Sammy Watkins' Depressed Draft Cost Makes Him a Worthwhile Target in Fantasy Football
Once the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft, Sammy Watkins never quite lived up to the hype in Buffalo or Los Angeles. He dealt with injuries in Buffalo and underutilization with the Rams, and as such, Watkins eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards just once in his first four years.
For the second time in two years. Watkins enters a new offense loaded with pass catchers. While Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt will all demand targets, Watkins retains the lowest standard-league average draft position (ADP) of the group at 6.06, per Fantasy Football Calculator.
Likely to command targets of his own, Watkins may present the best value in Kansas City for 2018.
With Alex Smith (surprisingly) leading the NFL in deep passing a year ago, the Chiefs should transition seamlessly to former air-raid passer Patrick Mahomes. Per Pro Football Focus, both Watkins and Hill succeeded deep down the field in 2017. However, Watkins has provided a more consistent deep threat throughout his career based on average depth of target.
Hill, in particular, is due for negative regression after all of his last 13 touchdowns have come outside of 30 yards. In 2017, only 4 of Hill's 105 targets came in the red zone (5.6% red-zone target share). Watkins saw more diverse usage last season, with 10 of his 70 targets coming in the red zone (12.8% red-zone target share).
The Chiefs have reportedly moved Watkins all over the field, which could allow him to improve on his 70 targets from a season ago and see more red-zone usage than Hill.
Last season, Kelce led the Chiefs in target share at 24.7%, with Hill coming in second at 21.3%. In the Rams' offense, Watkins finished third in target share with a 14.0% share.
The Chiefs, however, paid Watkins like a number-one receiver. The 2018 wide receiver free agency class featured names like Allen Robinson and Paul Richardson, but neither was paid like Watkins, who signed a three-year contract for $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed. Per Spotrac, Watkins ranks as the fourth-highest paid receiver in the NFL based on average annual salary.
It stands to reason that Kansas City didn't give Watkins big money to have him be an afterthought on offense. Yes, the Chiefs have a lot of weapons, but Watkins will likely be a key figure.
In 2017, only 11 teams featured two pass catchers with more than a 20% receiving yards market share, and no team featured three guys over 20%. With Watkins joining the fray, Hill or Kelce could see a decrease in looks in 2018.
The addition of Watkins could cap the value of all three of KC's premier pass catchers -- Kelce, Hill and Watkins. If Hunt commands anywhere near his 63 looks (11.6%) out of the backfield from 2017, targets will only be further condensed.
But at 6.06, Watkins is the cheapest of the bunch. For comparison, Hunt, Hill, and Kelce check in at 1.10, 3.04, and 3.10, respectively.
With no clear number-one pass-game threat, taking the fourth-highest paid receiver in the sixth round could be a winning strategy in 2018.