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What Fantasy Managers Should Know About These Injured Receivers - Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, Robert Woods, Michael Gallup

Fantasy managers are no strangers to managing injuries and determining how to handle those injured and other players who are indirectly affected by that player's absence. That is, after all, a major component of football – injuries. They're always going to happen, they're absolutely unavoidable. However, typically fantasy managers aren't left with so many questions during the offseason.

During this predraft season, fantasy managers are left wondering how to value Chris Godwin, Michael Gallup, Michael Thomas, and Robert Woods. Gallup and Godwin both tore their ACLs in the last few weeks of the season – Week 15 for Godwin and Week 17 for Gallup. Typically, the recovery time is roughly around 9–12 months, which leaves plenty of questions regarding their early-season availability. Woods also suffered a torn ACL, but his injury occurred a bit earlier – Week 10, giving him a bit of extra time. Michael Thomas has not played in a football game since Week 14 of 2020. He had offseason ankle surgery prior to the 2021 campaign, but due to a setback with the surgery, he ended up missing all of last season. Ending into 2022, there are still question marks surrounding his status.

These are some fairly big names clouding up fantasy drafts. Godwin and Thomas – when healthy – have been top-12 receivers who have been locks for at least WR2 status. Gallup struggled with injuries last year and was the third wheel in 2020 to CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, but people tend to forget his 2019 campaign prior to Lamb's arrival. That season, he finished with 66 receptions, 1,107 yards, and six touchdowns – he was the WR15 in half-PPR working as the No. 2 target, which is exactly the same role he could have in 2022 if he's healthy. Woods was traded to the Titans this offseason, which brings some question marks of its own, but in the three seasons prior to 2021, Woods has averaged 89 receptions, 1,096 yards, and just under five touchdowns. That's a real solid WR2 in any PPR league. So how should fantasy managers be handling these injured stars and who are the biggest beneficiaries if they miss time?

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Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin tore his ACL in Week 15 and had surgery on January 3rd, 2022. A 12-month timetable makes him pretty much irrelevant for fantasy managers this season. A 9-month timetable means he could potentially be ready for Week One; however, given the Buccaneers' goal of Super Bowl or bust, you can rest assured Tampa Bay will not rush Godwin's return. At the very least, fantasy managers should be expecting the former Nittany Lion to miss 2–3 weeks of the season and there's a possibility it could be even longer.

Right now, Godwin is ranked as the WR24 here at Rotoballer and he's coming off the board at WR22 at Underdog. Both rankings insinuate Godwin won't miss more than 3–4 weeks. For reference, DeAndre Hopkins who has been suspended for the first six weeks of the 2022 season, is being drafted as the WR37 at Underdog. Both have been valued as top-15 receivers the past few seasons so it's interesting seeing such a big difference in early rankings, especially with so many questions surrounding Godwin's status.

The backend WR2 ranking is quite the discount based on what Godwin did in the first 14 weeks of the 2021 season. He was the WR9 in half-PPR PPG during that time, so he comes with WR1 upside as long as he's healthy. At the current price tag of WR20–25, it could be worth gambling on Godwin's status, but that's exactly what it is – a gamble. However, no receivers being drafted behind have the same kind of reasonable potential and upside as Godwin has. Fantasy managers will need to determine how risk-averse they want to be.

The biggest winner here is Mike Evans and he should be treated as a top-12 receiver. He's a touchdown monster, having scored eight or more touchdowns in six out of eight seasons and has been in double-digits four times. In back-to-back seasons with Brady behind center, he's scored 13 and 14 touchdowns, which are the two highest totals of his career. He'll be Brady's unquestioned favorite target for as long as Godwin is out.

The real winner and value play at this time is Russell Gage. Last season, fantasy managers saw Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin all be fantasy-relevant and that was with Rob Gronkowski in Tampa. It might be assumed that Gronk will re-sign, but that hasn't happened yet. The Bucs are one of the most pass-happy offenses in the league, which leaves plenty of targets to go around where all three receivers can carry fantasy value.

Gage was effective last season in Atlanta and he's in a great position to succeed early. Even when Godwin comes back, Gage will still have value. Tampa passed the ball just over 43 times in 2021 and just over 38 in 2020. There's enough work available where even with Godwin on the field, Gage could still easily see 5–7 most weeks. That would leave him with around 100 targets from Tom Brady in a top-five offense. That's not the worst place to be and he could easily see upwards of eight targets per week for the duration of Godwin's absence.

Fantasy managers will have to determine how aggressive they want to be in regard to Godwin, especially so early this summer when we have such limited information regarding his injury status. If he only misses 2–4 weeks, the mid-WR20 price tag isn't anything to shy away from because he comes with top-12 upside when healthy. Evans has been a touchdown machine with Brady. Godwin's likely absence should cement him as a top-12 receiver again this season. Gage is likely the best-valued receiver in Tampa Bay and fantasy managers shouldn't forget about him in their drafts. He has WR2/3 value without Godwin and will still have some stand-alone value even with Godwin on the field.

 

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

While we can certainly have reasonable expectations for when Godwin will return, Thomas' return date is a blind guess. Thomas injured his ankle for the first time in Week One of the 2020 season. He would go on to miss the next six weeks before returning in Week Nine. He re-injured his ankle in Week 14 and would miss the rest of the season. The former Ohio State star opted for rest, avoiding surgery early in the 2021 offseason. Eventually, however, Thomas went under the knife, which put his 2021 campaign in question. An early setback was all that it took – before the season started, Thomas tweeted he would miss the entire season. Now, entering the 2022 offseason, there are just as many questions.

At this point, asking if Thomas will ever play football for the Saints again seems to be a fair question. Anyone who says they know is either Michael Thomas himself or lying. The offseason for the Saints has been a bit all over the place. For starters, they restructured Thomas' contract, which pretty much makes any kind of trade off the table. But the draft selection of Chris Olave and the signing of Jarvis Landry at least begs the question if Thomas is going to play this season and quite honestly, maybe the Saints don't even know, which is why they've been so intent on adding other pass-catchers.

If Thomas and Landry are both on the field, Olave's pathway to being a viable receiver during his rookie season is a bumpy one. Between Alvin Kamara, Thomas, and Landry, Olave would have a very difficult time commanding the kind of target share he would need to be fantasy-relevant. The short game of Thomas and Landry could open things up deep for Olave, who is expected to serve as the Saints' primary deep threat. That role could be a valuable one in best ball drafts when you don't need to make the conscious decision of starting him or not. In redraft leagues, however, if Thomas is on the field, Olave becomes more of a boom or bust option.

Landry and Olave are both going to be winners (obviously) if Thomas isn't ready to start the season, but if Thomas is on the field, there's no denying there's some overlap between Landry's game and Thomas's. They both work in the short and intermediate parts of the field, but they do so from different alignments. Thomas is primarily a traditional "X" receiver, while Landry lines up in the slot with regularity. Landry has good upside if Thomas is out, although that is mostly true only in PPR leagues.

Right now, Thomas is ranked as the WR32 here at RotoBaller and is being drafted at WR28 on Underdog. He was the cream of the crop with Drew Brees at quarterback and was one of the elite fantasy receivers from 2017–2019. That's two years ago now and Brees is long retired. With Sean Payton gone, Brees gone and Thomas not having really played in two seasons, it's more than fair to value him more as a backend WR2 than the top-12 receiver he used to be. The Saints shifted to a more run-heavy offense last season, which is also a concern. However, that's without even considering the injury concerns, which at this point are very real. There's a lot of risk drafting Thomas as your WR2 and one could certainly argue there's not as much upside as a risk at that spot.

Given the changes in New Orleans since the last time he suited up, giving him a ceiling of WR15 seems more than fair, especially with Olave and Landry in New Orleans, but the floor is another season where he doesn't play a down. Should that be the expectation? That's just it – we have no idea. The fact that he still has hurdles to jump through after more than a year away is incredibly worrisome.

 

Robert Woods, Tennessee Titans

Robert Woods tore his ACL in Week 10 and during the offseason, he was traded to the Titans from the Rams. The injury concerns create their own questions regarding his fantasy value going into the 2022 season, but his fantasy environment has taken a big nose dive. As far as fantasy-friendly teams go, the Rams were near the top, while the Titans are near the bottom, especially for receivers. For instance, A.J. Brown has only once finished as a top-24 receiver in half-PPR PPG and you won't find anyone who thinks Woods is better than Brown.

Fantasy managers have gotten more updates regarding Woods' status vs Gallup and Godwin, but the environment creates its own share of worries. The Titans were 26th in pass attempts in 2021 and 30th in 2020. They were dead last in pass attempts in 2019 and 31st in 2018. This is one most run-heavy offenses in the NFL and that's not going to change in 2022. To make matters even worse is the fact that Woods' target share has dropped every year since 2018.

Last year with the Rams, he had a 21.5% target share. In 2020, it was 23.0% and in 2019, it was 23.4%. His target share in 2018 was at 24%, so fantasy managers have seen a slow, but steady decline in his target share over the last four years and now he's going to one of the teams that offers some of the lowest passing volume.

In 2021, a 21.5% target share in Los Angeles would have resulted in 131 targets. In Tennessee, a 21.5% target share would have equaled 114 targets. That's a significant difference. The Rams' offense also had a 6.75% passing-touchdown rate, while the Titans were at 4.11% – another substantial difference. While Woods' target share dipped, he was also on pace for a career-high in touchdowns, which fantasy managers shouldn't be expecting in Tennessee.

Woods is ranked as WR34 at RotoBaller. However, he's being drafted as the WR49 at Underdog during the early season. With the low passing volume in Tennessee, his steady decline in target share, and the injury concerns, WR34 is much too high in my opinion. The upside in Tennessee is fairly low because of the volume. The addition of Treylon Burks and the signing of Austin Hooper give Ryan Tannehill a few more options in the passing game than he had last season.

Because of the concerns with Woods not only around his own injury status, declining skills, and unfriendly environment, fantasy managers should avoid him at his current ranking and instead wait to draft him until he becomes a clear value. Other players in and around his WR34 ranking present just as much upside without as many risk factors.

 

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17 after a challenging 2021 season. He missed eight games last year and racked up 445 yards and two touchdowns in nine appearances. His per-game averages amount to a pace of 841 yards and four touchdowns, but he was mostly working behind Lamb and Cooper. That stat line isn't so different than the one he had in 2020 when he was working as the clear third wheel again.

Fantasy managers can often with short-term memory so it might be a surprise to find out that Gallup went for over 1,100 yards as a sophomore and finished as a top-15 in 2019 using PPG and half-PPR scoring – overall WR20 finish. If he's healthy, that'll be the same role he's stepping into this season. Even as a third-wheel in 2020, Gallup was efficient, going for almost 850 yards on just 105 targets.

Whereas the other three receivers listed above are all still ranked as, at the very least, a WR3 at RotoBaller, Gallup is all the way down at WR79. Underdog drafters are being a bit more kind and selecting him as the WR51. Either way, the value and upside at those price points are outstanding.

The status of Godwin and Thomas is completely unknown at this point, but it seems far more likely Gallup will miss time early. He had the latest injury dates – Week 17 – and waited on surgery until early February. Nine months out from his surgery date would be early November and 12 months means he might miss the entirety of the 2022 season. That's definitely a valid concern, but with how cheap his price tag is, it might be worth the risk. If you have to have him sit on your IR all season, you're only out a super-late draft pick that most likely would've failed anyway. If he does come back though, you might just have a WR3 on your hands.

The fantasy community is pretty high on Jalen Tolbert taking over in Gallup's absence and there's a lot to like about his game. In his last two years at South Alabama, he had 146 receptions, 2,559 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He's got good size at 6'1 and 194 pounds and ran a very impressive 4.49 forty. He's an interesting prospect to be sure, but fantasy managers need to at least be cognizant of the fact he's a fifth-year player at South Alabama. The increase in competition from South Alabama to the NFL is going to be substantial and that might be putting it mildly. Expecting a third-round rookie to step in and produce on Day One while also having to deal with a drastic increase in his opposition's talent is quite optimistic.

The most likely scenario is that Gallup's absence will result in Lamb and Dalton Schultz being more heavily targeted. These two players should be favorites to have big early seasons with the lack of target competition and the pass-heavy ways the Cowboys' offense has operated since Mike McCarthy's arrival. The coaching staff could also choose to find more creative ways to get the ball in Tony Pollard's hands. While Tolbert will most certainly be involved because the depth chart at receiver is lacking, expecting fantasy-relevant play from him is something else entirely – tread carefully.



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Now that we've reached the point in the year where NFL teams are playing preseason games, we've also reached the point where teams are putting out their unofficial preseason depth charts. On one hand, these are unofficial. But on the other hand, it can be fun to read into things. So, let's do examine some... Read More


Derrick Henry - Fantasy Football Rankings NFL Injury News, DFS Picks

Updated Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

    Fantasy Football Rankings by NFL Position ALL - QB - RB - WR - TE - DEF Above you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings, tiers, player news and stats for your 2022 fantasy football leagues. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's fantasy football rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Fantasy Football PPR... Read More


Jakeem Grant Sr. Is Out For The Season, Who Will Replace Grant?

The Cleveland Browns signed All-Pro return specialist Jakeem Grant Sr. to a three-year, $10 million contract in the offseason in an attempt to improve their return game. Based on the contract, the Cleveland front office obviously prioritized upgrading the return game heading into 2022. Unfortunately, Cleveland got bad news when Grant went down during Tuesday's... Read More


Is Christian McCaffrey Healthy? Is McCaffrey Worth Drafting Early for Fantasy Football

After an incredible 2019 season, Christian McCaffrey has dealt with injuries both of the past two seasons. This was further amplified by the draft capital fantasy managers spent on him, which was in many cases the No. 1 overall pick. The disappointment these injuries created is hard to forgive and forget but 2022 is a... Read More


Wan'Dale Robinson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Wan'Dale Robinson - 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Sleeper and Undervalued Wide Receiver

It can sometimes be tricky trying to decipher whether or not a certain rookie player is going to be worth taking in fantasy football drafts. There aren't numbers to go off from a previous season in the NFL and some teams choose to deploy rookies differently than others. Amid all the uncertainty, Wan'Dale Robinson of... Read More


justin fields fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

NFL DFS Lineup Picks for DraftKings, FanDuel - Preseason Week 1 (8/13/22)

The NFL 2022 season is here. That means it is time for your season-long fantasy football drafts. But more important, right now, it is time to get back into our daily fantasy groove. In this article, I will be providing you with daily fantasy football picks on DraftKings and FanDuel for the slate on Saturday,... Read More


Chris Olave - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks - New Orleans Saints 2022 Outlook

Welcome to our fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the New Orleans Saints. With a new head coach for the first time in years and with a (presumably) healthy Jameis Winston under center, what can... Read More


Jahan Dotson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Is Jahan Dotson Worth Drafting? Fantasy Football Rookie Outlook

The Washington Commanders used their first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2022 NFL draft to select Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson stands 5'11" and weighs 183 pounds and will team with Terry McLaurin to give new Washington quarterback Carson Wentz two talented receivers to target. Dotson was the RotoBaller consensus rookie WR8... Read More


Najee Harris - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Injury Report For NFL RBs: Preseason Updates On Najee Harris, Antonio Gibson, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, James Robinson and Kenneth Gainwell

Below you will find our updated fantasy football injuries report for running backs in the 2022 NFL preseason as of Friday August 12th. The injury statuses for various NFL running backs are up in the air during training camp, including Najee Harris, Antonio Gibson, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, James Robinson, and Kenneth Gainwell. With peak draft... Read More


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