Will Chris Godwin Be a Breakout Player in Fantasy Football in 2018?
There is nothing new about an NFL team based in Florida heaping offseason praise on a young wide receiver. The Miami Dolphins have made the practice something of an art form with DeVante Parker, after all.
Is this just more preseason noise, or has Godwin really done enough to warrant such praise? And, most importantly when it comes to fantasy, will Godwin see enough volume to be a worthwhile fantasy asset in redraft leagues in 2018?
Let's take a look using our in-house Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which you can learn more about in our glossary. NEP tracks the efficiency of both teams and players, with the team side being adjusted for strength of opponent. A three-yard reception on 3rd-and-2 is wildly different than a three-yard reception on 3rd-and-4, and NEP helps account for that by tracking the expected points players add to their teams' total over the course of a season.
Godwin in 2017
Godwin, a rookie in 2017, was a third-round pick out of Penn State. He played in all 16 games for the Buccaneers, but he was in on only 40.96% of the offensive snaps. In terms of snap share, he played far less than Mike Evans (80.90%), Adam Humphries (62.53%) and DeSean Jackson (55.92%). He also saw fewer targets than the veteran trio, with Godwin having 55 passes sent his way, compared to 136 for Evans, 90 for Jackson and 83 for Humphries.
Unsurprisingly, he finished with fewer receiving yards than them, as well, posting 525 yards and a single touchdown on 34 receptions. Godwin did lead the group in yards per target with 9.5, however. Humphries had 7.6, while Evans and Jackson both had 7.4.
Taking a look at our per-play metrics, the Buccaneers may have been better served looking to Godwin more frequently.
|Player||Target NEP Per Target||Reception NEP Per Target|
For reference, the league average Reception NEP per target was 0.76, and the average Target NEP per target was 0.22. Of the 85 wide receivers who saw at least 50 targets, Godwin was tied for 16th in Target NEP per target, posting the same mark as his teammate Humphries and Seahawks star Doug Baldwin.
Obviously, it's easier to maintain big-time efficiency over a smaller sample, but Godwin clearly took advantage of the few chances he got.
He also saw his role grow as the season went on. Godwin went into November having more than one catch in just one of eight games. Then he averaged 3.25 grabs and 55.25 yards per game over the last eight contests.
Barriers to Progress
Godwin showed enough as a rookie to get us excited about what he could do with a bigger role in the Buccaneers' offense. Of course, the major question is -- how can he get a bigger role in the offense?
He is certainly not going to play ahead of Evans, who the Bucs made the second-highest-paid wide receiver in the game this offseason. But the rest of Tampa Bay's receiver depth chart isn't as scary, although it's not barren, either.
Humphries is the Buccaneers' slot receiver, lining up inside on 54.5% of his snaps. He was just as efficient per target as Godwin last season, and his specialist skills probably give him a good shot at retaining a meaningful role.
That brings us to Jackson, who is likely the player Godwin needs to surpass to seize a starting role, especially if Tampa wants to use Godwin on the outside. However, the Bucs are paying Jackson $11 million in 2018, and that's an unthinkable amount for a backup player. And releasing D-Jax this year would result in $7.5 million in dead money, so that's very unlikely. Plus, Jameis Winston has already spoken of his desire to demonstrate Jackson's value to the team, with the two players planning on working out together this offseason.
Also, there is the not-insignificant matter of the Bucs having two good tight ends in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Tampa lined up in 12 personnel (two tight ends) on 24% of their offensive snaps last season, the sixth-highest rate in the NFL. Brate -- who was signed to a meaty extension this offseason -- played in the slot on more than 20% of his snaps last season, meaning that if the Buccaneers do go with 12 personnel, they can keep Evans and Jackson on the outside.
As a first-year player, Godwin showed the Buccaneers -- and fantasy owners -- he could be a major contributor at some point down the line. However, barring injury, it looks like Godwin has quite a few hurdles to leap over to see the kind of target volume that would make him a meaningful redraft asset in 2018.
It's a different story in dynasty formats. Precisely zero of the $10 million Jackson is set to make in 2019 is guaranteed, so Godwin could grab an every-snap role opposite Evans after this year.
The offseason chatter may make Godwin a little overvalued this fall in redraft leagues unless he does jump D-Jax or Humphries for a starting gig, but he's one of the better buy-low assets in dynasty formats.