Watkins fantasy stock may be pushed too
high, making bargain hunting owners look elsewhere.
As someone who was all in on Sammy Watkins in 2014 and 2015, I would
love to tell you how great of a fit he will be as the No.2 WR with
Patrick Mahomes. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.
The reality is that Watkins hasn’t produced enough on the
field. Although he did finish with eight touchdowns last season,
he saw just 70 targets and caught only 39 passes. Proponents of
Watkins will point out that he was traded late in the off-season
and never really had a chance to develop a rapport with his teammates.
I respectfully disagree.
Watkins was traded to the Rams on August 11th. He had a full
month to integrate himself into the offense. When Watkins arrived,
he was the clear cut No.1 wide receiver…or so we thought. His
only competition was journeyman Robert
Woods and gadget man Tavon
Austin. There was nothing standing in the way of Watkins and
greatness. Then, Sean McVay and an improved offensive line turned
the entire offense around. Jared
Goff broke out and turned the Rams into the No.1 scoring offense
in the league. Yes, the Chiefs were an excellent passing offense
in 2017 as well. But I pose this simple question: If Watkins couldn’t
even post WR3 numbers playing in the league’s top offense, why
should we be bullish on his prospects in Kansas City?
I am a believer in Mahomes and think the Chiefs are going to
be a force to be reckoned with for the next few years. However,
Mahomes is going to be in his first year starting and has had
a year of practice with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Watkins
failed as a No.1 option in Buffalo and failed in Los Angeles.
Now in Kansas City, he is the clear No.2 behind Hill. This is
definitely a better spot for him and while I do think he has the
potential to be fantasy relevant, there is going to be an overreaction
when it comes to Watkins that inflates his draft stock higher
than he can realistically perform.
Watkins struggled to separate last season, posting a 1.38 target
separation total, which was 66th in the league. His 55.7% catch
rate was coincidentally also 66th in the league. His 64.3% catchable
target rate was a deplorable 99th in the league. He did have a
115.9 QB rating when targeted, fifth in the league, and his 8.5
yards per target was 28th, so it wasn’t all bad, but Watkins
isn’t the player we all thought he would be in 2014. This
is a lateral move, at best, for Watkins. I would love Watkins
as my fourth or fifth receiver but will pass on him as fantasy
As for Tyreek Hill, I don’t think this changes much. Arguing
that the addition of a second receiver will help or hurt the first
receiver seems like an empty argument because it can go either
way. On the one hand, you could say Watkins will take targets
away from Hill. On the other hand, Watkins will free up Hill to
face more single coverage, which is the last thing opposing defenses
want to do.
Last season, the Chiefs operated essentially without a No.2
WR - it was Hill and Kelce and then everyone else. This year,
the “everyone else” part should be consolidated into Watkins and
because of his name, Watkins will likely demand more attention
from opposing defenses than DeMarcus Robinson, Chris
Conley, or Albert
Wilson ever did. I don’t anticipate Watkins’ presence to affect
Hill’s target count much. I still think Hill deserves more than
the 102 targets he saw in 2017, but even if he doesn’t top that
number, it’s difficult to imagine him not at least matching it.
Watkins’ downfield ability should at minimum command some respect
from opposing defenses to the extent that keying in solely on
Hill will be a gamble as Watkins is still capable of making plays.
The biggest variable in Kansas City will be the play of Mahomes.
As long as the kid is up to the task, Hill, Kelce, and the rest
of the fantasy options in Kansas City will be just fine.