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Sammy Watkins Fantasy Outlook 2018: Mid-Round Value or Benchwarmer?

Sammy Watkins Fantasy

Sammy Watkins Fantasy

When it comes down to Sammy Watkins fantasy outlook for 2018, it seems as though the fantasy Kool-Aid has run dry. Most of those who drank it for the past four years have finally thrown their cups on the ground and moved on to find other players to worship.

Watkins is entering his fifth season and finds himself on his third team, the Kansas City Chiefs. It is also the first time in his career that he is not expected to be the de facto number one receiver on the roster. That title goes to Tyreek Hill, who posted up WR1 stats in 2017. Because of this, Watkins’ ADP is lower than it ever has been. However, has his ADP fallen enough for him to be a fantasy sleeper, or is it time to just sleep on Sammy Watkins?

There still seems to be some discrepancy among the NFL fantasy community as to where Watkins should fall in drafts. Our Gridiron Experts staff rankings have Watkins in the between WR28 and WR30 range in our WR Fantasy Rankings, but he can fluctuate from the 18th best to 39th at worst at times.

There is a big difference viewing a receiver as a WR2 versus a WR4.

FantasyPros creates their ranking system based on consensus experts (four of which from Gridiron Experts) and as of right now; they have Watkins ranked as WR30 in standard scoring. MyFantasyLeague, which looks how drafting trends are happening right now, have him as WR24, indicating that there is still some Sammy love left.

Despite the variance, on average he is viewed as a WR3. The question remains: How well do you feel having Watkins as the third best receiver on your fantasy team?

Pontificating With A Gallon of Kool-Aid

Although Watkins seems like he has been around the league for decades, he has just turned 25 years old. According to an article written by Mike Braude on Apex last month, most wide receivers do not hit their age apex until 25, and “a more magnified peak is in the 25 to 29 range, where 54.6 percent of the season resides.”

Therefore, maybe Watkins has been dismissed too early, and his golden years are just about to come.

In 2017, Watkins seemed to have a bad year, as his 39 receptions and 70 targets were the worst of his career. However, if you look at Watkins’ efficiency stats on Player Profiler, his year was much better than many think. He had a +23.8 production premium and eight touchdowns, both of which were eighth best in the league. He also averaged 2.09 fantasy points per target, which was seventh in the league.

Now that he’s already with the Chiefs, Watkins is gushing with enthusiasm. He has admitted that he is now on “the brightest offense that [he’s] ever been in.”  He is also running more routes and being deployed in more ways during OTAs. Mahomes, unlike Goff, has been touted as a Faurvesque gunslinger, who isn’t afraid to throw the ball anywhere. This bodes well for Watkins.

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Kansas City’s defense in 2017 was disappointing as they had the sixth-worst yards-per-play defense in the NFL last season. They lost some key players during the offseason like Marcus Peters and Derrick Johnson, and on paper, their unit does not appear very strong for 2018. Therefore, they might need to rely on their loaded offense to keep the team in games. This could translate to more shootouts, which means more passing, with the potential for Watkins to see an uptick in targets.

The Empty Cup Rebuttal

Now that the Kool-Aid is finished and all that is left is an empty cup, the reality of Watkins’ situation becomes very real. And it doesn’t look good.

Sammy Watkins fantasyWatkins might like playing for an offense that shines brighter than anything he’s ever experienced before, but it is indeed bright with elite talent. Tyreek Hill proved last year that he was no flash in the pan, finishing as WR1 in receptions, receiving yards, and most importantly fantasy points. Travis Kelce was the best or second-best tight end in almost every category and finished as the top fantasy option for his position and 13th overall among all receivers. Kareem Hunt, as a rookie running back, had the fourth-most fantasy points. As a receiver, he also finished in the top 12 among running backs with 53 receptions. Unfortunately for Watkins, none of those three players have left.

Now figure in Watkins’ current WR30 ADP. So when was the last time a quarterback was able to sustain three 1,000 yard receivers in a season? It has only happened five times ever, and the last time it happened was a decade ago. In 2008, Kurt Warner threw to Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston, all wide receivers. The only time a quarterback had three receivers over 1,000 yards in which one was a tight end came in 1980 when Dan Fouts threw to Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, and tight end Kellen Winslow. By the way, Fouts threw for 4715 yards that year.

This brings me to my next statistic on rookie quarterbacks. As tantalizing as Patrick Mahomes projects in 2018, in order to sustain three receivers, he will have to break almost every rookie record. Andrew Luck holds the record for most yards thrown in a season, 4374, back in 2012. That same year, Russell Wilson tied the record for touchdown passes with 26. Peyton Manning managed to do it 14 years earlier. Speaking of Manning, during his remarkable 2013 season in which he threw for 5477 yards and 55 touchdowns, he was not able to sustain three receivers in the top 36, despite having Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas.

Good luck, Patrick. Good luck, Sammy.

Sammy Watkins Fantasy 2018

As much as we like to believe that talent always rises to the top, we have to be realistic with our expectations. Watkins could be an incredible value as your WR4 since it is possible that he supplants Hill as the Chief’s go-to-guy. However, it would be naïve to think that it will automatically happen, even with a 30 million dollar guaranteed salary at stake. Therefore, barring an injury to another significant receiver on the Chiefs, the chances of Watkins exceeding his current WR30 ADP is not very probable. For that to happen, he would have to defy NFL history.

So, in 2018, when determining whether the cup is half full or half empty for Sammy Watkins, maybe it is not the right time to raise his glass to toast the impossible just yet.


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