We’re less than a week away from the greatest quarterback of all time hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent. Where should we, the rabid fantasy football community, root for Tom Brady to suit up next season? This piece will examine the best fantasy landing spots for Brady.
Brady had his worst season since 2013, throwing for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns with a QB rating of 88. But similar to that 2013 Patriots squad, the 2019 unit lacked reliable offensive weapons outside of Julian Edelman. Brady’s best football is behind him, but he wouldn’t be a fantasy afterthought if he lands in the right spot.
If Brady returns to New England, it’s fair to expect more of the same in 2020. Rob Gronkowski isn’t walking through that door. The eye-watering WR trio of Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Antonio Brown lasted all of one week. Unless something happened in free agency, like Amari Cooper landing in NE, the Pats aren’t Brady’s best bet for a big fantasy season.
So where are the best fantasy landing spots for Brady in 2020? Let’s run through the top 3 teams.
Tom Brady’s No. 3 fantasy landing spot: Tennessee Titans
How it could be the best: Pairing Brady with an emerging superstar at WR and a young, athletic TE behind one of the league’s best offensive lines is a recipe for success.
A.J. Brown, the obvious 1.01 pick if we redid 2019 rookie drafts today, would be Brady’s top target from the start. As RotoViz’s Blair Andrews explained a couple of months ago when reviewing Expected Points from 2019, Brown was one of the best rookie WRs in the last 20 years:
“The 2019 rookie WR class is filled with players who outperformed their opportunity, but no one was better than A.J. Brown. In fact, since 2000, only one rookie has been more efficient through 16 weeks: Odell Beckham.”
At the tight end position we have Jonnu Smith, a RotoViz favorite for quite some time. With Delanie Walker sidelined for much of 2019 — and released this offseason — Smith saw more opportunity than ever before. He was not consistent, but per the NFL Stat Explorer, Smith posted fantasy TE1 numbers in four of his last nine games. During the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16), Smith was the TE7. Smith would make for a great seam target for Brady.
Then there’s Corey Davis. The former top-five NFL Draft pick has drawn dead through three seasons, maxing out at 65 receptions for 891 yards and four scores in 2018. He didn’t break out when the Titans offense went ballistic with Ryan Tannehill under center, so things look grim for Davis overall. Yet he does occasionally flash, and he is still a WR2 upgrade over Brady’s current options.
The wild card here is what the Titans do with Derrick Henry. If they re-sign him, the offense is sure to flow through Henry and would take away at least a half-dozen TD opportunities from Brady and the passing attack, if not more.
Tom Brady’s No. 2 fantasy landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How it could be the best: Brady throwing to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and co. while completely ignoring the running game.
Evans and Godwin are the best WR tandem in the NFL. Throw in the fact this offense rarely runs the ball and is coached by Bruce Arians, and it’s easy to see why this would be the best-case scenario for Brady, from a fantasy perspective. And before you say old-man Brady’s arm would fall off if he threw it as much as Winston: Brady threw the ball 613 times last season, fourth in the NFL behind Jameis Winston (626), Jared Goff (626), and Matt Ryan (616).
Evans (24%) and Godwin (22%) accounted for nearly 50% of all of Tampa Bay’s targets last season, while the rest were vacuumed up by the likes of deep threat Breshad Perriman (13%) and TEs O.J. Howard (10%) and Cameron Brate (9%). It would be fun to see Brady throw to these weapons, and we have only to look at Winston’s recent fantasy success to see why it would be good from a fantasy perspective as well.
Winston was the fantasy QB4 last season while infamously joining the 30-30 club.1 He also quietly threw for over 5,100 yards. In 2018, Winston played QB duck-duck-go with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he was a fantasy QB1 in five of his last 10 games that season. Winston was also a fantasy QB1 in seven of his last 11 games during the 2017 season.
Long story short: Winston has had several years of success as a fantasy QB in Tampa, and the situation (e.g. the surrounding talent) has never been better than it is leading into 2020.
Brady may not throw for 5,100 yards, but a fantasy QB1 season would be a very, very real possibility if the GOAT lands in Tampa. This would be one of the best fantasy landing spots for Brady in 2020.
Tom Brady’s No. 1 fantasy landing spot: Los Angeles Chargers
How it could be the best: Keenan Allen is one of the best route runners in the NFL, Mike Williams emerged as one of the better deep threats in the league, Hunter Henry is among the top TEs, and Austin Ekeler is arguably the most elite pass-catching RB around.
Allen would be a target vacuum with Brady under center. Allen ranked tied for fifth among WRs last season with 150 targets. Brady’s go-to guy in NE, Julian Edelman, had 154 targets. Both Edelman and Allen had a 26% team target market share. The transition from Edelman to Allen would be fantastic for Brady, especially considering Allen is six years younger, healthier, and all-around better than Edelman.
Henry is without a doubt one of the best young TEs in the NFL. Per the RotoViz Team Splits App, when Henry was on the field last season, the Chargers scored nearly four more points per game and 0.42 additional points per drive. Henry was a fantasy TE1 in seven of his final 11 games last season.
Williams morphed into one of the league’s premiere deep treats in 2019, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards despite catching just 49 passes. He was just the second player since 1989 to accomplish this.2. The breakout candidate ranked eighth in the NFL in air yards and first in air yards per target.3
And let’s not forget about Ekeler, who I contend is one of the best RBs in the NFL — period. Ekeler is without question a top-three receiving back in the NFL, evidenced by his 92 receptions, 993 receiving yards, and eight receiving TDs from 2019. Brady loves throwing to players like Ekeler out of the backfield.
Austin Ekeler getting his and I’m levitating. He’s one of the 5 best RBs in the NFL.
— Tyler Loechner (@LoechnerNFL) March 7, 2020