Rob Gronkowski

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't just send a shockwave through the NFL. It also altered the fantasy football landscape.

The fantasy values of both the Patriots and Bucs' skill players will be much different in 2020 following Brady and Gronk's departure from Foxboro. We've gone over what to expect from the go-to guys in New England's offense, so now it's time to go over Tampa's weapons.

The obvious benefactors -- at least one would think -- of Brady becoming a Buc are his primary wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But will their numbers, along with Brady's, see a significant increase as expected, or should we pump the brakes on the hype?

And then there are the running back and tight end positions. Can Tampa's intriguing rookie running back take over the starting job? What can we really expect out of Gronk after a year off from football?

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Here are our projections for the Bucs' key offensive players with Brady and Gronk in the fold:

Tom Brady, QB
Projected Stats
: 4,300 yards, 29 TD, 9 INT
Projected Draft Round: 5-7

Brady is set up to be a really solid starting quarterback in fantasy football this year. That being said, those who expect Brady to put up elite numbers and draft him any higher than Round 5 are just asking to be disappointed. There are going to be some growing pains in Bruce Arians' offense. Sure, having his old pal Gronk around as a security blanket will help, but it's going to take time for the six-time Super Bowl champ to get comfortable down in Florida. There's little doubt Brady's numbers will be better in nearly every category now that he has some real weapons at his disposal, just make sure you don't reach when plenty of other QBs will do just fine in the middle rounds.

Ronald Jones II, RB
Projected Stats
: 650 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-9

Jones was an OK flex play at points last season, but overall he simply hasn't been the running back Tampa Bay has hoped for these last few seasons. That led to the Bucs selecting Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn on Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft. Jones is the No. 1 guy heading into camp, though it doesn't look like that will be the case throughout the 2020 campaign. Wait until the mid-to-late rounds to take Jones, and maybe even consider passing entirely to take Vaughn if you're so inclined to take a Bucs RB.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Projected Stats
: 550 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

Speaking of Vaughn, he could be a major difference-maker for the Bucs in Brady's offense this season. He rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns for Vandy last season and was pretty effective through the air too, tallying 270 yards and a TD. It's always tough to count on a rookie, but it's worth the risk and the ceiling definitely seems to be higher with Vaughn than it is for Jones. The addition of McCoy, however, makes Vaughn's fantasy outlook a bit murky.

LeSean McCoy, RB
Projected Stats
: 400 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

It's impossible to now as of right now how the Bucs backfield is going to shape up in 2020. Although McCoy is a shell of what he once was, Bruce Arians definitely should find some sort of role for the 32-year-old veteran. The obvious question is whether that role will be more significant than Jones' or Vaughn's. If you're really that compelled to draft a Bucs running back, something I'd avoid entirely, it's a total toss-up and a matter of personal preference.

Mike Evans, WR
Projected Stats
: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

There's no question the Brady-to-Evans connection is going to excite people heading into the new season. However, I'm somewhat skeptical about how their playing styles will mesh. Brady isn't one to take many risks, and Evans made a living out of catching Jameis Winston's ridiculous jump-balls downfield. It really is impossible to know how that'll work itself out, but nonetheless we're believers in Evans' elite talent and project him as a solid WR1 again in 2020.

Chris Godwin, WR
Projected Stats
: 90 receptions, 1,350 yards, 10 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

Godwin was the breakout star of the 2019 fantasy football season as he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers with Jameis Winston under center. Now, the question is whether he can do it again with Brady. That may seem like a silly question, but again we have no clue what to expect from Brady in Arians' offense and how it will differ from what Godwin thrived in a year ago. Regardless, he definitely should be one of the first WRs off the board.

Rob Gronkowski, TE
Projected Stats
: 50 receptions, 700 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8

How do you make stat projections for a guy who took a year off from football to party in Miami and join the WWE? With injury concerns to boot, that makes drafting Gronk in fantasy football an extremely risky move. Obviously, with that high risk could come high reward as Tampa's offense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire NFL and Brady is going to look to Gronk early and often as a security blanket. Draft the former Pats tight end in the middle rounds, long after guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are off the board.

O.J. Howard, TE
Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 450 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

The Bucs are going to run two-tight end sets in 2020, so don't think that Gronk's presence will limit Howard's production. In fact, it could even help it. Howard was a huge fantasy disappointment in 2019 and is out to prove he isn't a bust this year. There's also still a chance he gets traded to a TE-needy team and benefits from a change of scenery. Either way, you could do worse than Howard in the later rounds of your draft.

Fantasy football 2020: Top 10 busts to avoid at major positions

Fantasy football 2020: Top 10 busts to avoid at major positions

Nobody likes a pessimist. But trust us: This advice is for your own good.

Just as finding a sleeper in the later rounds can separate you from your fantasy football competitors, spending premium draft capital on a player who flops can ruin your team. (Just ask anyone who drafted Antonio Brown in the first round last season.)

Identifying bust candidates is tricky business, though. As you'll see, many of the following players are talented fantasy options who deserve roster spots. But all of them come with red flags that could signal a serious drop-off in production in 2020, meaning they probably should be taken later than their average draft position.

So, if you're on the clock and see one of these players on the board, you may want to explore other options.

Click here for the gallery.

How Tom Brady looked in first Bucs practice with Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy

How Tom Brady looked in first Bucs practice with Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy

Tom Brady and his new Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates are hitting the ground running throwing.

The former New England Patriots quarterback participated in his first official practice as a Buccaneer last week as Tampa Bay's training camp opened.

Tuesday's practice was the team's first session open to the media, however, and the first we've seen with Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and new running back LeSean McCoy all on the field together. (McCoy officially signed with the team Tuesday morning.)

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So, how did Brady look with his new squad? Reporters were stationed on the far end of Tampa Bay's practice field for Tuesday's early-morning workout but still captured decent footage of Brady throwing to the Bucs' pass catchers.

Here's Brady uncorking a few deep balls into the endzone, courtesy of ESPN's Jenna Laine:

Here's another view of a similar Brady throw from The Athletic's Greg Auman:

And here's the 43-year-old QB hitting wide receiver Mike Evans on an out route. (If you turn the sound up, you can hear Brady barking out the snap count.)

Tuesday's workout was more of a "light throwing session" than a full-blown practice, per Auman. But Brady still brought his trademark tenacity to the field, according to Laine, who spotted the six-time Super Bowl champion "shouting encouragement to his receivers" and giving McCoy and Evans a hug and a fist bump, respectively.

As for the on-field product, Laine noted Brady's timing with his wide receivers "already looked strong, with the chemistry not far behind."

That should come as no surprise considering the veteran QB held informal workouts with Bucs skill players as early as May after leaving the Patriots in March. 

"He was really on top of it in the spring," Bucs tight end Cameron Brate said last Thursday in a video conference with reporters. "It's all the same game -- everyone runs, essentially, the same plays. You just have different verbiage for it. Just making those connections for him in his head because he was in New England for 20 years.

"He said it was definitely weird calling things different terminology for him, but I think he's going to be up to speed in no time."

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