Chris Godwin Will Ascend in 2018 (Fantasy Football)
Last year was a very strange year for wide receivers. There were only 13 that recorded 1,000 yards or more in 2017. That is the fewest in the past 20 years.
Compare that to the previous year, where there were 23. It was also an unpredictable year for rookie wide receivers. First rounders Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross combined for a total of 45 receptions for 460 yards, whereas undrafted rookie Keelan Cole himself had 42 receptions for 748 yards. He averaged over seven yards more per reception and scored three more touchdowns with Blake Bortles as his quarterback.
The two most productive rookie wide receivers were named JuJu and Cooper, and both were WR2s by the end of the season. One rookie wideout that didn’t make many headlines last year was Chris Godwin. However, he quietly had a solid first season and came on near the end when he got more playing time.
Currently, he is ranked on FantasyPros as WR67, which means he probably won’t get drafted in redraft leagues. Therefore, he is the perfect candidate for this year’s sophomore scud wide receiver, as he will outperform his ADP and has the chance to be fantasy significant.
Penn[ed] Up Energy in College
Godwin started at Penn State in 2014, the same year as DaeSean Hamilton. In their rookie seasons, Hamilton broke out, while Godwin did not. Hamilton ended up with a stat line of 82 receptions, 899 yards, 11.0 yards per reception, and two touchdowns.
Godwin only had 23 receptions, 338 yards, 13.0 yards per reception, and two touchdowns. Although Hamilton was more precocious as a freshman, the opposite effect would happen a year later. As a sophomore, it was Godwin who broke out as Hamilton took a back seat. It is important also to remember that Hamilton never came close to recapturing his freshman breakout year until he was a senior, no longer competing with Godwin as the number one target hog.
While Hamilton disappeared for two years, Godwin dominated. In his sophomore season, he had 69 receptions for 1,101 yards, improving his yards per reception to 16.0. That year he still only had five touchdowns.
It wasn’t until his junior year where he posted double-digit touchdowns. He took a dip in receptions (59) and yards (982) but boasted a 16.6 yards per reception while scoring 11 touchdowns. Remember, this is all happening during Saquon Barkley’s dominance.
Godwin then made the best decision for himself and Hamilton — he declared after his junior season to go pro. The Buccaneers picked him up in the third round of the NFL rookie draft and Hamilton was held back a year to get his mojo back and become draft-worthy a year later in the fourth round.
Many people were blown away by Penn State’s dominance at the combine this year. Barkley posted workout metrics that met his production. It was at a level untouched by any other running back. Mike Gesicki’s numbers were so good that he is now considered the most athletic tight end ever.
However, a year before when it was Godwin’s turn to turn heads, he did just that. One of the reasons Godwin surpassed Hamilton as the at Penn State’s leading receiver was his athleticism. If you compare their workout profiles on Player Profiler, you will quickly realize that it isn’t even close.
Godwin’s metrics are sublime. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash with his 109.5 size-adjusted speed score; he falls in the 89th-percentile among all wide receivers. His 11.01 agility score is in the 72nd-percentile, and his 124.2 burst score, which is his lowest metric still puts him in the 68th-percentile. He has a Nike SPARQ-x score that places him in the elite 98th-percentile.
Godwin’s production and athleticism made him a steal for the Buccaneers in the third round last year. Overshadowed by the likes of Corey Davis, Mike Williams. and speed champion John Ross, Godwin got lost in the shuffle. Tampa Bay did not lose sight and picked up a bargain.
Whoever is scouting for the Buccaneers is excellent at talent evaluation. as they have found another value this year in Justin Watson. who just played up the road from Godwin, at Penn.
A Tale of Two Halves
Godwin played the entire 16 games last year with Tampa Bay, but found himself on a team loaded with talent and experience. Therefore, it was hard for him to break through initially. However, due to Winston’s injury woes and with the Buccaneers underperforming expectations early on, Godwin saw his diligence and patience begin to pay off. This table shows that Godwin’s season was a tale of two halves:
Chris Godwin’s Rookie Season
In the first half of the season, Godwin was a non-factor. However, once Week 10 commenced, he became something, averaging 17 yards per reception, mimicking his days in college. Godwin has had the tendency to start slow and finish strong. In the end, Godwin had the fourth-most rookie receiving yards, behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, and Keelan Cole.
And like the Cole comparison earlier, he gained more yards than the three first-round wide receiver rookies combined. It was a sneaky productive year for Godwin. It might have gone unnoticed by many, but because of his second-half surge, it looks as though it will continue to climb this year.
I’m Sorry D. Jackson, I am for Real
Already there is a lot of talk that Godwin has surpassed Adam Humphries on the Tampa Bay wide receiver depth chart. This would mean that he is about to take a bigger step forward as the team’s third receiver. However, he is not expected to be the team’s slot receiving option having only played 5.9% of his snap share there last year and rarely playing that position when he was at Penn State.
Could he excel as a slot receiver? Sure. He’s got the size. Standing at 6’1” and weighing in at 209 pounds, he would be a great player to target in the slot with his relatively large frame, and I am sure that if it means more playing time for Godwin, he would be happy there.
However, Godwin is fast and has always excelled on the outside. The apparent problem is DeSean Jackson is occupying that spot.
Youth and durability are definitely on Godwin’s side. Godwin is more than six years younger than Jackson, who turns 32 in December. Godwin has also never missed a game in college or as a pro. Jackson, on the other hand, has only played sixteen games two seasons out of ten.
It is also noteworthy to look at each player’s statistics in the second half of the season, once Godwin started to become an asset.
DeSean Jackson vs. Chris Godwin Comparison: Weeks 10-17
Although Godwin did play two more games, his numbers far outshine Jackson’s. Many put a positive spin on the Jameis Winston/DeSean Jackson relationship as being just a “half step” off from making a connection, but it could be that Jackson is starting to lose a step in general.
He coincidentally is ranked 17 spots ahead of Godwin on FantasyPros as WR50. Jackson is due to make $11 million in 2018, whereas Godwin’s salary is only $581.000. Even if nothing were to change this year, don’t expect Jackson to play for Tampa Bay next year, especially with Watson waiting in the wings.
As One Thuds, Another One Scuds
Don’t be surprised if youth trumps experience this year in Tampa Bay. Worst case scenario, Godwin will be a value as the third option in the slot. Best case scenario, he replaces the aging, injury-prone Jackson and becomes the wide receiver everyone talks about this year.
Have him be your late-round dark horse that you can get at the end of your draft. His untapped potential could be the difference that propels you to fantasy victory.