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Fantasy impact of Tom Brady with the Buccaneers

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It's official. TB is going to TB. We didn't have to wait too long into the start of free agency for the biggest name on the board to make his decision. Tom Brady is leaving New England and joining the Buccaneers on a two-year deal, marking the end of one of professional sports' most remarkable eras.

Plenty of retrospectives of Brady's time in Foxborough have already been written and there are likely plenty more still in the works, so I'll spare you all of that. You, dear reader, have come here for fantasy analysis. All of the sepia-toned nostalgia can wait.

Here's the reality. Brady is going to a team that has better pass-catching weapons than what he's had to work with over the past couple of years. Both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans went over 1,100 yards with eight or more touchdowns and both finished as top-15 fantasy wideouts. But part of that success was owed to a quarterback who was more of a gunslinger than Ed Harris in a futuristic Wild West theme park. Unless you somehow forgot about the whole 30/30 thing.

The truth is that Brady has been a much more conservative quarterback over the past few seasons. Maybe it's a function of not having a lot of great downfield targets. Maybe it's a sign of declining arm strength. Either way, nearly half of Brady's throws (49.9 percent) in 2019 were less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. That led to a bonanza for Julian Edelman and James White.

Lest we forget, the Patriots offense did feature Josh Gordon for the first six weeks of the season. Now that every day is a month long, I know that feels like an eternity ago. You'd think that with a downfield threat like that, Brady would have taken a few more deep shots -- especially early in the season when the weather is still warm and his right shoulder doesn't have nearly as much wear on it. That thought would be incorrect. Brady actually threw short even more often (50.1 percent) while Gordon averaged just eight yards per target.

To TB12's credit, when he did throw the ball over 20 yards in the air, he was pretty accurate, completing nearly 39 percent of those tosses -- 12th-best among quarterbacks with 15 or more such throws in 2019. It's just that he didn't throw the ball much over 20 yards. His average air yards per attempt was just 28.2 yards, 11th-lowest, and a far cry from Jameis Winston's 42.2 air yards per throw. It's also been a steadily declining metric for Brady in recent seasons, having come down from 30.7 AY/A in 2017. /p>

Again, maybe most of this is due to the Patriots not sending Julian Edelman on a series of vertical routes. Or maybe it's a reminder that Father Time comes for us all. (Except Frank Gore.)

At this point, I can feel you firing up the Twitter machine to tell me that I'm just a community college reject who's starving for attention. That last part might be true but I do have some positives. First off, as I mentioned above, Godwin and Evans are good at football. Talent can cover a lot of sins.

Mostly it's just a matter of perspective. If you're of the Godwin persuasion, things are looking up for you. Last season, he ran nearly half of his route out of the slot with more than 40 percent of his total yards coming after the catch. His value should stay afloat, if not rise. Things might be a little tougher for Mike Evans, who had fewer YAC than Ronald Jones (gulp!).

This might also be time to get into the O.J. Howard business, if you weren't already. I know that we've been touting him for a couple of seasons now, but like someone predicting the end of the world, we're likely to eventually be correct, right?

As for Brady himself, he ended last year as the QB12 (fittingly), though it was really a tale of two seasons. From Weeks 1-6, he was the QB8, averaging 20.5 points per game. From Week 7 onward, that number dropped to 14.8 FP/game. Maybe Josh Gordon was the key? So maybe Godwin and Evans keep TB12 on a similar pace all season. Or maybe an offensive line that ranked 22nd last season in pass protection (per Football Outsiders) means he won't have quite the amount of time to get the ball out that he did last season. Either way, it feels like a finish just outside the top 10 is in the offing once again, meaning you can afford to wait on Brady in drafts.

This really is a strange new world we live in.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is gaming to confuse the Netflix algorithm. Send him your quarantine weirdness or fantasy football questions via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook, and Instagram.

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