Tampa Bay is in its Post-Brady Era. After Tom Brady’s retirement announcement, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are officially moving forward with either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask as their 2023 starting quarterback. For the first time in years, not only should a different NFC South team win the division, but the Buccaneers could finish in last place. We may even be discussing this team as a candidate to draft inside the top 10 next year. All negativity aside, there is still plenty of talent on this roster to sustain start-worthy fantasy football production this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fantasy Football Preview
Key Subtractions and Additions
Subtractions: Tom Brady (QB), Leonard Fournette (RB), Keanu Neal (S), Sean Murphy-Bunting (CB), Cameron Brate (TE)
Additions: Baker Mayfield (QB), Chase Edmonds (RB), Calijah Kancey (rookie DT), Cody Mauch (rookie OT)
After three seasons with Tom Brady under center, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will turn elsewhere at the quarterback position. Baker Mayfield is set to battle Kyle Trask for the starting job. Mayfield is in Tampa on a one-year, $4 million deal with $4.5 million of incentives available. Meanwhile, 2021 second-round pick, Trask, is entering his third season with the Bucs.
With Brady at quarterback, the Buccaneers never ranked lower than seventh in pass attempts per game. In fact, they have two back-to-back seasons leading the league in this category. To take it one step further, Brady’s 733 pass attempts in 2022 are an all-time single-season record. Mayfield’s career-high attempts in a single season is 534 with the 2019 Cleveland Browns. He has 753 combined attempts for three different teams (CLE, CAR, LAR) over the last two collective seasons.
Baker Mayfield is likely the starter after signing a “prove it” deal with the Buccaneers in free agency. Unfortunately, Baker has just 12 career games with more than 20.0 fantasy points. He has just one such game of 20.0 or more fantasy points in the last two seasons.
The receiving corps in Tampa is the best of Mayfield’s career, but that’s likely not enough to propel him into fantasy relevancy. Since he adds nothing with his legs, the only way Baker comes close to QB1 production is with the same passing volume that Brady had. This offense will likely run fewer plays and with a more balanced approach of establishing the run in 2023.
Obviously, with Brady throwing the most passes ever in a season, it shouldn’t shock anyone the Buccaneers had the least rush attempts per game (22.1) as a result. Now that Brady is out of the picture, it’s more likely than not that this team hands off the ball more this season. This is just one reason why Rachaad White is one of the biggest winners of the NFL off-season.
The biggest reason White is a big winner is the departure of Leonard Fournette. His 189 carries led Tampa Bay’s backfield accounting for 48% of the team’s rushing attempts. Through free agency and the draft, only Chase Edmonds is joining the rotation. That leaves Rachaad White in an excellent position to see more touches this season.
There are also 57.8% of last season’s running back targets available, as well. White already saw his fair of work in the passing game, as well. He is one of just 11 rookie running backs since 2010, drafted in the first three rounds, to record 50 or more receptions as a rookie.
The 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably be playing from behind more than ahead this season. They certainly won’t be running away with wins as often as they did with Tom Brady. White should see plenty of volume on the ground and through the air to produce solid RB2 numbers in fantasy.
Rachaad White should be an ideal target for those interested in a “Zero RB” strategy this fantasy football season. That is to say, after drafting some combination of stud wide receivers, a top quarterback, and/or Travis Kelce, selecting White as your top running back provides a safe floor with a potentially high ceiling, especially with his receiving upside.
Mike Evans will look to record his 10th-straight season of 1,000 or more yards in 2023. For those quick to say it can’t happen with Baker Mayfield, remember that before Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, it was Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jameis Winston throwing Evans the ball.
A big reason Evans continues to have success is that he is a big receiver. His 6’5″ 230-pound frame is a mismatch for even the best of cornerbacks. As a result, Mike Evans remains a reliable target in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense.
Despite the success, the 2022 season is one of the more frustrating performances from Mike Evans. If you made it to the fantasy finals with Evans, you likely won from his 48.7 PPR points. That score, though, accounts for 21.6% of his total points last year. That scored boosted him from WR31 on a points-per-game basis all the way up to WR17.
Chris Godwin is the better option between him and Evans in 2023. He is two years removed from an ACL tear and on record as saying he will “do a little bit of everything” in the 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. Godwin has led Tampa Bay in targets in three of five applicable non-rookie seasons, including playoffs. His 146 last season are a career-high.
Both Evans and Godwin should see a justifiable downgrade in their 2023 ADP given the decrease in passing volume from Baker to Brady. Still, they’ve both finished inside the top-22 receivers in points per game in each of the last four seasons, as high as WR2 and WR5 in 2019 with Jameis Winston at quarterback.
Godwin should see the most targets and therefore lead the team in receptions, as well. He should produce low-end WR2 numbers on volume alone. Evans, on the other hand, is most likely Baker’s deep option. He could rack up yards and touchdowns in boom-or-bust fashion. On talent alone, Evans should remain in the WR3 conversation. If Baker Mayfield plays above expectations, both of these receivers will come at a bargain. Playing the odds, though, most rankings will remain conservative with the potential that this season in Tampa Bay is an absolute catastrophe.
Cade Otton is the lone Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end worth considering for the 2023 fantasy football season. Otton is a 2022 fourth-round pick with a lack of collegiate production prior to entering the NFL. In 31 games over four seasons, Otton has a combined 91/1,026/9 stat line. That fits the mold of a typical 3/33/0 stat line plug-and-play fantasy managers are all too familiar with each week from streaming options.
As a rookie, Otton did record four or more receptions in six of a possible 15 games including playoffs. However, he logged 50 or more yards just in three of those 15 games with two total touchdowns.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is going to look a lot different without Tom Brady at quarterback. It’s possible Baker Mayfield develops a rapport with Cade Otton. I’m just not willing to bet on that with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rachaad White likely to draw far more targets ahead of him. For that reason, Otton is a matchup-based streaming option that I’m only considering in the most desperate of situations.
A big reason Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first place was their championship-caliber defense. In 2020 and 2021, the Bucs allowed the seventh-least points per game in each season. With seven units averaging less than 20.0 points per game allowed in 2022, Tampa fell to 15th in the league with 21.6 points allowed.
Like most Super Bowl winning teams, it’s hard to pay and retain elite options on both sides of the ball. The Buccaneers are no different and are beginning to get younger, especially on defense. As they do, the rest of the NFC South is starting to catch up to them. That provides fewer opportunities for big fantasy performances from Tampa’s defense than in years passed.
While finishing 19th in fantasy points per game, the Buccaneers’ defense was still tied for the seventh-most sacks in the league. They also used their first-round draft pick on a strong pass rusher in Calijah Kancey. There will be opportunities to start this unit during the 2023 fantasy season.