Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2022 Fantasy Football Sleeper, Breakout & Bust

Tom Brady Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers thought they would be without Tom Brady’s services, as the long-time quarterback retired for about a month. He then returned, so Bruce Arians fulfilled his part of the blood pact and retired from coaching, instead. Despite getting their quarterback to return for one last ride, the Bucs still have a lot of question marks around their team. Rob Gronkowski retired, the backfield is narrowed down to essentially Leonard Fournette and rookie Rachaad White, Antonio Brown is now Russell Gage, and Chris Godwin’s status for week one is up in the air after tearing his ACL in late December. There’s a lot of uncertainty for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, but who should we be narrowing in on as 2022 fantasy football sleepers, breakouts, and busts on the Buccaneers?

Sleeper: Rachaad White, Running Back (RB57, 190 OVR)

While it will be hard for White to free himself from Leonard Fournette’s shadow (Fournette had two-thirds of the Buccaneers’ RB carries and targets last season), the Buccaneers took the rookie toward the end of round three out of Arizona State, and hope to have a big role for him right out of the gate. As of right now, it’s White, Fournette, and Giovani Bernard as the pertinent parts of the Buccaneers’ backfield. White is a good pass catcher and a decent enough runner, with the build to match a bell-cow back (6’0” 214 pounds). He will be a much better complement to Leonard Fournette than either Ronald Jones or Ke’Shawn Vaughn and would do a bit to lessen that 67% usage the Buccaneers gave Fournette last year.

White should get about 150 carries and 30 or so targets. He won’t have every week appeal, but he interests me in the J.D. McKissic, (short side of the platoon) role. You don’t have to draft him, but he makes for an interesting pick up off the waiver wire if you have a spot to use for speculating during the season.

Breakout: Russell Gage, Wide Receiver (WR45, 112 OVR)

Picture Russell Gage in your head. How many yards does he get? I promise you, it’s more than you thought. Over the last two seasons, Gage averages 4.6 catches for 52 yards per game, or 882 yards, 78 catch pace. This is a nice guy to have in your back pocket if you’re the Buccaneers because Tom Brady should be able to get a lot more production out of Gage, especially when you consider Chris Godwin’s questionable availability and ability to adequately play the position early on, as well as the Buccaneers losing Antonio Brown… I wanted to say during the offseason but halfway through the Jets game down the stretch last year.

Gage will get the Brady Bump™ this year in an offense that’s built to support three wide receivers; Godwin had 127 targets, Mike Evans had 107, and Antonio Brown paced out for 162 targets over the course of the year, before he lost his mind (and shirt) against the Jets. Gage is a good football player, something that we want on our fantasy football teams, and he has an outside chance at topping 1,000 yards, something we definitely want on our football team. He’s the cheapest way to get a piece of this passing game, so it is worth your while to get him onto your roster.

Bust: Chris Godwin, Wide Receiver (WR18, 48 OVR)

I hate to kick the man while he’s down, but this has everything to do with the injury and the situation and nothing to do with the player. I want to make that clear; Chris Godwin is insanely talented, and this is nothing against him, it has more to do with the fantasy football community refusing to acknowledge the downside until it kicks them in the face, like taunting a horse. Godwin finished 2021 with 128 targets, 98 receptions, 1,103 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns. All of that is really great, and he finished as the WR7 in PPR points per game. Probably, again, because he’s really good at football. But, given the 6-9 month recovery timeline, I’m itchy on tapping into Chris Godwin for my WR2 to start the year. The last we really heard about Chris Godwin, Todd Bowles was saying that he was “better than where he was but not where he needs to be, we don’t put a timetable on it.” Not putting a timetable on a recovery six months after the fact, when he should be in the recovery window is… concerning.

Long story short, I learned my lesson from Michael Thomas last season. He was supposed to miss a couple of weeks, which became a month, which became a couple of months, which became “see ya in 2022.” Football is a brutal sport, with teams losing key players weekly. Because of this, injuries are the bane of fantasy football managers. I don’t want to start in a hole with Chris Godwin just because he was good before his ACL tear; I can’t sit around and miss out on the next Elijah Mitchell because I was hoping Godwin would come back and be in his prior form. I’m out on sheer cautiousness alone.

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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