Fantasy football season is just around the corner, which means drafts have begun, mock drafts are in full effect, and degenerates everywhere are preparing for the season. Every year, there are a few rookies that have fantasy value, not just in dynasty leagues, but in redraft as well. Last year, we saw Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, and even guys like Cordarrelle Patterson and DeAndre Hopkins contribute in year one. Who will it be this year?
This is part four of a 32-part series, where one offensive rookie from each team will be analyzed, and their fantasy value will be determined. Each player’s ADP, college statistics, depth chart status, and more will be broken down, and a proper value will be placed on each player.
Without further ado, part four of Rookie Profiles. Meet Sammy Watkins, wide receiver from the Buffalo Bills.
Weight: 211 pounds
On draft day, the Bills traded this year’s first and next year’s first round pick to move up for Watkins, so if nothing else, the plan is obviously to get him the ball.
Watkins has been one of the more debated prospects in the NFL draft community, and the fantasy football community for a few reasons. Those who watch the games, and study the players from tape and watching live football generally think Watkins is the next big thing, the next Julio Jones, or even Dez Bryant. While those who generally use statistics and metrics to predict success of draft prospects are lower on Watkins.
There is a common ground, however. Everyone agrees that he is a good wide receiver, and that he will make an impact. Some just differ on how good he is. Not many think he is going to be a bust, and not many think he is going to be a superstar. But, that is all irrelevant now, because we know the situation he is in, and that is as the Buffalo Bills number one receiver.
Watkins had a terrific career at Clemson, and only had one season as the number one target, so that says a lot about his playmaking ability. In three seasons, Watkins caught 240 passes for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also was able to carry the ball 52 times for 339 yards and one touchdown. Clemson used Watkins most on go routes and quick screens, utilizing his speed and playmaking ability. That is not all he can do, however. Watkins proved that he’s a crisp route runner on multiple occasions, and has an innate ability to find the ball in traffic, which is contrary to popular opinion.
Watkins is without question the number one receiver for the Bills, regardless of opinion, a team would not spend two first round picks on a player who was not going to contribute right away. Now, can he make the most of his situation in Buffalo? E.J. Manuel is no Peyton Manning, but he is just a second year player. Now Watkins is not in the best of situations, but the fact remains that the Bills will get him the ball often, which makes him a great option in fantasy football.
The former Clemson star is currently being drafted in the seventh round or later, depending on your league size at 77.4 as the 31st wide receiver selected. Is that too high? Is it too low? That remains to be seen, but considering he will likely lead the Bills in targets and is being selected after Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Julian Edelman, and Emmanuel Sanders, that shows that his value could possibly be high at his current ADP.
Last year, Robert Woods played in 924 snaps as the number two receiver for the Bills (since Steve Johnson was injured), so expect Watkins to play in over 1000 snaps. That would give him an opportunity to run a route around 500 or more times, and most of the time, the number one receiver receives the most amount of targets (Johnson was targeted 95 times in just 12 games) and the most opportunities for fantasy points. Expect Watkins to be a big part of the Bills offense, whether you like him or not.
Projection: 57 catches for 875 yards and five touchdowns, 15 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Statistics via College Football Reference, NFL.com, ProFootballFocus