Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, George Kittle
The regular NFL season is finally in the books. It’s been 17 weeks, but man did it fly by.
Week 17 of the NFL season is an odd bird. Playoff seeds are all-but-determined, leaving few teams with much to play for. It’s a time where rookies can shine.
Playoff teams may not want to hurt their stars just before the playoffs begin. Teams that disappointed may want to take a look at roster depth before heading into the next season. Opportunities for rookies open way up in Week 17, making it one of the best chances we have all year to scout these young players before preparing for our 2018 drafts.
This week we are going to be taking a look at some of these players who didn’t get a full chance earlier in the season. Yes, JuJu Smith-Schuster was the highest-scoring player in 0.5 PPR leagues this week. That’s amazing, but we’ve already covered the young star at length in this series.
Instead, we are going to look at some lesser-known rookies and shine a light on their performances.
Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
We’ve looked at Chris Godwin before; the 22-year-old filled in admirably while Mike Evans served a one-game suspension earlier this season. Fortunately, Godwin has been making subtle splashes since then, culminating in this week’s 20.60 point outing.
It took Godwin a while to earn significant offensive snaps, but he’d been making contributions on special teams all season. The last two weeks of the season (following DeSean Jackson’s injury), the Bucs took Godwin off of special teams and turned him into an almost every-down starter. That move paid dividends for the struggling team: Godwin’s last-second touchdown catch in Week 17 pushed the team ahead of the playoff-bound Saints for their first win since Week 11.
Godwin has been great for the Buccaneers and great for fantasy over the last two weeks, racking up the sixth-most air yards in the league. His 18 targets in Weeks 16 and 17 ranked tenth among all wide receivers, while his average depth of target of 15.3 yards in that time ranked sixth among wide receivers with double-digit targets.
Put simply, Godwin commanded target volume and was mainly efficient with those targets. If there were a recipe for fantasy wide receiver production, it would probably look a lot like that.
Godwin’s final two weeks were extremely encouraging entering the offseason. With two veteran wide receivers ahead of him on the Bucs’ depth chart we may not see Godwin truly break out for some time, but at least now we know what he’s capable of.
Kenny Golladay (WR – DET)
The last time we heard anything from Kenny Golladay was all the way back in Week 1 when the 6’4″ giant exploded for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He slowed down after that and suffered a hamstring injury that set him back, but Golladay has shown well to close out the season.
Golladay started earning significant snaps back in Week 13, playing 50 or more snaps in each of the Lions’ four final games. Things opened up for the rookie when T.J. Jones, with whom he had been splitting time as the rotational third wide receiver, was sent to the I.R.
Since Jones’ injury Golladay has seen 11 targets, catching six for 108 yards and a touchdown. That’s not bad production for a rookie, especially one on a depth chart populated by Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, this year’s WR11 and WR12 in PPR leagues.
Perhaps most curious about Golladay’s recent production is that he’s seen more playing time in the last three weeks than Tate. This could just be white noise, but it looks promising for the rookie. Tate has one year left on his contract and has mentioned before that he wants a raise; the Lions could be grooming Golladay to replace Tate if necessary.
George Kittle (TE – SF)
Perhaps a little drowned out by the excellent performances by rookie tight ends this year, George Kittle has had one heck of a rookie season himself. Since Jimmy Garoppolo flipped the 49ers on their heads, Kittle has quietly been the TE10 in 0.5PPR leagues.
If this year’s rookie tight end wasn’t so stacked with fantasy studs likes Evan Engram and exciting first round talents like O.J. Howard and David Njoku, we would certainly be making a bigger deal out of George Kittle’s rookie season. Remember last year when we were making a big deal out of Hunter Henry’s and Austin Hooper’s rookie seasons? Neither of those two players was able to produce a 100-yard game in their rookie seasons, but George Kittle just did.
Kittle’s tackle-breaking Week 17 performance (seriously, I think he broke about four tackles) was good enough for a finish as the TE2 on the week, finishing only behind Tyler Kroft and his two touchdowns. He was playing against the Rams’ B-squad, sure, but we want our players to be able to take advantage of soft matchups for fantasy.
A look at some of the stats and metrics on PlayerProfiler.com also illustrates how productive Kittle’s season was. His 1.41 yards per route run ranked tenth among tight ends, while his nine red zone receptions ranked sixth in the league. The red zone statistics are especially encouraging considering that he played with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard for much of the season.
Kittle showed promise with weak quarterbacks and production with a strong one in 2017. He’s a critical target for an up-and-coming franchise and could have an even more productive year in 2018.
We all know how much the offseason can shake up the NFL landscape, so having a good grasp on the young talent in the league can make a huge difference come draft day in your fantasy leagues. Each of the players outlined above that had great Week 17 performances could be in line for even bigger year’s next year, so keep them on your radar this year.
That’s it. This was the final Rookie Report of the 2017 season.
Thanks to everyone for reading throughout the year. I had a blast writing these each week, and I hope you enjoyed reading them (or at least learned something from doing so).