Chris Godwin: Justifiable Hype or Just Hyperbole?
Fire the cannons. Chris Godwin is breaking out in 2019.
Photo Credit: Pewter Report
Based on the news coming out of Tampa Bay, it appears that Godwin is going to feature heavily in the 2019 Buccaneers’ offense. He is also expected to play plenty of snaps from the slot, after only lining up there on approximately 24% of his snaps in 2018. GM Jason Licht confirmed Godwin would “play the role like Larry did in Arizona”, and also noted this lessened the impact of losing Adam Humphries in free agency. Head Coach Bruce Arians told reporters that “he’s never coming off the field”, and will be “close to a 100 catch guy”. Of course, we should always be hesitant in placing too trust in coach speak, so let’s dig into the data and see what we might expect from Godwin moving forward.
In 2018, Godwin worked with modest opportunity but was still effective. He was on the field for 67.7% of snaps, seeing 95 targets (at a 15.3% market share) totaling 59 receptions for 842 yards and 7 TDs. Godwin was utilized regularly in the red zone, with his market share climbing to 18.6% inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and 28.6% inside the end zone.
He was also targeted the fourth most in the NFL inside the opposition 10-yard line. Unsurprising given how effective he can be at finding separation in tight areas:
Chris Godwin 🙌 pic.twitter.com/aJMTrxPBxw
— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) September 25, 2018
Godwin finished 2018 as the WR27, accomplishing this whilst arguably being the fourth WR in the pecking order. Both Mike Evans and Adam Humphries saw a greater number of targets, and while DeSean Jackson had only 74 targets, he only played 12 games and both he and Godwin averaged roughly 6 targets per game. The departure of Humphries and Jackson to Tennessee and Philadelphia respectively has vacated 179 total targets from 2018.
Notably, his fantasy output almost doubled when Jackson didn’t play. Humphries also improved, which is good news for Godwin, who is expected to take over from Humphries in the slot:
Of course, these raw vacated target numbers do not directly translate to 2019, particularly with a new coaching staff in place. The Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken HC/OC duo averaged 602 pass attempts over the past three seasons and were top five in pass attempts the previous two seasons. However, this pass heavy trend should continue into 2019 as Bruce Arians’ offenses averaged 602 pass attempts per season over his past three seasons, finishing inside the top seven in the NFL in pass attempts in both 2016 and 2017.
Even with so many targets up for grabs, Godwin will have to fight for his share of the pie. Jeff Ratcliffe of PFF has pointed out that 100 catches are unlikely in 2019, and I agree it’s a stretch, but I am more optimistic than Jeff. I think that a 22% market share is very feasible outcome for Godwin, and assuming he improves his 2018 catch rate from 64.8% to around 70% (given that he should encounter easier matchups and fewer contested catches in the slot), 90 receptions is well within his range of outcomes.
Godwin’s main competition for targets are Mike Evans and OJ Howard, and my projected target share for the 2019 Buccaneers are as follows:
*includes Cameron Brate, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, and Bobo Wilson.
150 targets seem reasonable for Mike Evans. From 2015 – 2018, the four seasons that Evans has been the WR1 and led the team in targets, he has averaged 148.75 targets per season at a 25.5% market share.
An 18% share for OJ Howard is quite a generous projection. In 2016 and 2017, the Cardinals ran plays from ’12 personnel’ (2 TE on the field) at a rate of 30% and 35% respectively, which was one of the highest rates in the NFL. However, this did not translate into production at the position with all TEs being targeted at 14% and 17% (per Sharp Football Stats). I believe that Howard’s talent and ability to catch the ball downfield should ensure he is involved in the passing game at a higher rate than the likes of Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas.
So we can expect there will be opportunity for Godwin, but what makes us think that he is capable of taking advantage of it? Volume is king in fantasy football, but Chris Hogan’s 2018 season reminds us that talent is still a key requirement.
Firstly, Godwin has the athletic profile to be an NFL star. He is a 95th percentile SPARQ athlete per Player Profiler:
But he is more than just an athlete. He posted strong marks in college dominator, yards per reception, and breakout age markers. He was also a highly regarded prospect by Matt Harmon coming out of Penn State:
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) March 3, 2017
Godwin can also compete for the ball. In college, he had an 85.7% contested catch rate, the highest recorded in either the 2016 or 2017 draft classes. A quick look at his tape, and you can see why he has such a high success rate – this TD catch against the New Orleans Saints demonstrates both strength and concentration, key elements in contested catch success:
Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Godwin (@CGtwelve_)…
END ZONE! #GoBucs
— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2018
Godwin is currently being drafted as the WR34 per the latest DFF ADP, with an overall rank of 67.5. He is a firm buy for me at this price, as I expect his value to rise after a top 24 finish in 2019. He is right on the precipice of a breakout season, as he has the talent, and should see the opportunity to become a household fantasy name in 2019.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Godwin. Is this is his time to break out? Have you recently completed a trade in which he featured, or drafted him in a startup? Let me know on Twitter @FF_DownUnder.