By Matt Kelley
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made the most off-season noise in the NFL. They sent Jameis Winston packing, acquired the services of six time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, and they brought Rob Gronkowski out of retirement - one of the most dominant tight ends of all time. As a Carolina Panthers fan, this is nightmare fuel.
The two biggest constants for the Bucs last season, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, are still in Tampa as one of the league's best wide receiver duos. They have been subject to many dynasty debates.
What does all of this change mean for them? Who is the better option for your dynasty squad? Let’s dive in.
Last season was a roller coaster ride for Evans. He finished with 67 catches, 1157 receiving yards, and eight TD’s. That’s a good line for a 16 game season, and Evans compiled those numbers into just 13 games.
Like his counterpart Chris Godwin, Evans experienced the side effects of Jameis Winston’s erratic play. 42.7% of Evans' total points last season came in a three game stretch from weeks 6-9. While fantasy managers would probably prefer a more even distribution, Evans still showed that he could put up massive totals when he’s heavily involved with the game plan.
Evans had nine games last season where he caught four or fewer passes. While the targets were there in some of those games, those targets were coming from Winston. Much has been made of Tom Brady’s lack of arm strength, but he actually had a more accurate deep ball completion percentage (41.7%) than Winston (36.3%), this bodes well for Evans.
Evans will be 27 when the season begins, which leaves the possibility that Evans may still have his best football days in front of him. He is a big body WR that bullies his way to the football.
The one knock on Evans is his ability to do more after the catch. Over the last two seasons Evans ranked 36th in 2019 and 33rd in 2018 in yards after catch. Still, he continues to put up monster yardage totals due to his average depth of target, and given that Brady has always been a QB to rely on timing and accuracy, Evans could absolutely be thrown open more by Brady this season. Some of that will depend on Evans creating separation, that hasn’t always been his strongest attribute. With Brady distributing the ball, fantasy managers will likely find a better, more equal distribution to Evans’ fantasy production.
Evans has a floor of a high end WR2 and the ceiling of a top five fantasy WR in the league.
He was everyone’s fantasy darling last year to break out, and everyone was correct...very, very correct. 86 catches, 1333 receiving yards, and nine scores. My goodness. These are lofty expectations for almost any WR in the league, and Godwin produced those marks in just 14 games. Equally as impressive, Godwin ranked first in yards after catch at 574 yards.
Throughout 16 weeks, Godwin was still the fantasy WR2 overall in points per game and total points at the position. All of this with the double edged sword that was Jameis Winston playing QB.
Roughly half of Godwin’s snap share last season came from the slot. Brady loves to target his slot WR’s, and Godwin could be his best option to date. In early June, Bruce Arians was quoted as saying the Bucs base offense would be in 12 personnel. This is important to monitor as it could cause Godwin to play on the outside more if the Bucs often have two tight ends on the field. Even if 12 personnel is utilized more, Godwin will still be a target hog as I don’t foresee this as a move to feed more targets to O.J. Howard. Godwin is capable of still producing great numbers from the outside, and the Bucs should still run plenty of three WR sets, giving Godwin his due in the slot.
The sky's the limit for Godwin, and he’s only 24 years old. You can expect he and Evans will continue to co-exist within this offense. It’ll be difficult for him to crack the top two spots at the WR position with Michael Thomas and Devante Adams respectively getting the massive target shares on their own teams. It’s hard to imagine a world where Chris Godwin doesn’t finish as a top 12 WR with his ceiling being in the top three at the position.
Regardless of format, both Godwin and Evans are stellar options for your fantasy squad. Almost every metric, however, says Chris Godwin is the better of the duo. I concur. On average, Godwin is going about half of a round in front of Evans in single QB leagues and he’s shown to be worth the premium pick.
Don’t get me wrong, if someone selects Godwin, I’m not going to ignore Evans as he’ll still be great, and I’d be happy to draft him. With all things considered though, Chris Godwin is going to be a fantasy stud for years to come and a player I want on all of my fantasy football rosters.