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Sammy Watkins: Value or Nah?

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Sammy Watkins: Value or Nah?
By Nick Adams @Grizz15E  with @HardKnock_FF

 

Seems like I’ve seen a ton of polls on Fantasy Twitter lately about Sammy Watkins. With each
poll, there ensues the requisite debate about whether he will break out this year or not. That got me
interested enough to look a little harder and make my own determination on whether he was being
valued appropriately among dynasty owners. Is Sammy Watkins worth what he costs right now, and
should I be buying before the price goes up? The answer for me is a hard no.


Before I tear Sammy down, I’ll use some of my military training and build him up a little. His
freshman and junior years at Clemson were off-the-charts good, and he set the Clemson career
receptions record in only three years. His first two seasons in Buffalo were good, averaging 62.5
catches, 1024.5 yards, and 7.5 TDs per season. At 6-1, 211 pounds with 4.43 speed in the 40, he appears
to have the physical tools to be a WR1. But I can’t bring myself to jump on the Sammy bandwagon that
appears to be gaining steam this off season (heading into the preseason now).


Let’s look at his current market value. Fantasy Football Calculator has his ADP in dynasty PPR
leagues at #48 overall, and the #22 WR. Last year’s WR22 was Nelson Agholor with 193.5 points. Let’s
be generous and say that Sammy only needs to get 185 points this year to achieve the #22WR ranking.
That takes 11.5 fantasy points per game. Put into real NFL statistics, 60-900-6 would get the job done.
That should be well within the capabilities of Sammy Watkins, right? Especially in “an Andy Reid
offense.” Well, let’s look a little closer at the facts on the ground.


First, Sammy does not have a history of spectacular fantasy production. Even in his best season
(2015), he finished as WR20—only two spots higher that his current ADP. Injuries have held him back
during the last two seasons (we’ll get into that momentarily), and he did not play with a great QB during
his tenure in Buffalo. Nevertheless, he has yet to consistently prove on the field that he is worthy of
being drafted as a WR2.


Second, as I previously alluded to, he has a disturbing history of injuries. He missed eight games
in 2016 (and was limited in several others) due to a fractured foot that failed to heal properly. That foot
required off-season surgery that further held him out of Bills OTAs until June 2017, when he resumed
individual activities. Even during his best season in 2015, he missed time with a calf injury before
catching fire in the second half of the season. It seems likely that this injury history weighed heavily into
Buffalo’s decision to decline his fifth-year option and ultimately trade him to the Rams during training
camp last summer. With a history like that—by the way, he suffered a concussion last year, too—the
chances that he misses time this year seem pretty good. I can’t afford to take that gamble.


Finally, many see his addition to the Chiefs as beneficial to his fantasy value. Maybe that’s true.
Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt all had good years last year. Of course, the flip side to that
argument is just that—the Chiefs have a veritable cornucopia of talented playmakers on offense, and it

seems unlikely that Sammy Watkins will put a major dent in their targets. Even the most optimistic
Watkins owner should know that Andy Reid’s teams have produced only five 1,000-yard WRs since he
became a head coach in 1999. One of those was Tyreek Hill last year. And who can forget the 2014
season in which the Chiefs under Reid finished an entire season without throwing a TD pass to a WR,
and caused Dwayne Bowe owners to give up the game altogether. Andy Reid is a West Coast offense
guy. His scheme lends itself to backs, tight ends, and quick WRs who can get open underneath and
generate yards after the catch. Sammy Watkins, although he possesses top end speed, is not
particularly quick in the short area as his 6.95 3-cone time attests. Compare that with Odell Beckham, a
2014 classmate who is known for his explosiveness after the catch—both players recorded 4.43 second
40 times pre-draft, but OBJ logged a 6.69 3-cone. Furthermore, QB Patrick Mahomes is in his first
season as the starter, and the Reid’s timing-based offense doesn’t seem like a great natural fit for
Mahomes’ talents, although I see Mahomes being successful in the long term.


Ultimately, I expect that Sammy Watkins’ market value will decrease early in the year because I
don’t expect a hot start from him or the Chiefs’ offense in general. Remember, Andy Reid turned over
playcalling duties to Matt Nagy during the Chiefs’ losing streak last year, and with Nagy gone to Chicago,
Reid has re-assumed those duties. I don’t see WR2 value in Watkins this year. With that said, I do think
he has future potential as a low-end WR2 and is likely to be available below that price somewhere
during the season if he doesn’t have a great start. So keep a close eye on him and be ready to deal for
him if his value falls this year.

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