Just seven months removed from knee surgery, Chris Godwin managed to avoid the PUP list to start training camp.
Bucs WR Chris Godwin has been cleared to begin training camp despite undergoing knee surgery Jan. 3 for a torn ACL.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) July 26, 2022
LB Lavonte David (Lisfranc) also is ready to participate in workouts beginning Wed. But the team will be careful with both. Neither needed to start on the PUP list
No one should have expected Godwin to be back to 100% by Week 1 in the first place – Godwin’s real target for return to form is somewhere between Week 3-5 (per our Edwin Porras). Even with that in mind, Godwin is a 5th to 6th round pick by ADP because the overwhelming majority of drafters are staying away from his injury risk.
Most of the time, I am cautious with players coming back from major injuries in the first half of drafts too. However, this situation is totally different. Godwin’s upside – relative to ADP – is going massively overlooked.
With Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski gone, Godwin is set up for a monster season when he does return to form by October (barring any setbacks).
In the 13 games that Godwin has played without Brown over the last two years, Godwin’s targets increased by 21% and he averaged 18.7 fantasy points per game as a result. For reference, 18.7 FPG would have made Godwin the WR6 last season over Ja’Marr Chase (18.0 FPG).
Check out this side by side comparison of Godwin’s production vs. Mike Evans in the games they’ve both played without Brown:
Godwin vs. Evans in games without Antonio Brown (13 games over the last two seasons)
Godwin easily led the duo in targets, receptions, and yards – but Evans scored a ton of TDs. Makes sense!
Of course, Russell Gage and Julio Jones provide new, necessary depth where the Bucs’ desperately needed it. Gage especially will be relied on heavily. Still, neither Gage or Julio is in Antonio Brown’s orbit as a receiver. Even while playing through a bad ankle injury, Brown led all receivers in target share per route run (31.1%) and was second among all receivers in yards per route run (2.92).
Brown’s absence is massive.
This Godwin situation reminds me of Cooper Kupp’s return from a knee injury in 2020. After tearing his ACL in mid-November of 2019, Kupp was a 4th-5th round pick by ADP the following year. He ended up not missing a game in 2020 and finished as fantasy’s WR7 by fantasy points per game. Kupp was 26-years-old.
Godwin tore his ACL one month later (mid-December), is on track to return by early-October at worst, and has finished as fantasy’s WR2 > WR15 > WR7 over the last three years in PPR points per game. Godwin turned 26-years-old this year.
Godwin is a bonafide WR1 when healthy, but he is being drafted as a WR3 in all drafts. Even if he misses a few games to start the season, you can easily make up for his lost production because he does not cost a premium pick. That lost production pales in comparison to the WR1 upside Godwin can provide when it matters most in December.