NFL free agency never disappoints, and throwing in a surprising trade involving big names has further spiced things up. But no player's eventual destination received more attention than Tom Brady's move. Now that he's landed in Tampa with the Bucs, we asked our team of fantasy experts about their expectations for TB12 in 2020.
Is Tom Brady a top-12 fantasy QB in 2020?
Eric Karabell: Location, location, location. What an excellent landing spot for Brady. I don't care about his advanced age and the lack of comparable players through history. I don't care how he performed last season and what the metrics say about his lack of success throwing deep, either. This situation, this location, changes everything. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin get open. They get downfield. They are monstrous upgrades for Brady. Tampa Bay's offensive strategy will be creative and aggressive. I assume this attracted Brady. I had ranked Jameis Winston as my No. 10 QB, myriad interceptions and all. I'll put Brady there now. He won't throw 30 picks. He might not reach 10. He won't run much, so the likes of Josh Allen and Cam Newton -- wherever he lands -- could prove more valuable, but I see potential for what I projected for Winston -- 4,500-plus passing yards and 30 TDs -- sans the interceptions. I still won't target a QB until late in standard leagues, but Brady, along with Carson Wentz, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, will be among them.
Matthew Berry: QB10 for me. I did a post on my Twitter and Instagram feed about this last night with more detail, but if you read my March 3 post-NFL combine column you know I've been saying Tampa Bay all along was Brady's destination, and I'm thrilled. While Patriots fans will rightly be bummed, fantasy managers should be ecstatic, as the move will breathe new fantasy life into last year's QB16 on a points-per-game basis. Last season, Jameis Winston was QB5 despite 30 interceptions. Brady has 29 picks in his past four years combined. An improved defense and running game (plus a lack of turnovers) will keep the Bucs closer and in fewer shootouts, but Bruce Arians' teams are always among the league leaders in pass attempts and his QBs are always among the league leaders in fantasy. (Remember what he did with 36-year-old Carson Palmer in Arizona?) With big red zone targets like Mike Evans and O.J. Howard, and a guy who can win one-on-one matchups out of the slot in Chris Godwin, Brady will be throwing a ton to one of the best (if not the best) corps of receiving weapons he's ever had. I understand the concern about age and arm strength, but Arians will adjust to Brady's strengths and if we've learned anything the past 20 years, when you bet against Tom Brady, you lose. I'm in on Brady as a QB1 this year.
Mike Clay: QB10. I did a lengthier write-up on Brady's fantasy value in Tampa Bay, so I won't go too into the weeds here, but there are plenty of reasons to believe the 43-year-old (by the season opener) can jump back into the QB1 mix. Sure, he's generally been a conservative passer in recent seasons, but a big part of that was a shaky supporting cast. As recently as 2017, Brady ranked in the 69th percentile in average depth of throw and was third in the league with 32 touchdowns. He has that upside with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans at his disposal.
Al Zeidenfeld: Father Time remains undefeated, but he attacks wide receivers and running backs with much more vigor than he does quarterbacks. Brady's best receiver in 2019 was a 33-year-old Julian Edelman and Brady still finished the season with more than 4,000 yards passing and 24 touchdowns, good enough for the QB12 spot overall in ESPN leagues. His skills may be tapering off, but they're not dropping off a cliff, and the talented group of skill players -- led by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin -- as well as Bruce Arians' offensive scheme offer a massive improvement from what he had in New England last season. He's a high-floor pick but lacks the ceiling on a week-to-week or season-long basis of some of the other, more athletic options. I currently have him as my QB11, but that could change.
Field Yates: Yes. It's March, so there are a ton of moving parts that could alter any number of quarterbacks' outlooks for the season, but Brady is now working with an elite set of receivers, formidable tight end group, steady offensive line and playing for an aggressively minded head coach. Those factors are enough for me to envision a world in which Brady posts another 4,500-plus-yard passing season with close to 30 touchdowns. While we've seen the ascending value of rushing ability as it pertains to quarterbacks in fantasy, Brady should have a chance to be prolific enough from the pocket to hover around the top 12 quarterback options.
Matt Bowen: With wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, the targets are in place for Brady to produce 4,000-plus yards passing with a touchdown count around the 30 mark. That would put him in the lower-tier QB1 range. And I strongly believe that we will see Bruce Arians adapt or adjust his system to fit the strengths of Brady. That means more quick-game passing, play-action, running back screens and schemed-up vertical throws to account for Brady's declining arm strength at this stage of his career. Plus, the Bucs are still in a position to add more weapons to mix. Whether through the draft or in the second wave of free agency, landing a running back with pass-catching traits, along with the addition of an inside WR3 who brings high-end, change-of-direction skills to the route tree, Tampa can continue to set the table for Brady with scheme-specific players who fit his game.
Mike Triplett: Of course I think it's possible that Brady can finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. He finished 12th in ESPN scoring last year, and now he's joining Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Bruce Arians' vertical passing attack that just led the NFL with 302.8 passing yards per game in 2019. Despite the obvious signs of decline in Brady's performance, I'll be surprised if he doesn't improve on both his 4,057 passing yards and 24 TD passes, with a greater opportunity for some big-splash games throughout the season. I won't go out of my way to draft him, but I'll probably rank him around that 10-12 range. And because I like to wait on quarterbacks, I'd be OK winding up with him as my starter. Pretty similar to how I treated him over the past few years in New England.
Jim McCormick: With a gifted, young burner in John Brown, a dynamic rookie playmaker from the backfield in David Johnson, and All-Pro stalwart Larry Fitzgerald, 36-year-old Carson Palmer posted 4,671 yards with 35 touchdowns and 11 picks for Bruce Arians' Arizona Cardinals in 2015. Palmer finished that career-best campaign ninth in fantasy points per game (19.01) in ESPN standard leagues -- a third of a point ahead of 12th-place finisher Andrew Luck (18.69). Palmer's 2015 output is a reasonable approximation of Brady's fantasy ceiling for 2020 given Arians' daring vertical playbook and the Bucs' tandem of elite receivers. But banking on an optimal outcome for a 43-year-old signal-caller in a new system isn't an ideal investment strategy. Brady can post some big games along the way, but I think it's more reasonable to consider him as a borderline QB1, which he's been the past few seasons.
Tristan H. Cockcroft: I think any necessary excitement surrounding Brady's arrival in Tampa Bay should center upon his receivers rather than himself. They'll all get a boost, primarily because he represents a much less erratic passer than the man he replaced, Jameis Winston. Brady's own metrics, though, have the look of a 43-year-old in decline: His average depth of target reached a career low in 2019 and he's finished 12th or worse in fantasy points at his position in each of the past two seasons (despite playing full schedules in each). Cumulatively, I could see him being the 12th-best quarterback in fantasy, but I don't think the week-over-week path toward doing so will be smooth enough to justify the pick. You need week-winners, not "pretty good" consistency kings, at this critical spot. I can easily find 15 quarterbacks I'd prefer, though with the offseason so fluid, he might reside right there: 15th.