Does Chris Godwin’s knee injury make him too risky to draft for fantasy in 2022?

How concerned should fantasy managers be over Chris Godwin's injury status as drafts begin to take place?

Fantasy football draft season is quickly approaching, which means injuries and/or setbacks that take place now could impact some of these players’ potential for the 2022 NFL season. Given the latest news surrounding Chris Godwin and his injury, how should fantasy football managers approach drafts this year regarding one of the better receivers in the NFL?

Is Chris Godwin’s injury status a warning sign for fantasy?

In an ideal world, every player would enter the season healthy, rejuvenated, and with no red flags that fantasy managers need to worry about come draft day. Unfortunately, we all know that this is not the reality. And one such player making managers scratch their heads when on the clock is Godwin as he continues to recover from an injury suffered last year.

During Tampa Bay’s week 15 contest against the New Orleans Saints, Godwin tore his right ACL and MCL, which led to reconstructive surgery in the first week of 2022.

Despite Godwin not being placed on the PUP list to start training camp, there is no concrete timetable for when he will partake in-game action. While recovery times have seemingly quickened thanks to improvements in sports medicine, it’s something you can’t rush. Unfortunately for Godwin, the timing of his injury has his status for Week 1 very much up in the air.

The news he will not start training camp on the PUP list is a positive step, but it does not mean he will be active for Week 1. If the Buccaneers take the long view, having Godwin sit the first six weeks could be beneficial further down the line.

Is there reason to believe Godwin can return quickly from his injury?

The initial reports suggested there was no timetable for Godwin‘s return to the field, but that seems to be changing. According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Buccaneers are “hopeful” that Godwin is ready for the Week 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys, just 10 months removed from his ACL surgery. Thew latest news regarding being available for training camp further increases the chances he plays in Week 1.

This is quite a different feeling than the initial concerns Godwin might start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would require him to miss the team’s first four games. However, that certainly doesn’t mean he’s out of the woods.

It’s worth noting that in March, Godwin signed a three-year extension with the Buccaneers, showing the team’s confidence in his ability not only to come back but be the same productive player that he has been for multiple years.

The WR15 in 2021, Godwin was the No. 7 WR in points per game at 17.3 PPR. Thanks to a 21.21% target share on the NFL’s fastest (26.5 seconds per snap) and pass-happiest offense (67% pass rate), Godwin set career highs with 98 receptions on 127 targets for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad for someone splitting targets with three Hall of Fame-caliber players in Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown.

Two of those pass catchers are gone for vastly different reasons, meaning Godwin is needed now more than ever if the Buccaneers want to get back to the Super Bowl.

Does Godwin’s injury make him too risky to draft for fantasy in 2022?

When I’m trying to decide if a player is too risky to draft in fantasy, I’m considering the opportunity cost involved with that selection. If I draft a player, who else am I passing up on at that same value. Regarding Godwin, adding him to your roster is no small cost.

Based on ADP, Godwin is the WR23 on Sleeper, coming off the board at pick 75.6. That is within the same range as other wide receivers such as Mike Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Brandin Cooks, and Courtland Sutton. Running backs in this range consist of AJ Dillon and Kenneth Walker III. Those are big-time names and players we expect to be significant contributors in 2022.

For me, this is higher than where I have him ranked as my WR34 when we thought he would play little role in training camp. But if you could guarantee me health, Godwin would be in the teens, if not higher. The Tampa Bay offense is one of the most conducive systems for generating fantasy points. Add in Godwin’s supreme talent, and you’re looking at someone who could be a top-10 wide receiver.

However, just because Godwin is back does not mean he is himself. NFL players continually say it takes over an entire season once they return to trust their knee fully. What is the ceiling for an 80% version of Godwin if that’s the case? Add in the chance of re-injury and hamstring injuries that tend to follow ACL tears, and Godwin carries quite a bit of risk, although he also brings a monumental amount of upside.

Taking Godwin in your fantasy draft before we have further clarification on his injury is a risk, but one that could pay off tenfold should he be on the field (and remain on it) when the season opens. Although I would not feel comfortable with him as my WR2, I might be warming up to him as my WR3 with championship-winning upside.

Tommy Garrett is the Senior Fantasy Football Analyst at Pro Football Network. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.

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