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Rapid Reaction: Tom Brady Signs With Buccaneers (2020 Fantasy Football)

Mar 18, 2020

Tom Brady in a different uniform? WEIRD.

It might not be the biggest move of the week from a fantasy football impact, but it dwarfs everything else in terms of real football significance. Tom Brady is headed to Tampa Bay – and the move could have major ramifications on the fantasy values of several marquee players. Our analysts provide the low-down here:

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Q1. What is the fantasy football impact of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing Tom Brady?

If you think Tom Brady is going to be brought in to throw the ball 630 times like the Bucs did last year, I think you’re wrong. Brady might be the best of all-time, but he’s not going to walk in and carry a brand new offense to 5,000 yards passing like Jameis Winston did. It’s simply not his game at this stage of his career. For instance, Jameis Winston averaged 10.5 air yards per pass attempt in 2019 while Brady averaged just 7.6 air yards per attempt. So, if you didn’t like Winston as a fantasy quarterback in 2019, you’re probably not going to like Brady in 2020. While Brady should offer a much more stable floor, he doesn’t offer the week-winning upside that Winston did. He should be placed in the conversation with quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford as high-end QB2s.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Everyone is talking about the massive upgrade from the Pats’ receiver core to Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and O.J. Howard but the offensive line is a substantial upgrade as well. It isn’t all peachy, however, as no matter how great Bruce Arians may be, there is a big difference between being a QB in his system and the GOAT’s, Bill Belichick. We’ve seen a trio of backups succeed and win games in this system, most notably Matt Cassel, who went on to do little else away from New England. Brady gets a minor net bump in my rankings but is still just a mid-range QB2 who will be fringe-draftable at best and a weekly streaming option most likely.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and not playing for the New England Patriots in 2020, is still bizarre to me…With that being said, Brady being paired with Bruce Arians is an interesting combo. Arians loves to air the ball out downfield, which Brady has done less and less of over the past few years. He still has the arm strength, but Brady works best when getting the ball out of his hands quickly in the short passing game. Brady hasn’t been a top-tier fantasy QB for a very long time and that’s likely to continue here with TB. Expect him to be around the QB12-16 range and have some weeks where you can roll him out confidently.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Brady will be a more attractive fantasy option than he was last year, but don’t expect him to just walk in and fill Jameis Winston‘s shoes entirely from a fantasy perspective. Winston’s passing (and fantasy) success hinged largely on his deep-ball rate, which has typically ranked in the top five in the league. Since Winston’s debut, Brady has consistently ranked near the middle or bottom of the league in deep-ball rates. Some of that is on the Patriots’ system, but Brady doesn’t throw the deep ball nearly as well as he used to, and probably isn’t interested in airing it out consistently at this stage of his career. He’ll be a borderline QB1 because of his weapons, but don’t expect much more than that.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q2. Who else is impacted by Brady’s signing from a fantasy perspective?

We’ve already discussed the fact that Brady’s average air yards per pass attempt was nearly 3.0 yards less than Jameis Winston‘s last year, right? Well, who was the guy catching those passes down the field for Winston? It was Mike Evans, who averaged 15.3 air yards per target. He’s the one who’ll see the biggest dip with Brady under center, as Brady simply isn’t going to attempt that many deep balls at this stage in his career. Meanwhile, Chris Godwin‘s 10.4 air yards per target is much more manageable. With the way Bruce Arians has used Godwin in the old Larry Fitzgerald role, it should suit Brady’s current skill-set perfectly. Evans is still going to be in the WR2 territory, but Godwin has a real chance to repeat his 2019 production.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

O.J. Howard is the clear winner in the trade, legitimately jumping from my TE13 to (checks notes….ok, yeah, I’m really doing this) TE4 behind Kittle, Kelce and Ertz. We know Brady loves his tight ends and running backs so Howard was a gimme, but Melvin Gordon is the other winner. Vegas currently has Tampa as the favorite to sign Gordon, as Houston went out to get David Johnson and Miami already signed Jordan Howard. If that happens, Gordon could be in for 70 receptions and a huge three-down bell-cow season. He would be my RB7 and a first round pick in Tampa. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans take a step back, as Brady isn’t the same level of deep passer/risk-taker that Jameis Winston is, but both are still 2nd round picks in my mind.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are the big names here for different reasons. Evans is the downfield threat, which was a perfect pairing with Jameis Winston last season. While Brady doesn’t have the elite arm to get the ball way downfield, he’ll make up for it with his accuracy. It just remains to be seen if the Bucs are going to throw the ball as much as they did last year with Winston now. Godwin is going to eat in this offense though and become Brady’s favorite target out of the slot. We’ve seen what Julian Edelman has been to Brady all these years and Godwin will now step into that role for him. O.J. Howard is the other player who stands to benefit here and may actually see enough work to become fantasy relevant next year. It all depends on the offensive philosophy and whether or not they throw the ball 600+ times again.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are fantastic football players, but much of their fantasy success has rested on Winston’s (and Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s) . . . lack of aversion to throwing the ball deep and their aggressive play. Evans, in particular, is consistently among the league leaders in air yards per target, and that’s a negative with the more conservative Brady coming to town. Evans will still be a solid fantasy option, but more of a borderline WR1. As for Godwin, his role fits better into Brady’s skill set at this stage, and he should remain a strong WR1 going forward.Finally, even though we don’t know who the Patriots’ quarterback will be, Julian Edelman‘s fantasy stock will take a hit regardless. Just how much of a hit remains to be seen, but expect Edelman to be more of a WR3 in standard and half-PPR leagues.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

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