Kickoff week for the 2020 NFL has finally arrived. With fantasy football being so popular and long anticipated, here is my analysis of who you should start and sit if you have Tampa Bay Buccaneers players for week one.
Top Tier: Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski
There’s really no debating the value of quarterback Tom Brady, wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. For 20 seasons, Brady has regularly kept the New England Patriots competitive. With no shortage of weapons, he’ll likely produce similar numbers even if it’s a slight dip in production due to him in a new team. Under no circumstances do you sit him. Evans and Godwin are arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the league, combining for 2,490 yards with Jameis Winston.
Let’s compare the 2019 Evans and Godwin combo to the 2007 New England Patriots duo of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. They combined for 2,668 yards, only a difference of 178 yards. Sure, we’re now talking about a 43-year old Brady in 2020 to his 30-year old self. The 2020 Brady is reunited with the far more accomplished tight end in Gronkowski. Gronkowski alone has far more under his belt than Donte Stallworth ever did as a Patriot. When it comes from help from the backfield, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy give Brady far more help than he ever did since Corey Dillion. They also more than make up the receiving threat of the Pats’ James White. What was old will be new again.
Second Tier: Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, O.J. Howard
When it comes to fantasy value, there are just no slam dunk choices as Ronald Jones II isn’t a clear RB1. While it’s reassuring hearing head coach Bruce Arians giving him a bode of confidence as a starter, we still don’t know if he can shoulder being the workhorse with Brady under center. What we do know is that at some point, Fournette will eat into his production. The three-headed monster is great for Bucs fans, but a nightmare for fantasy owners. If you have to play a Bucs running back, Jones makes an acceptable RB2 or flex pick. In short-yardage situations, if Brady doesn’t opt to pass, Fournette likely gets critical first downs and touchdowns. Until Fournette gets more acclimated to the offense, there are better flex options this week.
While most picked up Gronkowski on their team, look for the athletic O.J. Howard to siphon some potential scores in the red zone. As maligned as the former first-round pick was, he has a chance to break out like never before with the new quarterback. We’ve all seen what Brady can do when he has two tight ends who can stretch the field. In 2011, the position accounted for 2,237 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns for the Patriots.
Sit ‘em: Scotty Miller, LeSean McCoy, Cameron Brate, Buccaneers Defense
My three dark horse picks this season are slot receiver Scotty Miller, McCoy, and tight end Cameron Brate. If McCoy isn’t regulated to return duty, then he’s situational at third down at best. With the more accurate Brady throwing, Miller may not get the attention of his more seasoned brethren from defenses. I would argue he could break out more so than Bresad Perriman last year. If you have any of the three, look how they factor into the offense for the first few weeks before deciding they should warm the bench. They could be at least worth a bye week pickup if they’re consistent enough.
Drew Brees and the Saints are simply too dangerous a threat to play the Buccaneers defense. We would be lucky if this game ends in anything but a shootout. If you’re going to be banking on having low-scoring sloppy play due to lack of the preseason, it would likely happen more from the Buccaneers side than the more polished Saints. Good luck with your matchups and welcome back football!