NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Rob Gronkowski's return creates questions for Chris Godwin, Mike Evans
The Buccaneers are trading for Rob Gronkowski, who is coming out of retirement. What does it mean for the rest of the Buccaneers offense?
With the limited number of training opportunities teams will like be dealing with this offseason, there should be no doubt that developed chemistry will matter. And there are few active combinations with more chemistry than Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. According to ESPN.com, pending Gronkowski's physical, they're about to be active together once more,
The Buccaneers are dealing for one of Brady's oldest friends, which has to be awesome for Buccaneers fans and Brady. For the Fantasy value of their other pass catchers, it could be a bit of a problem.
For starters, it's hard to imagine O.J. Howard in Tampa Bay when the season eventually gets underway. He did not mesh well with Bruce Arians and has never lived up to his talent level with the Buccaneers. He's still in the projections below, but only until they find a team that's willing to give them something of value for him. Howard is currently projected for 55 targets, but if he gets dealt those will just get shifted to Cameron Brate.
The bigger loss could be felt by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. They absolutely dominated Tampa Bay's targets before they got hurt in 2019, accounting for nearly 47% of the team's targets on a per-game basis. Considering that a minimum of 20% of the team's targets will likely go to running backs, it's hard to see how they maintain that share if Gronkowski assumes his traditional role. Would he really come out of retirement to be a decoy?
My initial forecast assigns 43% of the team's targets to Godwin and Evans, which drops Godwin to No. 5 in my wide receiver rankings and drops Evans outside of my top 12. I expect Godwin to be Brady's preferred target due to the types of routes he and Evans have historically run, so Godwin gets a slightly higher target share.
As for Gronkowski, it's impossible to predict how he might look after a year away from the game, but I've tried anyway. I gave him a 14% target share at around 9.1 yards per target. These are both below his career averages, but given that he will be 31 when the season starts, didn't play in 2019, and wasn't quite his typical dominant self when we last saw him in 2018, it seems fair. That projection makes him a borderline top-10 tight end. There's definitely upside from there, but it would also represent his second best season total since 2015.
We still don't know what, if anything, the Buccaneers are going to do with their running back group, but this is quickly turning into a dream team offensively in Tampa Bay. That could propel Tom Brady to a top-five finish at quarterback, or it could lead to disappointing results for someone who gets drafted as a Fantasy star and sees a smaller-than-expected role.
As much as the Bucs have done so far, they may not be done yet. Until then, here are my projections for the Buccaneers as a of April 21:
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