Sammy Watkins was supposed to be one of the best wide receivers in his draft class, but the problem in 2014 was that he was limited by his quarterbacks, Kyle Orton and E.J. Manuel.
But despite inconsistent quarterback play, Watkins still recorded promising stats: 65-982-6.
When the team decided to sign Tyrod Tylor in 2015, it also seemed like Watkins’ value was limited. Taylor didn’t have much experience as a starter behind Joe Flacco, and he was known for being a mobile quarterback in college.
But once again, Watkins had another solid year, even though he only played in 13 games: 60-1,047-9.
The concern with Watkins, though, is that he still isn’t 100% healthy after a foot surgery he had a little over three months ago. But Watkins is currently a late third-round pick, and if he could continue to progress like he did last season, he could be a steal.
Here’s a review of his outlook, as well as the rest of the receivers to keep on your radar for the Bills in the 2016 Fantasy Football season.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Sammy Watkins
Seemingly, the biggest issue Watkins will have is Taylor not throwing a lot of touchdowns. In 14 games, Taylor only threw 20 touchdown passes.
But the good news is that when Taylor does throw the ball, he’s targeting Watkins most of the time. Last season, Taylor and Manuel combined for 3,596 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes.
Watkins caught 39% of those touchdown passes, and he finished with 29% of the passing yards last year.
And even though Taylor only averaged 2216.8 passing yards per game, Watkins still had five games with 100 or more yards. What’s also nice to see for fans of the 23-year old receiver is how he improved his stats in 2015 even though he played in fewer games.
There are two causes of concern though in drafting him: Watkins’ health, as well as his limited targets in the red zone.
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) August 4, 2016
Last season, Watkins and Robert Woods tied for the 130th-most targets in the red zone. Each receiver only received seven targets. Touchdowns are already fluky, and it’s especially concerning when a receiver has to rely on most of his production from outside of the red zone.
How many touchdowns outside of the 20-yard line can Watkins score on a consistent basis?
With Watkins, his health to start the season is also a concern. While he passed his physical, Fantasy players still have to be cautious about Watkins opening the season. Just because a player is recovered from an injury, it doesn’t mean they are in football shape right away.
But as a third-round pick, Watkins certainly has the upside to provide you with a great return on your investment. Watkins finished as a top-20 receiver in PPR leagues in 2015 playing in just 13 games, so he could have been closer to the top 10 if he had played in a 16-game season.
I would prefer to land Watkins near the start of Round 4, but I don’t have any problem with drafting him near the end of Round 3. Watkins has as many question marks as the other receivers being drafted near him (Kelvin Benjamin, Demaryius Thomas), so he’s as good of a receiver as you’re going to find in that round.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Robert Woods
When Watkins’ status was looking a little more uncertain in the summer, I was drafting Woods in a lot in my MFL10 drafts. (Editor’s Note: Make sure to review this winning MFL10 lineup before your next draft.)
Woods has yet to earn his second-round draft pick status from the 2013 NFL Draft, but I was adding Woods because this team doesn’t have a lot of depth. It still doesn’t have a lot of depth at the receiver position, so if anything does happen to Watkins, Woods is still a great late-round pick in MFL10 drafts.
His production will be sporadic if Watkins is in the lineup and healthy, but I always like targeting a few guys who could potentially give you three to four huge games as opposed to completely swinging for the fences on a guy like Kenny Bell. In a 16-game season, four games is 25% of all of your matchups. So even if Woods is just useful for four games, that could make a big difference if those four games occur when your receivers you normally rely on don’t have great games.
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And as I mentioned earlier, Woods tied Watkins for the most red-zone targets last season. He also had the second-most targets in 2014, so even though its sporadic, Woods still has upside because of how often his quarterbacks look for him inside the 20-yard line.
I wouldn’t draft him outside of MFL10s if Watkins (you could also back Watkins up with Woods as an insurance policy) seems ready to play. But if anything happens to Watkins between now and Week 1, make sure to pounce on him on waivers.
The rest of the receivers for the Bills aren’t worth targeting unless something happened to Watkins and Woods. If that did happen, the most relevant receivers would most likely be: Dezmin Lewis, Greg Salas, or Leonard Hankerson.
The Bottom Line: There are risks involved with Sammy Watkins: Tyrod Taylor doesn’t throw a ton of touchdowns, and Watkins is roughly three months removed from surgery. But Watkins has the same type of upside as the other receivers being drafted near him in Round 3. If you can draft him in Round 4, I like that even better. Robert Woods is only worth drafting in season-long leagues as an insurance policy to Watkins. In an MFL10 format, he’s worth drafting near the end of the draft because of the few big performances he can have.
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