It feels like the NFL regular season is creeping up on us for a jump-scare without a preseason, but here we are, less than one week away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting the New Orleans Saints.
Plenty of us out there already have our fantasy football rosters set, but there are still drafts happening, and of course you still have to prepare for your daily and weekly draft competitions!
Well, here at Bucs Nation, we’re going to help you out a bit with our tier based ranks for each viable fantasy football option playing in Tampa Bay. While we’re at it, we’ll grab some quotes and insight from some of the best in the business. Kind of a one-stop shop for all your Buccaneers preseason fantasy football insight.
Let’s get started, with Tier 1.
TIER 1: WIDE RECEIVERS, CHRIS GODWIN AND MIKE EVANS
Our tier system is going to be a bit different than others. For us, Tier 1 are the Buccaneers players you should absolutely start with confidence every week. And if we’re being completely honest with our advice here, there are only two players on this list: Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Now, some of you might be wondering why I listed Godwin first in both the segment title and in the previous paragraph. Well, if you didn’t know - then it’s a really good thing you’re reading this - Godwin is going higher in fantasy drafts than Evans. Despite the longer track-record and Randy Moss-like production from Evans, Godwin’s 2019 breakout not only launched him onto the national scene, it projected him higher than his more accomplished teammate in the eyes of just about everybody.
The Fantasy Footballers for example have Godwin in Tier 3 of their own tier ranking system, while Evans is in Tier 5 with guys like Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons) and Terry McLaurin (Washington Football Team). Their rankings, not mine.
Over at The Draft Network, we find Godwin and Evans both in Tier 2 of Jaime Eisner’s rankings, along with DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals - still weird), Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions), and Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams). That’s more like it.
Then, at the league’s own website, Godwin is NFL.com’s fourth-ranked receiver entering the 2020 fantasy football season, while Evans comes in at eleven.
Either way, both of these guys can carry the WR1 workload for your fantasy football roster, and shouldn’t even be in question when you consider who to roll out on a weekly basis.
TIER 2: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS | RUNNING BACK, RONALD JONES II | QUARTERBACK, TOM BRADY
For Tier 2, we’re looking at guys who should get weekly consideration from you, but may not make the cut depending on match-ups and other options.
If you draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense in a season-long draft, you may just have to roll with them as plenty of people only carry one defense until they absolutely need another to fill the bye week.
Admittedly, I’m higher on this unit than most, and it’s because of what this defense might be able to do with a more efficient offense helping them out in 2020.
This defense is made to play with a lead, and opposing offenses which find themselves in must-pass situations are going to find out quickly just how hazardous that approach will become.
Sacks, fumbles and interception opportunities will rise significantly if the Tom Brady led offense can at least keep the defense from defending at their own 30-yard line on a consistent basis.
Now, the kicking game is still a huge question mark, so when you roll out this group you’re banking on the defense making up points for potentially missed field goals and extra points.
Some might have this team as more of a Tier 3 group, but I’m looking at this unit every week to see if I’m confident enough to pull the trigger.
Similar consideration goes for Ronald Jones II and Brady. Before the arrival of Leonard Fournette, I probably would’ve put Jones up there with Godwin and Evans. Now, just like the rest of you, I can’t help but wonder what the real and fantasy football impact with be.
Jones certainly won’t be your only running back, and Brady likely isn’t your only quarterback.
If you have runners who clearly own the starting job like Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and even Devin Singletary (Buffalo Bills) then you may lean that way until this situation sorts itself out. If you’re looking at a guy like Kareem Hunt (Cleveland Browns) or Todd Gurley (Atlanta Falcons) who owns the starting job but doesn’t evoke the most confidence these days, I’d roll with Jones.
As for Brady, he always has been a fantasy football frustration. Some weeks, he’ll ball out and win your game for you almost single-handedly. Others, he’ll do barely anything for your fantasy points, and won’t care as long as his real team wins at the end of the day.
The Fantasy Footballers have Brady in their third-tier as QB11, writing,
“Embrace Brady in Tampa Bay or continue with the disdain and hatred of the ex-Patriots QB. Whether you think he is done or not, Brady had the 4th most passing attempts and the 5th most 20+ yard completions in the league. He also posted the lowest TD rate (3.9%) of his career but New England’s weapons pale in comparison to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With Rob Gronkowski along for the ride, Brady has the coach (Bruce Arians) and motivation to excel with the Buccaneers and finish as a QB1.”
Volume is king when you’re making a decision between two players. When the Bucs are facing another high-producing offense - hello, New Orleans Saints - then you know Brady will get plenty of chances to get you points. However, when facing an offense which could fall behind early and stay there - hello, Denver Broncos - then Brady may not get the chances as Jones, Fournette and McCoy combine to control the clock.
TIER 3: TIGHT END, O.J. HOWARD | TIGHT END, ROB GRONKOWSKI | WIDE RECEIVER, SCOTTY MILLER | RUNNING BACK, LEONARD FOURNETTE
I’m calling this our, ‘it could happen’, tier. Could O.J. Howard have a resurgent year and finally take steps towards being a dominant tight end? Sure. Could Rob Gronkowski return to old form with his favorite quarterback and become a fantasy football star again? Why not? Could Scotty Miller become the long-threat receiver Julian Edelman never became? Absolutely. Will they? Maybe not.
This is all projection. Especially with no preseason. In previous tiers you know those guys are going to get chances. Within a certain extent, I suppose we know these three guys will too, we just don’t know what will come of them and how consistent they’ll be.
Let’s start with the tight ends. Eisner has Gronkowski in the fourth-tier in his tight end rankings. He doesn’t even have Howard listed at all. The Footballers have Gronk listed as their TE19, but Howard doesn’t come in until TE29. Not too many two tight end leagues out there these days.
However, if you listen to all the murmurs coming out of Tampa, Howard is tight end number one. It’s a situation we can’t possibly sort out until the team gets on the field, and with this duo, it’s hard to be confident Brady won’t fall into old habits of targeting Gronk. Yet the talent of Howard is undeniable, and we know Brady has been working with his young tight end extensively. Yep.
Miller on the other hand, has had a great connection with Brady all camp long according to reports. His downfield speed is exciting, and the contrast he brings to the field compared to Evans and Godwin adds a layer to the offense no defense will look forward to dealing with.
This is the kind of situation where Miller could get you 20+ points on just two catches. Or, he could get you five points on three targets.
With Fournette, it’s pretty obvious. Is he a straight-up back-up to Jones? Short-yardage guy? 70/30 split? We don’t know. Nobody does. He hasn’t even worn pads for the team yet. His role in Week 1 and Week 4 are likely to be completely different as well, as he gets comfortable with the scheme and playbook.
All of these guys are worth a stash if you have room on your bench. As the relationship on the team develops, see where they stand, and make a decision on their playing status moving forward.
Of course, you can always come back to Bucs Nation, listen in to the Locked On Bucs Podcast, or hit me up on Twitter with any and all of your fantasy football questions! I promise to give you the best advice I can, and it will mostly almost always work, sometimes!