USA Today Sports. Pictured: Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard
- Expectations are rising for the 2019 Buccaneers. The only question is how many fantasy football superstars can the offense support?
- Ian Hartitz analyzes the fantasy breakout potential of Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard in Tampa Bay.
We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2019 season; this is part of that series.
There’s a lot to like about the potential of the Buccaneers entering the 2019 season. New head coach Bruce Arians has quite the history of enabling high-powered offenses that have produced league-winning fantasy football talent, with examples stretching from David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald to Willie Parker and Santonio Holmes.
The renowned quarterback whisperer is apparently working with one he loves, as Arians was quick to gush over Jameis Winston shortly after accepting the job back in January:
“I feel like I’ve got a great feel for him, his excitement for the game. His willingness to work is unbelievable. He’s in the office at 5 o’clock in the morning. … The whole thing is going to be built around him. I think he can win it all. I mean, he has the intelligence, the toughness, and obviously the arm, ability to lead a team.”
The rest of the league’s 12th-ranked scoring offense from a season ago offers even more reason for optimism.
Mike Evans remains the offense’s undisputed No. 1 target, joining A.J. Green and Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to start their career with five consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Losing DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries wasn’t ideal, but more targets for potential Year 3 breakouts Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard might not be such a bad thing.
Let’s break down what the new-look Buccaneers offense could mean for the unit’s complementary options and dive into the fantasy football outlooks for Godwin and Howard.
Chris Godwin Is One of the NFL’s Better Talents at WR
It’s a bit unclear how Godwin fell all the way to the third round of the 2017 draft. He’s 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and an absurd agility that gives him a SPARQ-x athletic score in the 96th-percentile among all wide receivers.
Godwin didn’t exactly struggle at Penn State, either — 154 receptions for 2,421 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons is hardly a stat line to scoff at.
He’s proven fully capable of operating as one of the better players on the field any time he’s been given a chance to do so.
Godwin’s history of dominating in D-Jax’s absence isn’t based on a few lucky plays or blown coverages. Overall, Godwin ranks 17th among all wide receivers to run at least 500 routes over the past two seasons with 1.92 yards per route run (per Pro Football Focus).
There should be little argument at this point: Godwin is #good at football.
Helping matters for Godwin’s potential fantasy-friendly role in the Buccaneers offense is his ability to operate from the slot. Offseason coach speak should be taken with a grain of salt, but Arians did indicate that Godwin will see a lot of action from the slot and could be a 100-catch guy.
Godwin has the ability to beat defenses downfield, work in the slot and win contested-catch situations. It would be shocking if he continues to spend much time on the bench in an offense that’s suddenly thinner at wide receiver. Of course, that lack of depth could lead to a larger pass-game role for the offense’s other budding star.
O.J. Howard Has All the Looks of the NFL’s Next Great TE
Howard burst on the scene with 208 yards and two touchdowns during Alabama’s 2015 national championship victory over Clemson. The 6-foot-6, 251-pound tight end would later go on to dominate the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and grading out with a SPARQ-x score in the 88th-percentile of all tight ends.
It didn’t take long for Howard to start dominating at the NFL level.