Separated from Bill Belichick, how good will new-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Tom Brady be in 2020?

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady has his best supporting cast in years. Are you buying him as a top-10 fantasy QB or fading him at 43?

Liz: BUYING. Last year Brady completed just 61 percent of his passes ... and still posted top-15 fantasy numbers. His receivers also averaged two drops per game. For reference, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for eight total drops in 2019. I’m not going to argue that Brady isn’t in decline, but a top-nine deep ball completion percentage (41.7%) suggests that there’s still plenty left in the tank. 

When taking into account his upgrade in red-zone weapons (17 TDs between Evans and Godwin in 2019, which was just seven shy of Brady’s total last season), a reunion with Rob Gronkowski (one of his most effective and cherished security blankets), and Bruce Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy, low-end QB1 production feels attainable. He’s the Yahoo Consensus QB11.

Dalton: Last season Brady had the lowest completion% of his career despite having the second-highest expected completion% and the lowest aDOT of his career. If his atrocious CPOE (-8.7) and anemic YPA (5.9) in the second half at his extremely advanced age weren’t enough red flags, he also has to deal with changing teams/leagues/systems during a shortened offseason. Especially at this insane ADP, I’m fading Brady in a big way this year (and buying Jarrett Stidham at a much cheaper cost).  

Andy: We shouldn’t need to tell you that Brady, entering his age-43 season, is nowhere close to his peak. Literally no quarterback in NFL history has ever excelled at his age. But it’s obviously possible for a quarterback to be a disappointment in reality while being incredibly useful for fantasy purposes. Last year, the Bucs allowed Jameis Winston to put the ball in the air a league-high 626 times, leading to a 5,109-yard season. Winston was verifiably terrible in several important ways (30 INTs, 47 sacks, 60.7 comp%), but he treated fantasy managers well. Brady should have volume on his side in the season ahead, plus he hasn’t had a receiving corps this talented in over a decade. If you can draft him in the QB10-QB14 range, I’m in.

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Are Chris Godwin (18.6 ADP, WR6) and Mike Evans (23.0, WR7) overvalued, undervalued, or properly valued at their current ADPs?

Andy: These prices aren’t outrageous if you simply look at the per-game production of each player last season. Brady’s lack of history with either receiver is, of course, a real concern, particularly given the nature of this offseason, but we can still feel confident that each will see 120-plus targets. I’m partial to the concept of a Brady-Godwin pairing, though Evans remains a fringe No. 1 fantasy receiver on my board. Gronk (and perhaps Tyler Johnson) should claim a few goal-to-go targets, which impacts the projections for Godwin and Evans. Still, there aren’t many sure-things in the WR12-WR24 range, so I can only downgrade these Bucs so far.

Dalton: They are sharing targets with each other as well as newcomer Rob Gronkowski (and O.J. Howard remains) from a 43-year-old quarterback who’s showing clear signs of decline and is now changing leagues, so to call Godwin and Evans overvalued as second-round fantasy picks would be a gigantic understatement. I don’t have either as top-12 WRs on my board right now. It’s especially wild that Godwin is being drafted as a borderline top-five fantasy wide receiver after not finishing top-30 in WOPR last season.

Liz: Godwin can do all the things and be used in all of the places. That sort of versatility — especially when paired with a new signal-caller — increases his value and subsequent draft price. In addition, he’s also hyper-efficient, as evidenced by the fact that he converted 86 of 94 catchable targets and posted a top-six true catch rate (91.5%). If he can do that with a volatile passer like Winston, then he’s guaranteed to produce with a technician like Brady.

On the other hand, scooping Evans inside of the top-10 feels like a bit of a reach. I currently have him at WR12. Unlike Godwin, Evans has always struggled with efficiency. Admittedly that’s in large part due to his role as a deep threat and is illustrated via a 2019 average target distance of 15.9 yards (WR4). His presence as a touchdown maker has certainly buoyed his fantasy stock, but Godwin actually outscored Evans in 2019 ... and the addition of Gronk as an end-zone weapon slightly lowers Evans’ theoretical scoring ceiling. Ultimately, the variance that Evans presents prevents me from enthusiastically buying him as a rock-solid WR1 for fantasy purposes.

How do you handle this backfield? Take Ronald Jones or rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn with a late-round pick, play the waiver wire, or ignore?

Dalton: Given I’m so down on Brady and it likely turning into a roughly even timeshare, this backfield is a pass for me (although I did grab Vaughn in Round 10 in our recent Best Ball draft). I much prefer stacking backs early and grabbing wide receivers during this stage of fantasy drafts.

Liz: DO NOT WANT. I believed in the resurrection of RoJo last year and was #burnt to the tune of zero goal-line carries. His back-to-back 100-plus yard efforts over the last two weeks of the season may have been enough for Arians, but they aren’t enough for me … not in the eighth round when I can have Todd Gurley and his surgically repaired knees instead. 

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I comped Vaughn to Shane Vereen so when we’re talking about a Tom Brady-led offense there’s some interesting connective tissue there. The Vandy product has plenty of toughness and speed, but I’m not sold on him being the RB1. I think a platoon is much more realistic, especially at the top of the season. Ultimately, I don’t believe either of these RBs to be an every-down option and would prefer to fade the whole situation.

Andy: IT’S A TRAP. You are under no obligation to draft a Bucs running back. Either player is fine as a flier, but please don’t double-down on this backfield. Jones saved his career with a respectable season in 2019, so he’s probably still a slight favorite in terms of touches. For me, there’s no must-draft back on this roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers projected 2020 lineup
Tampa Bay Buccaneers projected 2020 lineup

#FantasyHotTaek

Liz: As discussed on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Pod, I predict a fire start to Gronk’s comeback tour. He’s going to begin 2020 as an absolute stud, choreographing three vintage spikes over the first five weeks of 2020. But as the grind of the game wears on, and Tom’s chemistry with other WRs grows, Gronk’s numbers will dwindle ... and fantasy managers will be treated to a plethora of sell-high articles.

OVER/UNDER on 10 Win Total from BetMGM

Dalton: The evidence so clearly points toward Brady being in massive decline, and while the Bucs have an emerging defense, I don’t trust Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich, and the coaching staff to overcome it, even with two superstar receivers on the roster (and some version of the best TE of all time). Getting to play the Panthers and Falcons 25% of the schedule definitely helps, but Tampa Bay also drew the short straw when it comes to rest this season, and the team enters with a bunch of hype and high expectations. The Bucs “UNDER” is one of my favorite totals of the year, and I’ll also be betting their “No” to make the playoffs at +260.

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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