The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. So crazy how they turned it around so quickly! It’s almost like removing Jameis Winston and adding Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette all at once makes a difference! Weird! Anyway, the Buccos are in the Super Bowl, and if you’ve been coming to Football Absurdity over the last month or so, you know what time it is. What should we remember from the 2020 iteration of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when looking forward to our 2021 fantasy football drafts?
What to Remember from the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season
- Antonio Brown didn’t make his first start with the Buccaneers until week nine. At that point, we expected him to answer the question “how many mouths to feed is too many mouths to feed?” What’s wild is that adding Antonio Brown expanded the passing game. Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans all averaged more yards per game with Antonio Brown in the lineup than without Antonio Brown. For Gronk and Godwin, it was negligible (2.6 additional combined yards). But Evans added 32.5 yards per game to his tally with Antonio Brown in tow, going from 46.6 yards per game to 79.1. As for Antonio Brown, he hit his groove in week fifteen. Prior to that point, he averaged 5 catches for 43.4 yards per game. After that point, including the playoffs, he has five touchdowns in five games while averaging 4.6 receptions for 65 yards per contest.
- Speaking of Mike Evans, let’s talk about that weird start to his season. He had six touchdowns in his first five games. He also had games of 104 yards and 122 yards. Just an absolute monstrous beginning to his 2020 campaign. Except… he had two games that he combined for three catches for four yards. That kind of volatility is bad, but you don’t need me to tell you that. With five touchdowns in the first four games, Evans tied 2014 Randall Cobb for the most receiving touchdowns for a wide receiver with fewer than 250 yards in their first four games since the merger. He doesn’t hold that record for high touchdown production across positions, however. Julius Thomas had seven touchdowns across four games with just 226 receiving yards in 2014.
- We all know that Tom Brady’s low point on the season was his 209 yard, zero touchdowns, three-interception game in week nine against New Orleans. It was on primetime, we all saw it! Did you also know that was a dividing line to his season? Before that game, he averaged 274 passing yards, 2.5 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions per game. After that game, he averaged 319 passing yards, 2.9 touchdowns, and 0.7 picks per game in the second half of the season. Given that an aging Tom Brady usually fades down the stretch, strengthening after his lowest point, in early November, is new for Brady.
- Chris Godwin took a step back in 2020. He went from 95.2 yards per game to just 70 yards per contest with Brady under center. Why is that? Well, it’s a simple confluence of factors. First, his targets went down from 8.6 to 7 targets per game (with a corresponding drop from 6.1 receptions to 5.4 receptions). Not as much to go around. Second, his average depth of target went down by a yard, from 11.2 to 10.3. This all seems like small fries but if you take the loss of receptions plus the loss in aDOT alone, that’s a loss of nearly 13 yards per game. Then we get the biggie: yards after the catch. In 2019, Godwin took a catch an extra 6.67 yards on average. In 2020? Just 4.04 yards. A bunch of small changes became big problems for Godwin in 2020.
- Ronald Jones took a big step forward in 2020… or did he? He increased from 1,033 yards and 6 touchdowns to 1,143 yards and 8 touchdowns. But, at the same time, he jumped an extra 17 touches. He was virtually identical in numerous statistics. Rojo had 5.2 yards per touch in 2020 and 5.1 yards per touch in 2019. He evaded 3.2 tackles per game in 2020 and 3.0 in 2019. Rojo’s breakaway runs stayed identical: 8 in 2019, 8 in 2020. His 1.71 yards created per touch is an extra 0.25 yards per touch more than 2019, and can’t account for his increase in fantasy points. The only place where he took a massive step forward on a macro level is going from zero goal-line carries in 2019 to seven in 2020.