Watkins was an absolute stud at Clemson, and he will be thrown onto fantasy radars as the NFL season slowly approaches. In 2013, Watkins totaled 101 receptions for 1,464 yards, averaged 14.5 yards per catch and caught 14 touchdown passes. It is interesting to note that he was heavily involved in the return game his freshman year and actually had 231 rushing yards his first year on the field. The Bills will limit his role to just a wide receiver to prevent injury, but it is good to know that he does have this dual-threat ability.
The Bills ranked 28th in passing yards in 2013, so adding extra weapons for E.J. Manuel was a huge priority in this draft. Watkins is now instantly the best receiver on the team, as his only competition is recently signed Mike Williams. Rumors are swirling that Stevie Johnson will be put on the trading block, so everything is in the making for Watkins to really stand out. Even though he is the main man in Buffalo, should you pick him in your draft?
The first issue I have with drafting Watkins is that his name will be constantly brought up by every fantasy analyst and radio show host ad nauseam. The guy in your league whose main research is looking at a fantasy magazine for five minutes and listening to a podcast on his way to the draft will think he is finding the next Calvin Johnson in Watkins, and he will reach for him as early as the third round. Trust me, this is going to happen. The Bills are betting the future on the former Clemson star, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing for your team.
The other reason I wouldn’t draft Watkins too early is the fact that the fantasy community just can’t rely on how Manuel will play. We weren’t able to see enough of him his rookie year to make any solid opinions, but I think it is a little too risky to draft a talented wide receiver with an unproven quarterback. Would I draft Watkins after the 10th round? Absolutely. Would I place any pick before that on him? No way.
Last year, I was really high on Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon, Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson as sleepers. Obviously two of those guys whiffed, but Gordon and Cameron finished first and sixth at their respective positions. I thought that it was foolish people were scared away from Gordon just because he was suspended for two games, and I was able to nab him well past the 10th round in almost all of my drafts. Even though the training camp reports really hyped up Cameron, Thompkins and Dobson, I didn’t spend early round picks on any of those guys, so I wasn’t in trouble when Thompkins and Dobson tanked. Cameron ended up as a nice investment at the beginning of the season. You can find talented players that aren’t overly hyped up if you do the research.
The point is that when you think one of the best wide receivers in college football is going to instantly be a fantasy star, so does most of your league. Watkins is an immense talent, but he is on a shaky offense with an unproven quarterback. I would much rather spend my early picks on proven commodities than risk them on a flashy lottery ticket.
The talk of the NFL in 2014 could be about the potential Manuel-Watkins show, but I am not willing to risk it.