After participating in team drills on Monday and Tuesday, news came out that Chris Godwin missed practice on Wednesday, which leaves his status as a starter in fantasy football leagues in doubt. Anytime you see someone listed mid-week on the injury report, that instantly raises a red flag for a player’s fantasy availability for the weekend. This case is a bit different as we all learned that Godwin was placed into the NFL’s concussion protocol due to a hit he sustained during their game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. There is now no guarantee we will see Chris Godwin in fantasy football lineups for Week 2.
Anytime we are dealing with a head injury, timelines are challenging to pin down as everyone, and every reason is different and needs to be treated as such. In a situation like this, with minimal days remaining until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ next game on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, we need to be proactive and look for a potential backup option. We also have to look at how Godwin’s likely absence will affect the players around him on the Tampa Bay offense.
The Buccaneers lose one of the best wide receivers due to Godwin’s absence
There is no easy way to replace someone with the talent that Godwin brings. That is true for both fantasy football and more so for the NFL, where elite talent is a premium.
Godwin came in with arguably the most buzz in fantasy circles in 2019 and showed why he deserved it with his breakout season. He caught 86 of his 120 targets for 1,333 yards and nine receiving touchdowns, ending as the WR2 in PPR fantasy formats with 276.1 points. He was a high second-round draft pick heading into 2020 as we expected him to pick up where he left off. However, Week 1 showed there was still time needed to develop chemistry with new quarterback Tom Brady.
In their opening game against the Saints, Godwin was targeted seven times, catching six passes for 79 yards. His 13.9 PPR fantasy points did not cause you to lose but were far lower than expected for someone selected as high as him. The surprising part is that Godwin played the entire game, and his concussion symptoms did not show up until early Wednesday morning.
There is no understating that Mike Evans stands to be the biggest beneficiary if Godwin missed time. This is true for both the Buccaneers as well as for fantasy. However, Week 1 for Evans was one of the most disappointing performances of the entire opening weekend. Evans was only targeted four times and caught one pass for two yards. The part that saved fantasy managers was his only catch was also for a touchdown that saved his day and your fantasy football matchups.
There is a lot of talk that Marshon Lattimore shut down Evans in their matchup. However, when you dig deeper, it was the lack of creativity by Bruce Arians that led to his poor performance.
While playing in on 65% of the offensive snaps, Evans lined up in the slot eight times. On those eight plays, he ran nothing but a seam route seven times in a row. The seventh time he ran this route was the play where Marcus Williams intercepted Brady.
Yes, this goes against Brady, and looks terrible on his already rough outing, but the lack of creativity did neither player any favors. Also, they never tried to get Evans in a mismatch by using pre-snap motion. Godwin was in motion nine times, and Scotty Miller was put in motion eight times. Evans was motioned zero times. While an ailing hamstring already hampered Evans, Arians did him no favors and admitted this in a recent press conference:
“We got to do a better job when we play the Saints of getting Mike in different positions,” coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday on his weekly radio show. “I think we let him sit there on the backside too much last week and it’s something we’re going to have to address when we play them later on again. … I never want to come out of a game without 10 targets to Mike, at least.”
If Godwin misses time, which seems very likely, Evans has to be the alpha this week against Carolina. If you have Evans, you should be starting him with confidence and expect him to come closer to the fantasy player you saw in 2019.
Scotty Miller should be rostered with Chris Godwin’s fantasy outlook in jeopardy
Scotty Miller is one of the more under the radar players who sees a fantasy boost due to Godwin’s absence; don’t expect it to stay this way for long. Lost in all of the Week 1 hype was the solid performance by Miller.
Miller turned his six targets into five receptions for 73 yards while seeing 19.33% of the team’s intended air yards. The former sixth-round pick is the kind of player who can take advantage of a defense utilizing his 4.28 speed that flashed at his pro day.
Brady has never been a quarterback who wants to push the ball with deep shots and take risks. His career average intended air yards of 6.93 shows that he has historically allowed his receivers to create his yards for him. In Week 1, Brady was at 8.4 intended air yards, a full yard and a half more than his average. At 43 years old, I don’t know if this is a sustainable way for him to remain efficient. I think we see this change starting in Week 2 with Miller seeing a majority of these targets.
If you are someone in fantasy who loses Godwin this week, grab Miller and slot him into a flex spot on your roster. Miller is currently rostered in 12.1% of fantasy leagues and is someone who has value even when Godwin returns.
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