Sammy Watkins Is a Sneaky Fantasy Football Value After the Chiefs’ Offseason Moves
The Kansas City Chiefs will look to defend their Super Bowl title in the upcoming season and it will be done with nearly the same roster. They added one running back through the draft -- Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- and didn't add any notable skill positions players in free agency.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce lead the way for the Chiefs' receiving options, but Sammy Watkins is the number two wide receiver and isn't getting any love. Watkins has an ADP of 149.3, according to BestBall10s. That is far too low, as he is one of the winners of the Chiefs' offseason.
2019: Lacking Production
Watkins was anything but consistent in 2019, much to the dismay of fantasy football owners everywhere. He missed two games with a hamstring injury and failed to record a touchdown after recording three in Week 1. All of this led to Watkins finishing the season as WR50 in PPR formats. The lack of production on a weekly basis will drive fantasy football owners crazy, and Watkins was the near definition of that in 2019.
Even when teammate Tyreek Hill missed four games due to a shoulder injury, Watkins was unable to produce anything near noteworthy, ending with 27 targets, 14 receptions, 164 yards, and 0 touchdowns. It was a golden opportunity for Watkins as the de facto number one wide receiver on the Chiefs, and he wasn't able to capitalize on it.
He did, however, turn things around in the playoffs, with 18 targets, 14 receptions, 288 yards, and 1 touchdown. Was that a flash in the pan or a sign of his true potential?
Same Place, No New Faces
In 2019, the Chiefs targeted their wide receivers a total of 293 times -- or 52.4% of the time they passed the ball -- which was the eighth-lowest rate in the league. Alongside that, 19.9% (16th in the league) of their targets went to running backs, while the remaining 27.7% (fifth-highest) went to tight ends.
Of the 293 targets that went to wide receivers, Watkins (90) led the team, with Tyreek Hill (89) right behind him, and Demarcus Robinson (55) was a distant third. While there is plenty of talk surrounding Mecole Hardman during the offseason, his role is still unclear, so he's worth a look in dynasty leagues.
During the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chiefs added a single offensive player to their roster in running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. This means the Chiefs are set to have the exact same wide receiver personnel as they did last season, which should be an encouraging sign for Watkins and potential fantasy owners. He has an established role in the offense and actually thrives when the team is fully healthy. We saw Watkins' best games when Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Demarcus Robinson were all on the field.
Those games came in Week 1 (11 targets, 9 receptions, 198 yards, and 3 touchdowns), Week 9 (10 targets, 7 receptions, and 63 yards), and Week 14 (8 targets, 4 receptions, and 50 yards).
Reasons For Optimism
Being directly tied to Patrick Mahomes is a boost any NFL player would want, and Watkins is no exception. Mahomes finished the 2019 season with the second-highest Passing Net Expected Points per drop back (0.31) and the third-highest Passing NEP (153.05) overall. He is in the elite class of NFL quarterbacks and can seemingly create yards or points out of thin air.
The Mahomes-to-Watkins connection showed its true potential in the playoffs last season with an average of 96 yards, 6 targets, and 4.6 receptions per game. That is the potential you are getting for when you draft Watkins, but you don't have to reach for him in fantasy drafts.
Watkins holds an ADP of 149.3 in 12-team leagues and is WR58 in those drafts. He is essentially free at his current price, and you are getting a wide receiver -- albeit inconsistent -- who is directly tied to Patrick Mahomes.