WR Sammy Watkins | Kansas City Chiefs | 5th Year
2017 Stats: 39 rec., 593 yards, 8 TD
Through four NFL seasons, Sammy Watkins has not delivered on promise along the lines of a No. 4 overall pick (2014). A late trade from the Buffalo Bills to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 put him behind the eight-ball, and outside of eight touchdowns he delivered disappointing numbers last year (39 catches for 593 yards).
But the Kansas City Chiefs upped the financial ante, signing Watkins to a three-year, $48 million contract to be a theoretical No. 1 wide receiver. Reviews out of OTAs have been good, from a strong rapport with new starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes to Watkins being used all over the formation in Andy Reid‘s offense and becoming a more complete receiver.
Watkins has been a good deep threat, averaging more than 15 yards per catch in every season of his career (15.9 yards per catch overall). He has also caught at least six touchdowns in three of four seasons, with size (6-foot-1, 211 pounds) to gain an advantage on opposing corners in the red zone.
In his 19 seasons as a head coach (entering his 20th), Reid has fielded a top-10 scoring offense 11 times. Last year’s Rams aside, that makes this Chiefs’ offense the best Watkins has been a part of. For the first time in his career, Watkins will have an offensive-minded head coach along with the prospect of a significant role.
But there a lot of other mouths to feed in the Kansas City offense. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt accounted for 290 targets last year, or a 53.7 percent target share. Albert Wilson‘s 62 targets (42 catches for 554 yards and three touchdowns) need replacing, and Watkins should easily step into that target share (ideally more).
In his entire 19-season run as a head coach (2018 will be his 20th), Reid has had just five wide receivers top 1,000 yards in a season-Hill (2017), Jeremy Maclin (2015), Terrell Owens (2004), Kevin Curtis (2007) and DeSean Jackson (2009 and 2010). Watkins has some chance to become the sixth, especially if he’ll be moved around to take advantage of mismatches in the slot.
Watkins is going off the board at WR29 (pick 6.12) in 12-team standard league mock drafts right now (Fantasy Football Calculator), with the expected bump down in PPR mocks (WR32, pick 7.02). That’s WR3 territory, which is right where Watkins belongs. But it’s not out of the question to see a low-end WR2 in 12-team standard leagues, even if it means closing one eye when looking at your cheat sheet on draft day.
Sammy Watkins 2018 Projection: 55 receptions for 855 yards, 7 TD
Bye: Week 12
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