The last Buffalo Bills receiver to finish as a top-10 fantasy wide receiver was– drumroll please…
Lee Evans (2006).
Buffalo is looking to change that, as they heavily invested in the best wideout in this year’s class, Sammy Watkins. The team traded two first round picks to move up and grab him, and being the most polished receiver to enter the league since A.J. Green, Watkins looks to be a player that can give this team that push to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the longest drought in football. But should fantasy owners be excited about Watkins in year one?
Because Buffalo gave up so much to acquire him, as well as trading Stevie Johnson, Watkins is going to immediately be their number one receiver, soaking up all the targets. You don’t invest that much in a guy if you aren’t planning on unleashing him. Watkins is really, really fast, and is absolutely deadly after the catch, so there is some serious upside, for sure. He also should see some solid volume, as Buffalo very quietly ranked third in the NFL in plays per game last season (69.8).
I’ll be honest. I love Watkins and I love the Bills, but there is a lot to dislike here. First of all, rookie wideouts don’t have a good track record for fantasy. Only Keenan Allen and Green posted 1,000 yards in their rookie year since 2005. Also, Buffalo won’t throw the ball a whole ton, as they led the league in rushing attempts last year, while ranking 23rd in pass attempts. I think EJ Manuel has potential, but he’s deep ball accuracy is inconsistent, which could hinder Watkins’ upside a bit. Also, Watkins caught 57 percent of his passes at or behind the line of scrimmage last year, while the Bills ran a wide receiver screen 0.7 percent of the time (via Pro Football Focus), which tied for the third-lowest in football. They should adjust a bit to accommodate Watkins’ skill-set.
Watkins is going to be an awesome player in the NFL for years to come, but for fantasy purposes in 2014, I’d pump the brakes a bit. Buffalo isn’t going to throw it a ton, rookie wideouts typically see limited targets and the position is just so deep in the first place, that it’s difficult to need Watkins unless you are in a deeper league.
Bye Week: 9
Projected Round: 8th-9th
Auction Value: $6 (via ESPN)