A momentous fantasy milestone occurred in Tampa’s Week 18 game against Carolina last year. The game wasn’t stopped to commemorate, there was no confetti, and no streamers fell, but the accomplishment is no less impressive. Mike Evans passed 2000 PPR fantasy points for his career. Two thousand fantasy points. I’ll pause to let that sink in.
Considering that he has accumulated those points over an eight-season career, it becomes obvious what a paragon of elite-level consistency he has been over his career. Averaging 250 fantasy points per season, he’s never been below 200 and has a 300-point season on his resume. It’s been a fantasy football Hall of Fame-worthy career, but is there yet another level for him?
Note: Our Wednesday, July 20th, No Punt Intended episode discusses Mike Evans in fantasy football! We welcomed the one and only Stephania Bell from a little company called ESPN! The show covered the Bills, Titans, and Buccaneers.
2021 – What Happened?
It was more of the same for the Tom Brady/Mike Evans partnership. Evans had 70 receptions for 1006 yards and 13 touchdowns in Brady’s inaugural year in Tampa and followed it up in 2021 with a 74/1035/14 season in year two with the GOAT. Consistency, thy name is Michael Lynn Evans. Advanced stat metrics continued to rain praise down upon him. Football Outsiders ranked him as the number four wide receiver in the NFL in both DYAR and DVOA (he’s ranked in the top six in both metrics in five of his eight seasons). Pro Football Focus was slightly more reserved but still high, grading him as the 30th WR. Interestingly, this was one spot above new teammate Russell Gage.
2022 – What’s Next?
Tampa has undergone some changes since we last saw them. Tom Brady retired, then unretired. Bruce Arians then retired. Gronk retired and is currently (checks Twitter) yet to unretire. Ali Marpet retired and is not expected to unretire. Alex Cappa went to Cincinnati as a free agent. Ronald Jones likewise went to Kansas City (unless Leonard Fournette ate him, which is unconfirmed at present). Throw in the turnover in the WR corps that happened at the end of last season (Chris Godwin’s ACL tear; Antonio Brown’s on-field tantruming), and it’s evident that this season’s Bucs offense will look drastically different than last year’s.
The Godwin knee injury is the biggest question hovering over the Bucs offense in 2022. The injury occurred in late December, so a “typical” ACL repair recovery timeline puts his return in late September or early October, meaning he’ll likely open the season on the PUP list and miss at least the first four weeks. The aforementioned Russell Gage was brought in to replace Antonio Brown as the 3rd WR, but until Godwin is back, he’ll play 2nd banana to Evans. Once Godwin does return, there will be a “Battle of the Local Bands to open for Whitesnake” style competition to determine who gets the open wide receiver snaps.
Therein lies the opportunity for Evans to take his game to another level. Target share. Evans’ elite production over two years with Tom Brady has come on a non-elite target share. He’s gotten 109 and 114 targets over 32 games the last two seasons, almost exactly seven per game. Russell Gage is not Antonio Brown. Cameron Brate is not Gronk. Motley Crue is not Whitesna-…errr Chris Godwin. If Playoff Lenny can’t drop the equivalent of a medium-sized dog worth of weight by opening day, Evans will be the only player who resembles himself and/or the player they are replacing from last season.
Let’s be serious; Tom Brady didn’t come back to play his age-45 season because he didn’t want to be around his kids or because Gisele is high-maintenance. Instead, he came back to win a(nother) Super Bowl. The path to said Super Bowl runs through Mike Evans. Brady targeting him relentlessly will not only drive Evans to career-high statistical levels, but it will also keep the Bucs in the hunt for the playoffs and the ultimate prize.
A Look Inside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Editor’s Note: We asked our writers to focus on one player, but we don’t want to leave you hanging on the rest of the team. While Joel focused on Mike Evans in fantasy football, here is a quick look at the rest of the Buccaneers, prepared by either Josh Hudson or Ryan Weisse.
Tom Brady: Father Time is undefeated, but the GOAT’s taking him to OT. -Joel Wirth Yep. -Ryan Weisse
Leonard Fournette: In all seriousness, I’m pretty sure this weight thing is overblown off-season deadtime talk. Pretty sure…-Joel Wirth I am significantly less confident than Joel. Fournette has little left from the motivation that drove him the last two seasons, and this is red flag #1. -Ryan Weisse
Rachaad White: White’s not an elite prospect, but he’s a nice player. He’ll outperform RoJo & Gio Bernard falling out of bed. If Lenny’s weight “problem” is actually a problem, he’ll be fantasy gold. -Joel Wirth Yep. -Ryan Weisse
Chris Godwin: He’ll miss the first month, and betting on guys returning from ACL repairs to return to form in the first year back is a sucker bet. I’m fading. -Joel Wirth The ADP is just too high right now, and Joel is pretty much right. -Ryan Weisse
Russell Gage: A JAG’s JAG, but he’ll be getting targets from the GOAT. Opportunities are everything. -Joel Wirth If Godwin misses time, Gage will have the best six weeks of his career. He is worth a late-round pick, especially if you drafted Godwin or DeAndre Hopkins. -Ryan Weisse
Cameron Brate: He’ll catch enough touchdowns to finish TE22. -Joel Wirth Let’s not forget that Rob Gronkowski was a top-10 fantasy TE in this option. Brate isn’t Gronk, but the volume should be there to make him a perfect weekly streaming option. -Ryan Weisse
We hope you enjoyed our look at Mike Evans for fantasy football this season. You can find all of our A Look Inside articles here!
If you’re prepping for your dynasty drafts, you can also find our rookie consensus rankings here.