The Path to a WR1 Fantasy Season: Chris Godwin
Editor’s Note: As outlined in the Path to WR1 Primer article, The Path to a WR1 Fantasy Season article series will showcase WRs who are currently ranked outside of the top-15 receivers in Andy, Mike, and Jason’s initial PPR rankings. We are identifying players that possibly have a shot at finishing the year as a WR1. We are NOT projecting a WR1 end of the year total but merely giving the high-end range of outcomes for players to show what type of ceiling is in the realm of possibilities.
Tampa Bay third-year WR Chris Godwin has been a popular off-season breakout candidate based upon some earlier comments from new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. “I think Chris Godwin is going to be close to a 100-catch guy,” Arians said to the Tampa Bay Times. “Especially because I think he can play in the slot. He’s never coming off the field.”
That type of off-season hype definitely has risen Godwin’s overall fantasy stock and ceiling to the point where Arians’ century-mark reception prophecies are worth examining. Godwin is currently the consensus WR25 in the Ballers WR rankings and possesses an ADP of 5.05 that could be worth the investment. The question is how high can Godwin go?
Let’s recap Godwin’s 2018 season, project what a WR1 season would look like based on the most important fantasy categories, and finally give the percentage likelihood of a WR1 campaign in 2019.
Want all the Reception Perception info on Chris Godwin? Buy the Ultimate Draft Kit to get data on all the rest of the top 50 WRs.
2018 Season Recap
After a splendid finish to his rookie year, Godwin ascended to becoming the clear WR2 in Tampa Bay behind Mike Evans after injuries to DeSean Jackson. Godwin finished the year as the WR25 in 0.5-point scoring, only 1 point behind Chargers WR Mike Williams for a spot in the top-24. Godwin had 59 catches, 842 receiving yards, and 7 TDs on the year. He started out strong catching a TD in each of his first three games averaging 13.2 fantasy points per game. However, he plateaued a bit early and likely tantalized fantasy owners for the rest of the season. From Weeks 4 to 15, Godwin was the WR45! There were some useable weeks but not quite the consistency you might have desired. He finished the year with a ridiculous 6/114/2 line against the Falcons in Week 17.
If you are someone bullish on Godwin for 2019, you might comment on how he was 20th in Air Yards and showcased some elite contested catch skills hauling in 47.8 percent of those 23 targets. This was one of the “trump traits” Harmon highlights in his recent Reception Perception profile in the UDK and echoed in his College Reception Perception Profile from 2017 where Harmon called him his “most underrated WR prospect“.
Detractors will point out that he drew three targets or less in half of his games and will continue to have an enigmatic QB in Jameis Winston, who is always a second away from a nuclear 4-INT meltdown.
The Path for 2019
In order for Godwin to ascend to the WR1 territory in 2019, there are a number of statistical benchmarks he must meet to become truly an elite fantasy option.
Target Share– At 15.3 percent, Godwin had the 2nd highest WR market share in the league for a team’s WR3. While Adam Humphries technically saw 10 more targets than him, it is clear Godwin has a brighter future. But before we sing praises of Godwin, we need to factor in how he fits in with the rest of the team.
The Buccaneers have been one of the most pass-happy teams in the league and look to continue this trend with Arians at the helm. Since coming in the league, Mike Evans has rightfully demanded 22+ percent of this team’s targets at the could easily trend towards 25 if things trend his way. Regardless, with DJax and Humphries out of town, there are 179 targets from 2018 that have opened up. While a healthy O.J. Howard and second-year WR Justin Watson will have a say, the time seems right for Godwin to build upon his 95 targets from last year and take another step forward. On the high-end, Godwin could see as much as 20 percent of a Jameis Winston-led passing attack that should once again pass for 615+ attempts which would put Godwin at 123 targets.
Catch Rate– In 2018, Godwin caught 59 of his 95 targets for a 62.1 percent, an average catch rate but right there with fellow teammate Mike Evans and other WR1 rockstars Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown. However, we must take into context the type of routes he ran. For an in-depth look at Godwin’s route tree and his success at different levels of the field, you’ll have to see Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception breakdown in the Ultimate Draft Kit.
As discussed in The Path to WR1 series guide, catch rate can fluctuate but let’s give him an uninspiring rate of 60 percent. His move to the slot could easily increase this percentage as he sees more slant and drag routes, which he excelled in 2018. 60 percent of 123 targets put our man 3/4’s of the way to that 100 receptions Arians predicted.
Receptions– 100 receptions? Is it in the realm of possibilities or is BA just blowing smoke out of his bum? Based on the previous target share and catch rate, 100 receptions seems like an ambitious total when factoring in the rest of the team. I’m not here to project injuries or a step backward from Evans in any way. 75 catches seem to be a safe bet and the Ballers agree with his current projection in the Ultimate Draft Kit sitting at 74 catches.
What would it take for Godwin to get to a hundo?
First off, the entire offensive passing pie would have to reach somewhere north of 650 pass attempts. And second, the ancillary weapons would need to have little resemblance of a target share. This isn’t entirely out of the question given the fact Tampa Bay RBs had the 2nd lowest target share (14.1 percent) in the league and 3rd lowest average over the last five years. If WR Justin Watson is a non-factor, Breshad Perriman continues to look like a 58-year-old man, and none of the rookie WRs assert themselves, we could see a similar situation to what happened in Minnesota last year. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs were 1A and 1B seeing 25.8 and 25.2 percent of the targets respectively. If Godwin somehow sees a quarter of the targets, then we’re cooking with 100 receptions.
Yards– Among players with 50+ receptions, Godwin posted the 10th best yards per reception (14.27) among WRs. As mentioned earlier, his Air Yards would indicate we have a player with room to improve even more in 2019. The threshold we’re looking for with someone with Godwin’s athletic makeup and role on a pass-happy offense is 1,000+ yards. You probably don’t have to squint your eyes too hard to see that hitting the millennium mark is well within reach; in fact, it’s a mere 158 more receiving yards than 2018. But what could be the top-end of his yardage?
DeSean Jackson and Humphries combined for 1,580 yards last year, all of which are now unaccounted for. A team’s WR2 (in terms of target share) can certainly have a number of yardage outcomes. There were some on the high-end like Juju Smith-Schuster’s unreal 1,426 yards or middle-of-the-road guys like Sterling Shepard or Mohamed Sanu with a comparable 800+ yards. While Godwin’s yards per target could certainly fluctuate in 2019, it’s not insane for him to top out somewhere north of 1,200 yards.
TDs– Thus far, the profile of Godwin has been fairly optimistic. While TDs can vary, it should be encouraging to see that Godwin only saw two less end-zone targets than Evans saw in 2018. The Bucs are not afraid to throw the ball when they get in close so that number should be well within the possibilities of being repeatable. Evans will get his. The bigger question might be Howard. He is an absolute monster with the ability to “blot out the sun” and shield himself from defenders in the end zone. His health makes the Bucs dynamic with three bonafide weapons for Winston.
Seven TDs was a solid total for Godwin to build off of. It’s not stretching the numbers by any means to say that with an added 30 or so targets we could see nine TDs. However, predicting near double-digit TDs would mean taking a few away from Evans and Howard, something that is hard to envision and unlikely to occur.
WR1 Possibility: Low Chance (Less than 20%)
This percentage was based upon a recent Twitter poll combined with the average of the Fantasy Footballers writing staff. 20% is essentially saying Godwin would hit WR1 numbers 2 out of 10 times if we were to simulate 2019. In other words, he’s a dart throw at best. To put this in perspective, DeAndre Hopkins would probably something be more like 90% given his consistency, team, and a mostly scratch-free medical record. Danny Amendola looks more like 1%.
Rod Christopher Godwin (or as I like to call him “Rod Godwin”) seems like one of 2019’s most lauded burgeoning fantasy stars and for good reason. He is praised by the analytics and draft crew while also showing well in the film room. The raw numbers are certainly there for him to jump into the near top-12 stratosphere while he’s certainly hindered by having an alpha named Mike Evans on the roster.