look, I would be interested in trying to buy low on a couple of lesser-known wide receivers/tight ends in Justin Watson, Scott Miller, Cameron Brate, and even Tanner Hudson. We saw both Evans and Godwin go down last year and we saw immediate success from other Tampa receivers like Breshad Perriman. Watson played in the slot in over 50% of his snaps last season. Miller flashed at points when he was healthy. His yards per route run (1.46) ranked tenth amongst rookie wide receivers and his yards per reception (15.4) ranked fifth.
Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are great perimeter targets for Tom Brady with the @Buccaneers but who will be his security blanket in the slot? Who can the Bucs get to be his Troy Brown/Wes Welker/Julian Edelman? That’s an essential piece that Brady has never played without.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 18, 2020
I wonder who gets TB12 his avocado ice cream first pic.twitter.com/ISRVQxnFLH
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 18, 2020
The majority groupthink here is that Brady landing in Tampa gives the edge to Godwin over Evans. But in dynasty where we have long-term outlooks on players, this is the time to buy-low on Evans. Evans has six 1,000 yard seasons in his first six seasons; the only other player in NFL history to accomplish that is Randy Moss. He has done this with multiple quarterbacks that include Josh McCown and Mike Glennon when those teams were averaging well below eight yards per attempt. It wasn’t until the last two seasons when Tampa started to average more than eight yards per attempt. Brady’s career average yards per attempt it 7.5 and his 6.6 mark last year was his lowest since 2002 his second year as a starter in the NFL.
Thanks for reading!