Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers accomplished what any rational thinker would’ve believed in Week 1. The guy didn’t play well, nor did his overrated Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense.
Before the season, the NFL Network said Brady would become a top five fantasy quarterback playing alongside such talent that augmented when the team signed running back Leonard Fournette.
Only Brady and the Bucs laid an egg, falling 34-17 to the New Orleans Saints before scoring a touchdown in garbage time to make the final score a respectable 34-23. But don’t let that fool you.
Brady picked up right where he left off in 2019, a mid-tier quarterback who failed to make anything happen. But his season-opening rushing touchdown was impressive and set an NFL record. Give the old man some credit!
Here are seven reasons the NFL Network was wrong about Tom Brady and why you should think twice about adding him to a weekly fantasy team.
1. 2019 Statistics
Brady’s statistics were below average despite having the best defense in the league in 2019 and given plenty of opportunities to succeed.
Brady completed 56% of his passes just twice in the final nine games of 2019. In that same span, he averaged just 6.1 yards per pass attempt. And in five of those games, he threw just 1 touchdown pass or less.
In other words, Brady started to decline in 2019, and it should’ve indicated to you how much the guy has left here in 2020.
Sure, he has more overall talent surrounding him in Tampa than he did during his final season in New England on offense. But that doesn’t undermine the fact that his defense is spotty.
For a guy who led the Patriots in 2019 to just 21.8 points per game in the final 9 games of the season, there’s little room for error in Tom Brady and the Bucs’ offense. On the surface, it says he looks like a good fantasy option. But considering his decline in 2019, and his beyond spotty play in Week 1, expect Brady to further implode rather than bounce back.
But it’s too much for the 43-year-old quarterback. Expect Brady to have his games, but expect a season like what you saw from Baker Mayfield in 2019.
2. Overrated Skill Position Unit
Other than Chris Godwin, there isn’t much reason to get excited about the talent surrounding Brady. Godwin is the real deal and picked up right where he left off in 2019 with 6 catches for 79 yards.
Okay, so he didn’t find the end zone, but he still managed a decent game from a fantasy standpoint. It’s a good game if you’re in PPR. But really, who else is there?
Mike Evans puts up some monster games. But in 2019, 568 of his 1,157 receiving yards came in just three games. 31 of his 67 receptions in 2019 came in those same three games, as did 6 of his 8 touchdowns.
In the other 13 games, Evans recorded just 36 receptions, 589 yards, and 2 touchdowns. In his debut game with Brady, he caught 1 pass for 2 yards. He doesn’t serve as a big help to Brady and the Bucs’ offense. Evans is nothing more than feast or famine.
Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been a viable fantasy option since 2017. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard are both gadget players. Neither one will breakout and help Brady overachieve.
Ronald Jones has been so-so throughout his career and in Week 1, averaged 3.9 yards per carry on 17 touches. Ditto for Leonard Fournette, who had 5 carries for 5 yards. LeSean McCoy had one reception for 2 yards.
Brady was supposed to pick up and improve this offense but instead, it was the same old routine in Tampa. Sure, it was only one game. But Brady’s problems have stemmed from last season. And it doesn’t look like the special talent in Tampa is improving his situation.
3. Wild West
The new Patriots of the NFL are the Kansas City Chiefs, and Tyrann Mathieu was livid when the Chiefs gave up 2 touchdowns to the Houston Texans in garbage time. Going forward, don’t expect the Chiefs to get soft when they build big leads.
Brady and the Bucs play some of the league’s best defenses in the AFC West, and it’s juxtaposed with many of these teams owning the hottest offenses. The Chiefs are just one hot defense the Bucs must play.
Other hot defenses in the AFC West include the Los Angeles Chargers, who held the Cincinnati Bengals to just 13 points on offense. And there’s the Denver Broncos, whose defense returns budding pass rusher Bradley Chubb, even if they lost Von Miller for the season.
And don’t count out the Las Vegas Raiders’ defense despite a bumpy start to the season.
Their front seven has the potential to make life miserable for Brady and company. Of course, Brady must face the Saints once more this season at Raymond James Stadium. They also face a Los Angeles Rams defense who played better than advertised in Week 1 plus a powerful defense in the Minnesota Vikings.
Despite a poor outing in Week 1, the Vikes boasted one of the league’s best units in 2019, so expect improvement among them. With that said, half of Brady’s games will come against top-tier defenses in the NFL.
4. Opposing Air Raids
As mentioned earlier, Brady and the Bucs must keep up with opposing air raids both within and outside the division. In years past, this was an advantage to have Tom Brady on your weekly fantasy football team.
We know what the Chiefs can do, but the Bucs don’t have a single weak offense within their division. The Falcons didn’t play a great game. They looked flat. However, the Bucs don’t face them until Weeks 15 and 17. And if last year is any indicator, the Falcons’ offense tends to get hot as the season wears on.
The Carolina Panthers’ offensive performance shouldn’t have been too shocking considering how well quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played during his time with the Saints in 2019. He also has two of the league’s best pass catchers in Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore.
The Los Angeles Rams didn’t look great in Week 1 as the running game is still a work in progress. However, with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, Josh Reynolds, and Gerald Everett, this unit can break out at any time, especially if and when Cam Akers becomes an effective runner in the league.
The Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos also have the potential to put up some big numbers, as the Raiders did in Week 1 against Carolina.
This wouldn’t be so much of a red flag had he finished 2019 strong, but his numbers weren’t much better. With that said, it’s a red flag.
5. The Patriot Way
If you drafted or started Cam Newton for your fantasy football team, you’re a fantasy genius. Yeah, Newton’s passing numbers were pedestrian, but he’s still the same Superman Cam Newton that he was in Carolina.
Did you expect anything different? It seems like Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick always finds two things—his players’ strengths and how they can take advantage of his opponents’ weaknesses.
It’s how he won and will continue to win without Brady. An AFC East Championship in 2020? Perhaps not, but only because Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills are looking strong here in 2020 with a convincing win over the lowly Jets.
Brady’s success both in the fantasy and real-life realm came from the Patriot Way and Belichick’s systems. Now, he’s in a different system in TB, where his numerous committees aren’t playing to opponents’ weaknesses.
The question was never, “Can Belichick succeed without Brady?” He did it with three other quarterbacks, and it looks like he’ll be fine with a fourth. The question has always been, “Can Brady succeed without Belichick?” Or better yet, “can a 43-year-old Brady succeed without Belichick?“
Brady’s fantasy numbers dropped over the stretch in 2019, and he picked up where he left off in 2020.
6. How Old Is Too Old?
First off, let’s give Brady some credit. He became the oldest player in league history to rush for a touchdown.
But other than that, you can count on just one hand how many non-kicker or non-punters have succeeded in this league at the age of 43. Guys like Jerry Rice tried to play into their season at the same age, but thus far, none have succeeded.
Let’s compare Rice’s situation to Brady’s.
- Rice retired just two months before his 43rd birthday. During his season at age 42 in 2004, he caught just 30 passes. It was a career-low in seasons where he started at least 14 games.
- Now, let’s talk about quarterbacks. Doug Flutie became a backup. Ironically, he was Brady’s backup at age 43. Quarterback Steve DeBerg started a single game at age 44 and completed just 9 of 20 passes for 117 yards before he was pulled for some guy named Tony Graziani.
- Some of us may have thought Brady to be an outlier, perhaps the one player who could be the guy to play until age 45 or 46. But like Rice, who recorded 92 receptions at age 40 in 2002, Brady became the league MVP at age 40.
Rice dropped off in fantasy production the next season, recording just 63 receptions. Brady’s fantasy production started to dip in 2018, but a solid defense helped him and his Patriots win the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. Brady’s fantasy production tumbled in his 20th year in the league at age 42, just like Rice’s.
It appears he’s on the same boat as Rice. No, you won’t see Brady retire. Look for him to give it another shot at age 44. But in terms of fantasy, you have to wonder if he has anything left in his old age.
It’s a wonder Brady’s made it this far, as few position players in NFL history have made it to age 43. None of them performed reasonably well. Many, like George Blanda and Lou Groza, become strictly special teams players.
7. Another Odd Couple
I’ll admit it was surprising to see Brady sign with a team who employed Bruce Arians as its head coach. While not a disciplinarian to the same extent as Bill Belichick, Arians is headstrong. He’s stubborn, old-school, whatever else you might expect.
I never thought the Arians-Brady duo was a good fit. And maybe it will be if the Bucs’ running game can get going and Brady can become a dink and dunk game manager. He’s probably best-suited for it at this point in his career.
But we also know Brady loves to exert control to a certain extent. And if he doesn’t get it, expect a rocky relationship between Brady and Arians.
If Week 1 is any indicator, look for this relationship to deteriorate sooner than later.
We all know how things played out regarding Brady-Belichick. But how much of a say does Brady have among coaches Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich? The two are a dynamic duo whose offensive system was carried over from Arizona. How much leeway is Brady getting?
Not only can this tank Brady’s fantasy production, it will tank the Bucs’ entire season.
Brady’s fantasy numbers have been in decline since 2018. And while they looked good for the first seven games of 2019, Brady showed his age, as his numbers took a turn for the worst in 2019.
What are your thoughts on Brady’s fantasy production? Is he finished (at least from a fantasy standpoint), or can he and the Bucs turn it around and become the high-flying offense they were in 2019? Tell us your thoughts and if you think you would trust him to go against the fantasy leagues at the online sportsbooks.