Welcome to the third installment of The Fantasy Authority’s Toss Up series. If you’re a first-timer – it’s simple. We take two players with similar ADP, argue for one or the other, and let the people decide the correct answer. This is a democracy, right? This week, we’re taking a look at a couple of stalwarts in the fantasy analyst 2019 hype bin – Tyler Lockett or Chris Godwin. Both have skyrocketed onto the radar in recent years, and are pushing 4th round ADP in 2019 fantasy drafts. Are we buying the hype? Can Lockett continue to score touchdowns on 99% of his catches (exaggerated, but it sure felt like it)? Can Godwin live up to the unprecedented level of hype thrown his way this offseason? Let’s jump in and toss it up!
One of my favorite aspects of preparing for the 2019 fantasy football season is the polarization of Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin. Among the fantasy community, he is God. He’ll help you Win (Ok, that was a stretch). In all seriousness, to the average fantasy footballer, Godwin is a name that doesn’t seem all too familiar. Yet, he is undoubtedly the #1 breakout candidate in the league this year and is being touted as such. And for good reason.
The third-year Penn State product couldn’t have been blessed with a more ideal situation. The Buccaneers offer the fifth most vacated targets in the league from 2018, with key departures including DeSean Jackson & Adam Humphries. They ranked fourth in the league last year in pass attempts per game. They went through a necessary coaching change bringing in known QB guru and air-yards connoisseur, Bruce Arians.
While Jameis Winston has had a bad case of the turnover bug in recent years, it hasn’t stopped him from lighting up the fantasy scoreboard. He has ranked second in the league two years running in Air Yards per attempt and led the league in Yards in Air % over Yards after the Catch last year, per SharpFootball. I wrote about Jameis as a late-round QB target earlier this offseason. Bruce Arians will continue to improve Winston’s deep ball dexterity & make him more efficient and protective of the football.
Godwin also has the leisure of playing alongside Mike Evans & O.J. Howard as part of one of the most talented receiving corps in the league. He’ll find adequate spacing wherever he lines up & will have plenty of opportunities to beat man coverage. Many thought he would live in the slot this season, but this preseason he has spent less than half of his snaps there. Bruce Arians has bigger plans for Godwin – Larry Fitzgerald type plans.
Before we start on Godwin’s bust in Canton, let’s take a look at his efficiency over the last season. He finished 25th in fantasy points among WRs in both total scoring and points per game. This was whilst braving through a storm of multiple QBs and a sub-par head coach. Godwin had only a 15.3% target share last season, 67th in the NFL. Even if one-third of the Bucs 234 vacated targets go his way in 2019, Godwin will be looking at a 160+ target campaign. Wishful thinking or likely possibility? I’m banking on the latter.
Godwin was Winston’s favorite weapon when it counted in the red zone last year. He ranked fourth in the league in targets inside the 10-yard line & 4 of his 7 total TD’s came from inside the 10. Not only will he be able to win in between the 20’s, but his QB trusts him on a 1-on-1 fade when push comes to shove near pay-dirt.
The hype is justified. Chris Godwin will finish as a top-10 receiver this year, and knowing you can get him in the fourth round of a draft this year will seem like pure lunacy when he is going in the second round come 2020. Snag him for cheap while you still can.
Efficiency. That word is beginning to define the decade. How can we make everything in our lives more efficient? Easier to use? Just plain better? You might be thinking about Uber, Amazon, Apple – the familiar faces. I’m here to tell you that there’s one name that needs to be associated with efficiency above all others: Tyler Lockett. He may not be disrupting the world’s transportation system, online shopping, or communication, but he’s impacting the standards by which we measure wide receivers in fantasy football.
Now that I’ve finally perched Lockett up to an insurmountable hype level, let’s dive into why he’s going to be this year’s breakout WR1. Per PFF, Tyler Lockett averaged 14.9 yards per target in 2018 – that’s the most by any wide receiver with at least 25 targets this past decade. He also averaged 3.28 fantasy points per target – tops in the NFL last season & the most by any WR in any season since targets became a stat in 1992.
Other than being hyper-efficient, Lockett has the luxury of playing with a match made in heaven signal-caller. Russell Wilson is the premier deep ball passer in the NFL, leading the league last year in big-time throw percentage at 8.9%. Speaking of the deep ball, over 24% of Lockett’s 2018 receptions netted 20 yards or more. The two made magic last season, as Wilson was able to record a perfect passer rating (158.3) when targeting Lockett. In fact, among pass-catchers to see at least 200 targets this past decade, Lockett ranks first overall in passer rating when targeted. Wilson will smartly look to continue throwing the ball Lockett’s way in 2019.
Now, can these numbers be replicated over another full season, or is Lockett a one-hit-wonder? The pieces are in place for him to excel once again in Seattle. Russell Wilson isn’t going anywhere, and the Seahawks drafted freak of nature D.K. Metcalf to draw defenders’ attention away from Lockett. Did I mention that Doug Baldwin & his 73 targets retired? Now, the Seahawks were the most run-heavy team in 2018 behind Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive scheme, but they just forked over the biggest QB contract in the history of the league to Wilson. Even if the run/pass split remains stagnant, expect Lockett to light up the stat sheet in the absence of Doug Baldwin & the continued deep ball prowess of his QB. Being drafted as the 16th WR off the board in fantasy drafts this year, expect Lockett to blow his ADP out of the water and post borderline top-8 numbers.
What do you think? I lead Godwin, based purely on the play-caller tendencies. The Seahawks show no signs of slowing down their desire to play smashmouth football and run the ball. The Bucs, on the other hand, will be playing from behind consistently, and are a great candidate to lead the league in pass attempts under Bruce Arians. Let us know who tops your board – reach out to myself or TFA’s Twitter!