Fantasy Football: How to Approach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Baker Mayfield in Town

Mar 17, 2023
How to Approach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Baker Mayfield in Town

Baker Mayfield is heading to Tampa Bay on a one-year contract worth $8.5 million, with $4 million guaranteed. After showing signs of life for the Rams at the end of the 2022 season, Mayfield gets a prove-it deal and will compete with Kyle Trask to replace Tom Brady as the Buccaneers' starting QB.

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Mayfield’s Competition for the Gig

Inking the 27-year-old to a one-year deal indicates that Tampa Bay is not committing to Mayfield long-term and he’ll need to demonstrate that he has the chops to fruitfully lead an NFL team for more than a few games per season.

Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 and hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations for both real and fantasy football. In five seasons, his average completion percentage is 60% which averages out to QB29 in that time frame, while his yards per season (2,163) puts him at QB20. Mayfield has managed to throw 64 interceptions in five years which earned him a spot as the second and fifth most picked-off QB in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Even though Mayfield has struggled to string solid production together, he’ll be battling a sophomore QB in Kyle Trask who has played in one NFL game which resulted in a line of 3-23-0 on nine attempts. It's highly likely Mayfield will be the Bucs starter so let’s see how it looks from a fantasy football perspective.

Baker Mayfield the Fantasy Asset

We’ve never seen better than a fantasy QB2 season from the 27-year-old regardless of situation. Mayfield’s first four years in Cleveland resulted in finishes of QB21, QB28, QB26, and QB34, respectively in fantasy points per game, and last year for the Panthers and Rams he ended as QB41 in that category. Despite the real-life spark he brought to the Rams at the end of the season, Mayfield was dead last (QB50) in completion percentage over expected and 43rd in total EPA/play in 2022 and also doesn't bring much to the table in the rushing department.

While trust in the inconsistent QB is hard to muster up for many fantasy managers, he inherits some solid offensive weaponry and could be of some value for those drafting in best ball formats. Right now Mayfield is leaving draft boards as QB34 in the late-18th round and could provide some juice as a bye-week fill-in or add a spike week or two. He’s not in the conversation in redraft leagues unless we’re streaming the position and that’s a wait-and-see situation.

What About the Tampa Bay Pass-Catchers?

The reality is that all weapons in Tampa Bay get a downgrade with the departure of Tom Brady. Even at age 45 in an under .500 year for the Bucs, he managed to throw for 4,694 yards (third most in the NFL) with 25 touchdowns, which was tied for eighth.

For starters, this offense likely won’t throw the ball as much with Mayfield (or even Trask) at the helm. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are used to seeing monster volume, as Brady posted the most passing attempts in the NFL (715+) in the last two seasons, with 610 in 2020 which was second only to Matt Ryan.

Chris Godwin should be alright, mainly due to his slot duties. Mayfield’s go-to guy in Cleveland was Jarvis Landry who boasts a similar profile to the talented 27-year-old. Despite the downtick, there should still be plenty of volume for Godwin to produce WR2 numbers in this offense. 4for4 currently has him ranked as WR19, yet he’s being drafted as a WR29 in the fifth round in Underdog formats.

Mike Evans on the other hand, gets a drop in value and expectations. He’ll be 30 at the start of the season and his streak of nine-straight years with 1,000 yards could be coming to an end. Per PFF, Mayfield was actually decent last year in deep ball completion percentage (QB5 at 46.9%, minimum 20 attempts), but Evans only scored six touchdowns last season - his lowest since 2019 - and that was in a higher volume pass attack. Evans could surprise us, but right now he’s ranked as WR29 heading into the season with a WR34 ADP at pick 6.05.

In the backfield department, things are looking up for Rachaad White, who thanks to the release of Leonard Fournette, is now the RB1 with new signee Chase Edmonds and Ke’Shawn Vaughn behind him in the pecking order. With the change at QB, we should see a more run-heavy approach in 2023, and it also doesn’t hurt that Mayfield’s RB target percentage (23.7%) was sixth among QBs who played in five or more games last season. White flashed lead-back potential last year while sharing the load with Fournette, and after taking over the starting role from Week 10 on, posted RB3 numbers in half-PPR points per game. The sophomore back is currently ranked as RB35 with an Underdog ADP of 91.3.

Edmonds and Vaughn are nothing more than late-round fliers but if White were to get hurt, could be more valuable in presumably a rush-heavy Tampa Bay offense.

Bottom Line

  • Baker Mayfield added enough of a spark for the Rams down to stretch to earn himself a one-year prove-it contract for the Buccaneers in 2023, and he’ll be competing with a very green Kyle Trask for the starting gig.
  • Mayfield's best finish in fantasy points per game was QB21 in 2018 and has been a low QB2, QB3, and even QB4 throughout his five seasons in the NFL. He’ll be surrounded by talent, but expectations for anything above a QB3 are to be tempered. He's Underdog's QB34 as of March 17th.
  • All offensive fantasy players get a downgrade without Tom Brady under center, but slot guy Chris Godwin is in the best spot due to projected volume and should be drafted as a fantasy WR2. His 4for4 ranking is currently WR19 and he boasts fifth-round Underdog ADP as WR29.
  • Mike Evans’ fantasy output could suffer in a Mayfield-led offense. He’s the 34th WR to leave draft boards in the seventh round and currently sits as WR29 in 4for4’s rankings.
  • It’s thumbs up for Rachaad White in 2023 as he’s the clear RB1 for a likely run-heavy team. White makes for a nice Zero-RB candidate in the eighth round in best ball formats and should be considered an RB3 with RB2 upside.
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