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  • Tom Brady, Retirement, and Dynasty Implications

    Jersey Giveaway
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    After a false start, Tom Brady officially said goodbye to the NFL. Where do the Buccaneers go from here?


    Without Tom Brady leading the Buccaneers next season, what does this mean for his former teammates? What options are out there? Do the Bucs have his successor on their current roster, or will they turn to an old friend to return? Let’s dive into what’s next by first looking back at what they lost.

    The GOAT

    For the first time in this century, the NFL won’t have Tom Brady in it next season. The seven-time Super Bowl-winning QB officially announced his retirement and will leave the league holding countless records โ€” many of which will be extremely difficult to break. Brady’s remarkable run of success is absolutely unprecedented and we may never see anything like it again.

    What’s so remarkable about how the 44-year-old went out? Well, from a fantasy standpoint, 2021 was statistically the second-best fantasy season of Brady’s career. Most QBs decline, and eventually fall off a cliff, but not Brady. He supported elite weapons and the shock of him retiring after such a great season will be felt by the weapons he leaves behind in 2022.

    Current Buccaneers Fantasy Players – Buy, Sell, or Keep?

    Buy

    Chris Godwin, WR, 25 years old
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    This one is an absolute risk, but 25-year-old WRs with this level of talent don’t often hit free agency and leave. Even if he doesn’t leave, without Gronkowski and Fournette next year, Godwin is likely to command a healthy amount of targets. If he does leave, he’s going to command the type of money given to WR1s and should be treated as such by whatever team lands him.

    I understand the concerns with the knee injury he suffered in his last game, and I get that this risk isn’t for everyone. The injury is discounting him in people’s rankings and it’s the rare time you can actually add Godwin to your team without breaking the bank. Recognize that you’ll need a fill-in to start 2022, as even if he’s playing he won’t be himself. Over the back half of 2022, you’ll have a top-eight dynasty WR.

    Sell

    Rob Gronkowski, TE, 32ย years old

    If you’re reading this and you still have Rob Gronkowski, go sell him right now, I’ll wait… All set? Okay, let’s get back to it. He’s said time and again the only QB he wants to play with is Brady. Gronk already retired once to avoid playing without Brady.

    I know his last season was great, but a 32-year-old TE with his injury history โ€” assuming he comes back โ€” isn’t a bet I’m making. I’d rather get out for any value I can. This one feels obvious, but seriously, I’d get anything I possibly could before the announcement comes that Gronk is retiring from football and is off to party with Brady (though I’d be happy to hear he retired from USAA commercials).

    Leonard Fournette, RB, 27ย years old

    Leonard Fournette is technically a free agent, so this is really about value. He’s 27 years old coming off a fantastic season when he was on the field. That means hopefully you can get out now. RBs at this age or older are assets I’ll always sell a year early to maintain maximum value.

    One thing Brady did better than any QB was checking down and taking what defenses gave him. Fournette saw 84 targets this year, the second-most of his career. Without Brady, regardless of where Fournette plays in 2022, expect that number to come down. That, combined with a less efficient offense, which likely means less touchdown equity, means trade him away. Ideally, once he signs somewhere this offseason.

    Keep

    Mike Evans, WR, 28 years old
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    Evans’ run of 1,000+ yard seasons to start his career is unparalleled at eight, and he’s somehow still only 28 years old. I’m listing him as a hold, but with a caveat. If you’re in a full rebuild, I would wait until in season then sell when Evans’ volume ticks up to at least 2018 level targets (138) if not all the way to 2015/2016 levels (148/173).

    The QB situation is scary, I get it. Evans is likely to be the only show in town next year, as each of the sells above and the buy below are all set to hit free agency and cash in or retire. Whoever is his QB, expect hyper-targeting of Evans, as he’s clearly the best player on offense. He’s likely on his way to a volume-driven WR2 range finish. As a contender, I want that player with upside if the right QB is in place.

    The Other Guys

    Ronald Jones and Giovanni Bernard are free agents, leaving Ke’Shawn Vaughn alone in the backfield. Bernard is likely to hold a similar role if he plays next year, which isn’t fantasy viable, but the others are intriguing buys. Jones might finally find a 1A role in a committee somewhere and doesn’t turn 25 until camp this summer. Vaughn likely has some role on the Bucs next year, though unlikely as the lead.

    Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Jaelon Darden all return at WR, and Johnson and Darden are interesting cheaper buy options. My favorite of the two is Darden, loved his profile coming out and want to see him take over the Godwin role next year, but Johnson was the one playing that post-injury this year. He’s struggled in his two seasons though and hoping Darden can carve out a slot role in 2022.

    At TE, O.J. Howard is a free agent while Cameron Brate is still under contract. Even if Gronkowski and Howard leave, I’d expect Brate to back up another player signed onto the Bucs in free agency. Howard is a cheap buy at tight end, as it can sometimes take a few years and a change of scenery to become the guy people thought he could be. If he leaves, a team like the Jets could be a fun landing spot.

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    What Does the Succession Plan Look Like in Tampa Bay?

    Without Brady, what are the Bucs going to do going forward? Is the solution on the current roster or do they look for external reinforcements? We’ll go through some of the options for what Tampa can do and who are the likeliest options.

    The Current Options

    Blaine Gabbert was Tampa’s backup QB in 2021, though his contract is up. As someone coach Bruce Arians is very familiar with, Gabbert is likely to resign with the thought he could compete with the other option already on the roster. As long as Arians is back like he said he was, this isn’t an ideal option but will be fine as a roster competitor.

    Kyle Trask, 2021 second-round pick, is probably one of the favorite options, just to see what you have in him. He led a Florida Gators team for two seasons, including his final year throwing for 4,283 yards and 43 touchdowns. While Trask was a late bloomer, he showed teams enough to get himself drafted and will be a fairly seamless fit stylistically.

    External Options

    Due to drafting Trask in last year’s draft and picking late in the first round, I view the draft route as unlikely. This leaves either trade or free agency as the options. Either way, I believe the Bucs will struggle to get enough cap space cleared in order to fit a high-end option. Currently only holding $7M in space, Brady’s retirement will only exacerbate the issue. As such, I view the trade route as unlikely as well.

    With such limited space, trading is also unlikely, which leaves free agency. The top options areย Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, and ย Jameis Winston. One option jumps off the page, Winston returning to Tampa and reuniting with Arians and Evans. Making him fit under the cap is the issue, but his final season there he threw for 5,109 yards and 30 TDs.

    Regardless of who starts between Trask, Gabbert, or maybe Winston, the Arians system and lack of other weapons should keep Evans very involved. While none of these options will match Brady, the Bucs can develop their young QB and will have lots of fantasy values as the high-end starters move on to bigger salaries elsewhere.


    Thank you for reading my article!ย Please remember to follow me for more content via Twitterย @FFFBallersย  and @IDPGuys as well as check out my IDP Guys author page and the IDP Guys website.

    Discussion

    1. […] His performance this season drastically increased his fantasy value and should set him up for all the advantages as he enters into free agency. Some dynasty owners like fellow IDP Guys writer Justin Frye might note Fournette’s age (27) and consider this a good time to let him go to get the most bang for their buck; as he mentions in his article titled ‘Tom Brady, Retirement, and Dynasty Implications.’ […]

    2. […] Where are some potential landing spots for the enigmatic QB? I think that Pittsburgh and Washington make sense again (if Denver wanted this type of player, they can start Drew Lock). The Steelers are particularly enticing with how much Roethlisberger threw it last year. He would also have some great offensive weapons and Chase Claypool would rocket up rankings. I have one other option though, and I wrote about it before… […]

    3. […] Godwin is likely the best WR to change teams. I wrote about him some here, and still feel similarly without knowing where he goes. If he returns to the Bucs, I’m not […]

    4. […] several older options that are likely to be less expensive to buy. I mentioned Rob Gronkowski in my Bucs article and am not sure he plays, but if you do he’s likely to be cheap without Tom Brady. I think […]

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