Tom Brady is back in Tampa, and it certainly cleans up the Buccaneers’ fantasy outlook for the 2022 season. The wide receiver tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin has been automatic in the two seasons with Brady under center and Bruce Arians running the offense. Evans paced the duo as WR11 (2020) and WR9 (2021), while Godwin finished as WR31 (2020) and WR16 (2021) in injury-riddled seasons.
This pairing will continue their tour de force in the NFC South, but a wild card has been thrown into the mix as Tampa Bay signed former Atlanta Falcon, Russell Gage, to a 3-year, $30 million contract on Wednesday.
By no means is Gage a blockbuster addition to the Tampa offense. He, however, is a reliable slot receiver with quick feet and downfield abilities, outlined by his 11.67 YPC in 2021.
ANTONIO BROWN 2.0?
Now, the comparison to Gage immediately will be Antonio Brown, who gave Brady a change-of-pace receiver to the aforementioned Evans and Godwin to the tune of 42 receptions, 545 yards, and four scores in just seven games last season.
Gage will look to fill Brown’s shoes as Tampa’s best option vs man coverage. In 2021, Gage had a 35% target per route run (TPRR) against man coverage per PFF, higher than AB’s at 33%. The former Falcon also had an elite 2.91 YPRR against man, despite the fact that he only spent 50% of his time in the slot. Expect that number to increase a bit in 2022 with Evans split out-wide more often than not.
CHRIS GODWIN’S ABSENCE AND 2022 OUTLOOK
In Tampa’s Week 15 loss to New Orleans, Chris Godwin went down with a torn ACL. At the start of free agency, it looks like he will miss the first few weeks of the season at the bare minimum. The addition of Gage gives Brady and Co. a solid option to fill the WR2 shoes in Godwin’s place.
From Week 11 on, Gage saw 5-plus targets in each game, while adding 12 or more in three of those matchups. He has compiled back-to-back seasons of over 770 yards, on no less than 94 targets per season. Expect this type of production to be the baseline for the first half of the 2022 season in Godwin’s absence, with a real opportunity to flourish into a top 30 fantasy receiver.
Keep an eye on The Wolf’s 2022 Fantasy Rankings for his next update. Gage drips in fantasy value and has a possible very cheap price tag in dynasty formats. Falcons fans, look away.