In their first season with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady under center, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had several fantasy impact players. Despite several free agents and salary cap issues, the Buccaneers brought back their entire starting offense from last season. Coming off their Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, will the Buccaneers repeat this season? More importantly, will the Buccaneers be a fantasy gold mine again in 2021? Let’s dive into it.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.
Quarterbacks – Tom Brady
During his first year in Tampa Bay, Brady had 4,633 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns and finished as the QB8, averaging 21.1 fantasy points per game. However, Brady got off to a slow start. Over the first nine games, Brady averaged 19.2 fantasy points per game, scoring under 19.2 fantasy points five times. However, once the Buccaneers added Antonio Brown, Brady finished the season on fire, averaging 23.6 fantasy points per game over the final seven games, scoring over 29.5 fantasy points three times. With Brown back, joining Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski, Brady has the best supporting cast of his career. Furthermore, with several passing records in reach this season, expect Brady to have one of the best years of his career.
Running Backs – Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard
Last season, Jones and Fournette combined for 1,345 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. At different points last season, one back had control of the starting role while the other appeared glued to the bench. Jones ended the season as the RB20 while Fournette finished as the RB35. However, in the playoffs, Fournette finished as the RB1, averaging 21.7 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Jones scored a total of 13.9 fantasy points in the playoffs.
Even after re-signing Fournette in the offseason, the Buccaneers signed Bernard to take over the third-down back role. The Buccaneers’ backfield has turned into a three-headed monster. Bruce Arians recently praised Bernard and saying he will have a big role in the offense. As the last running back drafted on average, Bernard is the best value in this backfield. Unless Jones or Fournette misses time with an injury, no Buccaneers’ running back will finish top-36 this year.
Wide Receivers – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown
Evans has averaged 13.5 or more fantasy points per game in each of his seven seasons, averaging 16.3 fantasy points per game for his career. However, his touchdown production has been anything be consistent. In his seven seasons, Evans has scored double-digit touchdowns three times. Yet, in the other four seasons, Evans has averaged six touchdowns per season. Furthermore, Evans is the definition of a boom or bust player every week. Last season, Evans scored over 17 fantasy points in five games. By comparison, he scored under 10.5 fantasy points in six games. While Evans should have no trouble finishing the year as a mid WR2 or better, expect his weekly play to give fantasy owners headaches.
After his breakout 2019 season, Godwin regressed last year. In 2019, Godwin finished as the WR2, averaging 8.6 targets and 19.7 fantasy points per game. Then in 2020, Godwin finished as the WR31, averaging seven targets and 15.9 fantasy points per game. However, Godwin’s play didn’t change much with Brown on the team. In four games without Brown, Godwin averaged 7.3 targets and 16.2 fantasy points per game. By comparison, in the eight games with Brown, Godwin averaged 6.9 targets and 15.8 fantasy points per game. While Godwin finished the year as the WR31, on a point per game basis, he finished as the WR15. Godwin should finish the year in the mid to low-end WR2 range. However, unlike Evans, expect Godwin to be consistent weekly.
In eight games with the Buccaneers, Brown averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game. However, he was arguably the most valuable Buccaneers receiver. Last season, Evans had 109 targets while Godwin had 84 compared to 61 for Brown. However, on a per game basis, Brown averaged 7.6 targets per game compared to 6.8 for Evans and seven for Godwin. Furthermore, in the eight games Brown played, Evans averaged 7.9 targets per game while Godwin averaged 6.9 per game. The most likely case scenario is Brown equally splits targets with Evans and Godwin again this season. However, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Evans and Godwin are going in the fourth round while Brown is going three rounds later. The best way to handle the Buccaneers’ receivers this season is to get Brown in the middle rounds.
Tight Ends – Rob Gronkowski
Despite taking a year off, Gronkowski played well last season, averaging 9.3 fantasy points per game, finishing as the TE13 on a point per game basis. However, the 9.3 fantasy points per game average was the lowest of Gronk’s career. While he played in all 16 games for the first time since 2011, Gronkowski was very inconsistent weekly. He had six games last season with over 11 fantasy points. By comparison, Gronk scored under 7.5 fantasy points in half of his games. Furthermore, with the return of a healthy O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, Gronkowski will see a dip in his 12.7 percent target share and 15.6 percent touchdown rate from last season. That said, Gronk has limited upside and is nothing more than a streaming option.
With Todd Bowles running the defense, the Buccaneers finished as the D/ST9 last season, averaging 7.3 fantasy points per game. However, in the playoffs, the D/ST averaged 8.2 fantasy points per game. During the regular season, the Buccaneers finished tied for fourth in the NFL with 48 sacks. They also finished tied for fifth with 25 turnovers. In the offseason, the Buccaneers re-signed Shaquil Barrett and Ndamukong Suh. The duo combined for 14 sacks and three forced fumbles last season. Then, the Buccaneers used their first-round pick in the draft on Joe Tryon. In his final season at Washington, Tryon had eight sacks in 13 games. Given all the talent on the roster, the Buccaneers D/ST is a lock to finish as a top-five unit this season.
Follow Mike Fanelli on Twitter @Mike_NFL2
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images