The Buffalo Bills have not exactly been known for producing great receivers lately. Buffalo hasn’t seen a top ten fantasy football receiver since 2006; however, the Bills are hoping to end the drought this season after trading their first and fourth round draft picks in 2015 to the Cleveland Browns to grab Clemson stand-out Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins with the fourth-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Bills fans are excited to have Watkins on their team, and he is arguably the most well-polished receiver to come out of the draft since Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green came out of Georgia in 2011. The odds may be stacked against the rookie; but if any one can do it, Watkins can.
Watkins can expect to be targeted by second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel a lot this season. The Bills gave up a lot to draft Watkins and traded receiver Stevie Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason, so Watkins will be the number one receiver in the offense immediately this season and get the majority of the targets. Watkins is also a huge threat after he catches the ball because of his break-away speed, so fans can expect a good number of yards after the catch from the young receiver.
Despite his speed and reliable hands, Watkins has a big downside that is discouraging fantasy owners from drafting him too early. Buffalo is not exactly suited for the success of Wide Receivers: the Bills ran the ball more than any other team in the NFL in 2013, while they ranked only 23rd in the league in pass attempts. On top of that, the Bills very rarely run Wide Receiver screens (tied for 30th in the NFL), while Watkins caught more than half of his passes at or behind the line of scrimmage during his 2013 season at Clemson. The Bills will definitely need to make some adjustments to better suit the offense for Watkins.
Watkins also has history working against him: wideouts in the NFL don’t typically do well during their rookie season. In fact, since 2005 only San Diego Chargers receiver
Keenan Allen and A.J. Green have managed at least 1,000 yards during their rookie season. If Watkins doesn’t follow their example, his value as a fantasy football receiver would be greatly diminished.
All things considered, Watkins is expected to have a great NFL career; however, his rookie season may not be a good indicator of that. Defenses know how dangerous Watkins can be, so he will most likely be lining up against the best cornerbacks in the league this season. Watkins will most likely see the most targets on the team, but in Buffalo that’s still not a lot.
Watkins really could be drafted anywhere in your league because of all the hype and uncertainty around him. You could probably get some value out of Watkins if draft him around the eight or ninth round. Don’t jump on Watkins too early this coming season; but if you can snag him late in the draft, he may just be worth the pick.