2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds, Schedule, & Fantasy Football Team Preview
It’s been a wild offseason for the Bucs, first losing Tom Brady to retirement only to watch him unretire. Then, Rob Gronkowski threw a curveball of his own by announcing his retirement. The Bucs also saw head coach Bruce Arians retire, although they promoted defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as their new coach so it’s likely we don’t see too much change from a philosophy standpoint. If you want more drama, there are reports that Leonard Fournette reported to camp at 260 pounds, an increase of 32 pounds from last season, after receiving a three-year contract this extension. That doesn’t bode well for him, especially with the Bucs using a third-round pick on Rachaad White in this year’s NFL Draft. Still, as long as Tom Brady remains under center this Bucs team will be a force to be reckoned with.
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2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule, Lines, and Best Bets
Projected Odds, derived & modified from data originally published by Sean Koerner here.
Win Total and Total Games Favored:
11.5 (100) / 17 Games Favored ( 6 Big Favorites / 0 Big Dogs)
The Bucs are coming off a 13-4 season in 2021 and our projections still have them with a winning record at 11.5 wins. It makes sense the Bucs are projected for fewer wins this season than last year. Tom Brady is now 44 years old. Rob Gronkowski has retired. Chris Godwin is still recovering from his torn ACL from Week 15 of last season and is likely to start the year on the PUP list, which means the earliest he’d be able to return is Week 5. And as mentioned above, the weight gain from Leonard Fournette could be an issue if this impacts his performance. Still, this remains one of the weakest divisions in the league and as long as Tom Brady is healthy, they should remain heavy favorites to win this division.
Best Bet: Over 11.5 Wins // +100 on BetMGM
I’ll admit this one was tough to decide on because there are so many variables to consider here. I do have some concerns about this passing game with Gronk gone and Godwin likely to miss a decent portion of this season. Still, the Bucs brought in Russell Gage this offseason on a three-year, $30 million dollar contract so he has a clear path for a career year in this offense. Mike Evans and Russell Gage have the potential to form a formidable duo. The Bucs also signed undrafted rookies Jerreth Sterns and Deven Thompkins, and there is chatter out of camp that Tyler Johnson and Breshad Perriman aren’t locks to make the team if Sterns and/or Thompkins impress this preseason. Sterns led the nation in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns at Western Kentucky, while Thompkins grabbed 10 receiving touchdowns in his senior year at Utah State.
The Bucs also addressed their tight end needs by drafting Cade Otton in the 4th round of this year’s draft, who did battle injuries in college but amassed nine total receiving touchdowns during his four-year career at Washington. The team also signed Kyle Rudolph to a one-year contract to help fill the void. Rudolph is 33 years old and was once a viable fantasy option at tight end, but this is likely Otton’s job long-term. The Bucs still have Cameron Brate as well so it seems that some kind of timeshare among the trio is the most likely scenario to try and cover the Gronk role. Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud did go on record here he expects Rudolph “figures to inherit the bulk of Gronkowski’s workload.” It does feel like a stretch but Stroud is one of the better beat writers so for now, I’d consider Rudolph the TE1 on this team until further notice.
Hitting the over means the Bucs go at least 12-5 or better, and this is definitely feasible with the division rivals Panthers, Falcons and Saints all carrying question marks themselves.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Props
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Favorite Prop: Mike Evans Over 10.5 Touchdown Receptions
This feels like a lofty total to hit as there were only five receivers who hit this over last season. One of them was Mike Evans with 14 (the others were Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase, DK Metcalf and Davante Adams). In fact Evans has now reached 13 and 14 receiving touchdowns over his last two seasons, and starts the season without having to face competition from Rob Gronkowski or Chris Godwin (assuming he’s placed on the PUP list) in the end zone. This is a huge deal, as Gronk totaled six receiving touchdowns and 11 red zone targets in 2021, while Godwin totaled five receiving touchdowns and a ridiculous 25 red zone targets. While Godwin likely returns at some point this season, it will be no earlier than Week 5 if he’s placed on the PUP list and it wouldn’t shock me if we see him return to a full-time role closer to the back half of the season as the Bucs have no incentive to rush him at the expense of his long-term health given they just resigned him to a three-year extension. I’m expecting Evans to be the clear red zone target now for Brady, which is why I like the Over 10.5 touchdown reception prop.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fantasy Football Projections
Team Rankings and Ratings
Offense Ranks: Rank 2/ Strong Rush / Elite Pass/ Rank 2 Points For)
Defense Ranks: Rank 1/ Elite Rush / Elite pass / Rank 31 Points Allowed)
Opponent Strength – Rushing: 7 difficult vs. rush. 4 soft vs. rush.
Opponent Strength – Passing: 7 difficult vs. pass. 7 soft vs. pass.
The Bucs were elite on both ends of the field last season. Defensively, they did lose Ndamukong Suh but considering he is 35-years old, perhaps it’s not a huge loss. To help fill in for his absence, the Bucs signed Akiem Hicks to a one-year contract. Hicks is a bit younger than Suh at 32-years old but has also dealt with injuries of his own recently, so it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank.
While Bruce Arians is gone, the good news is defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is now the head coach so an emphasis on defense should continue. The team used their second-round pick on DE Logan Hall, which is why the team felt fine letting Suh walk. Hall was selected as first-team All-ACC and has a path to making an impact in his rookie season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Top Fantasy Football Plays & Picks
Noteworthy Depth Chart
QB: Tom Brady – Underdog Rank: 74 (ADP 81 / 9.46% ADP Gap)
RB: Leonard Fournette – Underdog Rank: 18 (ADP 21 / 16.67% ADP Gap)
RB: Rachaad White – Underdog Rank: 192 (ADP 129 / -32.81% ADP Gap)
WR: Mike Evans – Underdog Rank: 13 (ADP 16 / 23.08% ADP Gap)
WR: Chris Godwin – Underdog Rank: 62 (ADP 63 / 1.61% ADP Gap)
WR: Russell Gage – Underdog Rank: 98 (ADP 71 – -27.55% ADP Gap)
TE: Cameron Brate – Underdog Rank: 170 (ADP 178 / 4.71% ADP Gap)
Let’s spend some time talking about the Bucs’ running back situation. We’ve already touched on Fournette’s weight gain, but that’s important considering the Bucs lost Ronald Jones this offseason to the Chiefs. Jones was a somewhat polarizing player in Tampa Bay but he did total 17 rushing touchdowns between 2019-2021 for the Bucs and had four 100+ yard rushing games back in 2020. The Bucs still have Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield for depth, but it’s likely rookie Rachaad White we need to keep our eyes on given there are already rumors Bernard might get released this preseason. White was the first Arizona State player to lead the team in both rushing and receiving yards since 1949, where he finished with 1,000 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, as well as 456 receiving yards in his senior year. It would not shock me at all if White is an early platoon-mate with Fournette to keep him fresh.
I raved above about the Over prop for Mike Evans but there’s a real chance Russell Gage has a career year and smashes his props, especially if Chris Godwin doesn’t return to form this season. Gage is coming off back-to-back seasons of four receiving touchdowns and has yet to reach a season with 800 receiving yards, but it’s fair to say there’s massive upside here under a Tom Brady offense as opposed to Matt Ryan. Gage is especially appealing in Best Ball formats where this offense has shown the ability to support two receivers in a given week and it wouldn’t be surprising if Gage had an occasional spike week if defenses focus all their attention on Mike Evans.
The Bucs did sign Julio Jones to a one-year contract, but he’s 33 years old and has played a combined 19 games over the last two seasons. If there’s anywhere he can be revived into a useful fantasy option, Tampa Bay is the place. Jones’ role as a deep threat option used in a WR3 role until Godwin is completely healthy makes plenty of sense, and that should allow him to stay healthier over the course of a season.
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