Game-By-Game Projections: Chris Godwin (2020 Fantasy Football)
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If you drafted Chris Godwin last season, you had an excellent chance to end up competing for a fantasy championship. The Tampa Bay receiver finished as the PPR WR2, beating out stars like Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins. However, I’m much less optimistic about him in 2020.
The Case Against Godwin
Godwin’s performance relied on three factors: first, Bruce Arians’ pass-heavy scheme; second, Jameis Winston’s arm and cavalier decision-making; and third, his ability to score a touchdown every 9.55 catches.
So why do these matter? Well, without the first, Godwin’s volume goes down. Without the second, he gets fewer catchable balls, and the Buccaneers have to play from behind in fewer situations. Without the third, Godwin’s good-but-not-great 86 receptions don’t lead to a WR2 finish. Only eight players scored touchdowns at a higher rate than him: Kenny Golladay, Mark Andrews, Marvin Jones, DeVante Parker, Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, D.J. Chark, and Cooper Kupp.
Players who finished with 60-plus receptions averaged one touchdown per 19.88 catches, and elite receivers like Adams, Jones, and Hopkins posted rates between 14.85 and 16.6. As such, Godwin’s rate of 9.55 should regress to closer toward the league average.
In 2019, five receivers among those with 60-plus receptions finished top-10 in both catch rate and REC/TDs.
The big jumps in catch rate paired with elite REC/TD clips point to regression for Godwin and Jones in 2020. pic.twitter.com/YWtsKXGqKm
— Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois) June 10, 2020
So if one of three factors that propelled Godwin to fantasy success shouldn’t recur in 2020, how about the other two? Bruce Arians is still the head coach, and he has shown no signs of changing his approach. That said, he has told the media to expect more 12-personnel packages (2TE sets) in 2020, which makes sense, as Tampa Bay now has Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. These formations would put Godwin on the outside, not the slot, which is where he played more than half of his snaps in 2019.
Also, Winston’s gone, and new quarterback Tom Brady is a better decision-maker than him. That could limit Godwin’s garbage-time production, and it could lower his share of deep targets. Brady’s passing efficiency nosedived late last season, and he just hasn’t looked like the elite passer that won the Patriots six rings.
So here is a thing that is happening with Tom Brady. Check out 2019. pic.twitter.com/72rTxe5wBs
— Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin) December 11, 2019
Whew. With all of that said, let’s get onto my projections for last year’s WR2. You’ve probably guessed by now, but I don’t expect Godwin to pay off on his WR6 expert consensus ranking (ECR).
Week 1: at Saints
Ah, yes — the first of two Brady vs. Drew Brees matchups. Godwin put up 172 yards and two scores against the Saints in two games last year, but that sounds better than it really is. Those numbers came on only 15 targets and 10 receptions, which isn’t a ton of volume. This game should be high-scoring, but don’t expect Godwin to crack eight targets in Brady’s debut.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 46 yards (8.6 fantasy points).
Week 2: vs. Panthers
Godwin will be a panic sell for some owners after Week 1. However, he’ll rebound compellingly in Week 2. The Panthers revamped their rushing defense, but they’re still vulnerable in the secondary; replacing James Bradberry with three Day Three draft picks and Eli Apple won’t help them much. Godwin lit up the Panthers with 18 catches, 272 yards, and a score in two games last year, and you can expect another big day from him here.
Predicted Stat Line: 10 targets, 8 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD (23.1 fantasy points).
Week 3: at Broncos
Visiting Denver is never fun, but it will be even less fun next year. Vic Fangio’s Broncos should be much better in 2020, and although they’ve lost Chris Harris, they added A.J. Bouye and bolstered their pass rush with Jurrell Casey. Brady won’t have much time to throw in Denver, so he’ll rely on short-yardage passes. That could benefit Godwin if he were playing the slot, but I expect Gronkowski to get more of those snaps than him.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 52 yards (10.2 fantasy points).
Week 4: vs. Chargers
Brady and Godwin draw the Chargers next. Los Angeles ranked 20th in passing defense last year, but they added star corner Chris Harris. The Buccaneers have a lot of weapons to defend, but the Chargers have a lot of talented guys to cover them — the list includes Harris, Desmond King, and Derwin James. The Bucs may choose the path of least resistance here and emphasize the running game.
Predicted Stat Line: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards (6.4 fantasy points).
Week 5: at Bears
The Bears ranked eighth against the pass last year. They lost Prince Amukamara in free agency, however, and I’m unsure if Kyle Fuller and new addition Artie Burns will be enough to maintain that ranking. Look for Brady and the Buccaneers to get out to a lead early in this one, limiting Godwin’s volume stats.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 51 yards, 1 TD (15.1 fantasy points).
Week 6: vs. Packers
The Packers’ secondary turned a corner in 2019. Green Bay ranked ninth against the pass last year, as Jaire Alexander and Adrian Amos held down the fort despite their offensive struggles. That said, if Alexander lines up on Mike Evans and Godwin gets Kevin King, Godwin might put up an above-average performance. We can safely expect this matchup between Brady and Aaron Rodgers to be a high-scoring one.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 117 yards, 1 TD (26.7 fantasy points).
Week 7: at Raiders
Oh, boy. Jon Gruden back in Tampa Bay? Sign me up. His Raiders aren’t the best team in the league, but their secondary should beat their 30th-place ranking from last season with newcomers Prince Amukamara and Damon Arnette. Look for them to limit Godwin’s effectiveness in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 68 yards (11.8 fantasy points).
Week 8: at Giants
The Giants’ passing defense ranked 31st last year. New head coach Joe Judge will need to do a lot of work to retool the secondary, and it’ll probably take more than one year to do it. That said, I expect the Giants’ offense to put up points against the Buccaneers’ pedestrian secondary, so Godwin should benefit from high passing volume. Godwin only earned three catches and 40 yards on five targets against the Giants last year, but I doubt he’ll underperform like that again.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 101 yards (19.1 fantasy points).
Week 9: vs. Saints
Brady takes on Brees at home here. Godwin should play better in this one, as he’ll have had more time to build chemistry with Brady. If Marshon Lattimore shadows Evans, Godwin will get P.J. Williams, a corner he burned for two touchdowns last year. While I’m not confident that he’ll see tons of volume, he should get enough points to be worth starting.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD (18.7 fantasy points).
Week 10: at Panthers
Godwin draws the Panthers again here, and he’s a safe bet to pop off like he did last year.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 95 yards (16.5 fantasy points).
Week 11: vs. Rams
The Rams graded 10th against in 2019, but Godwin destroyed them in Week 4 for 12 catches, 172 yards, and two scores on 14 targets. He worked against slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman in that game, though, and the corner has moved on to Philadelphia. The Rams have since added Jalen Ramsey, and I think they’ll be able to control Arians’ passing attack a bit better this time.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 48 yards (9.8 fantasy points).
Week 12: vs. Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes visits Brady here, and while you’d usually expect offensive fireworks here, Brady put together an uninspired performance against the Chiefs last year. The signal-caller tossed for only 169 yards, almost of all of which went to slot receiver Julian Edelman. The Chiefs will get most of their sixth-ranked passing defense back, and I expect them to limit his effectiveness again in 2020.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 45 yards (8.5 fantasy points).
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: vs. Vikings
In the first round of the fantasy playoffs, Godwin takes on Minnesota’s passing defense, a unit that ranked seventh in 2020. They lost Xavier Rhodes in the offseason, but Rhodes didn’t close many roads last year, so his departure won’t be that impactful. This should be a competitive game between two teams in the playoff hunt, which will give Godwin enough volume to succeed.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 81 yards (15.1 fantasy points).
Week 15: at Falcons
Tampa Bay plays Atlanta twice in the last three weeks. The Falcons ranked 25th against the pass last year, but they lost star corner Desmond Trufant in the offseason. Replacing him with A.J. Terrell won’t be enough to save their secondary, and you can expect both games between the Buccaneers and Falcons to be high-scoring.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD (19.6 fantasy points).
Week 16: at Lions
The Buccaneers draw Matt Patricia’s Lions in between their games against Atlanta. Patrica’s defense held Brady to just 133 yards in 2018, and while his passing defense ranked 29th in 2019, the additions of Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah give them an imposing secondary. Look for Brady to rely on Gronkowski as he did against Detroit in 2018 — and for Godwin to disappoint in your fantasy championship.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 53 yards (9.3 fantasy points).
Week 17: vs. Falcons
If your league plays in Week 17, you must carefully pay attention to playoff positioning. If both Atlanta and Tampa Bay have a reason to play, then Godwin should post strong numbers again. If one of them is out — or if Tampa Bay is locked in — then Godwin could get some rest. Assuming both teams have to play to keep their seasons alive, however, Godwin should post low-end WR1 numbers.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD (18.6 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 130 targets, 91 receptions, 1,101 yards, 6 TDs (237 fantasy points).
If he plays in all 16 games, Godwin should post a career-high in receptions. He should regress in both yardage and touchdowns, however, as Brady lacks Winston’s raw arm strength.
His 237 fantasy points would’ve put him at WR13 in 2019, just .4 points behind Jarvis Landry, and his clip of 14.8 points per game would’ve ranked 20th. Those are acceptable numbers from your WR2, but they’re not what you want out of your WR1. At his WR6 ECR, Godwin’s a safe bet to disappoint owners in 2020.