Antonio Brown, Ronald Jones Fantasy Outlooks After Evans, Godwin, Fournette Injuries

Adam WellsDecember 20, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) in action during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
AP Photo/Rich Schultz

Fantasy managers are going to be hurting after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw stars Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette all leave Sunday night's game versus the New Orleans Saints because of injuries.

Expectations are always high for Evans, who has had at least 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first seven seasons in the NFL. His yardage total was down a bit in 2020 (1,006, the second-fewest of his career), but he more than made up for it in the red zone with 13 touchdowns. The 28-year-old is still Tom Brady's favorite red-zone target, though his potential absence could open up more opportunities for Rob Gronkowski.

After Sunday's injuries, a lot of focus will likely turn to Gronkowski, Antonio Brown—who was suspended for having a fake vaccination card but will rejoin the team Monday—and Ronald Jones II.

Brown is thriving in his first full season in Tampa. He leads the team with 83.6 receiving yards per game and is being targeted 8.2 times per contest. The seven-time Pro Bowler did miss games against the Chicago Bears and Saints with an ankle injury to go along with his three-game suspension.

Of note, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Sunday that Brown is "ready to go" in regard to his ankle injury.

Injuries have already hit Gronkowski this season. The four-time All-Pro suffered four cracked ribs, one broken rib and a punctured lung on a hit in the Bucs' 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3. He missed the next four games and attempted to play against the Saints in Week 8, but the Bucs removed him after he played just six snaps.

As long as Gronkowski can stay on the field, he will have fantasy value. The 32-year-old caught 16 passes for 184 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games of the season before his injury.

While Brown is an obvious WR2 if either of Evans or Godwin are absent—and a WR1 if both miss time—and Gronk should be started if he's healthy, Jones is a bigger question mark. He's become the clear backup in Tampa behind Fournette but has shown in the past he could have some value in a starting role, rushing for 724 yards and six scores in 2019 and 978 yards and seven touchdowns last year.

Consider him a flex with RB2 upside in the right matchups so long as Fournette is out.