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Fantasy Football: Could Tom Brady be even better in his second year in Tampa Bay?

Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.

Looking at Tom Brady’s career stats is almost an out of body experience at this point. The man’s worst season in terms of wins and losses came in 2002 with the 9-7 New England Patriots, but Brady still finished the season with a league-high 28 passing touchdowns. Otherwise it’s been one double-digit win campaign after another, with plenty of gaudy statistical achievements and seven Super Bowls championships along the way.

Somehow the 2020 version of Brady was one of the best we’ve seen yet. Overall, the 40 passing touchdowns were his second-highest mark ever behind only the memorable 50-score 2007 season, and his 6.9% big-time throw rate trails only 2016’s 7.2% mark for his highest rate ever.

Father time is undefeated, but the artist known as TB12 sure is putting up one helluva fight. What follows is a breakdown on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing game and what we should expect from Brady as a fantasy asset in 2021.

It’s scary how good Brady was in 2020

You’ll have a hard time finding any stats from last season that paint Brady as anything other than what the kids might call an elite quarterback.

  • PFF passing grade: 91.9 (No. 2 among 44 QBs with at least 100 dropbacks in 2020)
  • QB rating: 102.2 (No. 10)
  • Big-time throw rate: 6.6% (No. 8)
  • Turnover-worthy play rate: 1.6% (No. 1)
  • Yards per attempt: 7.6 (tied for No. 14)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 75.1% (No. 27)

Yes, the latter stat in fact does place Brady on the below-average side of things. Also yes, it was more so because he tied with Drew Lock for the league’s highest average target depth at 9.7 yards. A brief dry spell during the middle of the season on deep balls led some to question whether or not Brady was the latest veteran quarterback to have his arm turn into a noodle; the film constantly told us otherwise…

It’s also worth noting just how impressive Brady’s lack of turnovers were inside of coach Bruce Arians’ notoriously complicated system. Overall, each of Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer and Jameis Winston tallied 40 turnover-worthy plays in their first season with Arians; Brady finished with just 15 such plays in 20 games. Madness.

The one issue for Brady in 2020: pressure. Overall, he averaged 3.1 fewer yards per attempt when under pressure vs. when kept clean — the seventh-largest discrepancy in the league.

The good news is this was a rare occurrence: The Buccaneers posted the league’s fourth-lowest pressure rate in 2020 and finished with PFF’s fifth-best offensive line. The better news is that everyone involved is back for another run at the Lombardi Trophy.

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