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Sammy Watkins to the Chiefs – Fantasy Spin

Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have a new running mate in their receiving ring, and this guy has the talent to be the best of the bunch…or an Achilles heel that could make him the biggest fantasy flop of the threesome.

The Kansas City Chiefs upgraded their pass-catching corps by signing speedster Sammy Watkins to a three-year, $48 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus. Watkins parlayed a mostly-healthy 2017 season (he missed one game due to a concussion) into a monster contract, even though he only caught 39 passes for just 593 yards while being arguably the fourth-best option in the St. Louis Rams passing attack. This is how the NFL has been this offseason when it comes to gifting outrageous contracts to receivers coming off mediocre years, although Watkins is more deserving of multimillions than many others who have inked deals in recent weeks.

Watkins’ first two NFL seasons were fantastic fantasy-wise as he hauled in 125 passes for 2,029 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has had more foot problems during his career than Stephen Curry, though. He has missed a dozen games and parts of others over the past three seasons due to his injuries. Watkins has had more problems keeping his body together than President Trump has had keeping his cabinet together. So will Kansas City be the home of a new Watkins Glen International Speedway of sorts? Here are the positives and negatives of Watkins coming to K.C.   

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Points in the Positive Column for Watkins

The Alex Smith Era is over in K.C., which is wonderful news for Watkins since Smith never did his wideouts any fantasy favors due to his lack of downfield passing prowess. New starting signal caller Patrick Mahomes has a cannon for an arm and should have no trouble tossing 50-yard javelin strikes to Watkins. Put one point in the positive column for Watkins.

Watkins will not be double-covered as often as he has in the past because the aforementioned Hill and Kelce will likely command double-coverage first from defenses. Watkins can burn one-on-one coverage quicker than I can burn a bagel in the microwave, so this will be Watkins more dangerous than ever when it comes to breaking big plays. Put another point in the positive column for him.

Watkins has the same home run ability that Hill possesses on the outside. He can fly downfield and keep defenses backpedaling when he runs fly routes or post patterns. This terrific tandem could be the Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton of the NFL when it comes to hitting home runs downfield, and you know head coach and offensive guru Andy Reid will put Watkins in positions where he can hit grand slams. Three points for Watkins.


Points in the Negative Column for Watkins 

The Chiefs should have an interesting offense lined up for 2018 with Kareem Hunt and the returning Spencer Ware at running back and the Watkins-Hill-Kelce trifecta forming one of the top trios among receiving factions. Watkins was able to haul in eight touchdown passes in St. Louis’ top-ranked scoring offense last season, but probably had his fantasy value stunted because there were so many playmakers to spread the ball around to. He could be in a very similar situation in 2018. Kansas City had the sixth highest-scoring offense in the NFL last year, and both Kelce and Hill had over 100 targets. Finally! A point in the negative column!

Changing uniforms will not make Watkins any more durable. Fantasy owners will still wince every time he is tackled for fear of another foot injury or concussion. Unless there is something special in the Kansas City barbecue that strengths his bones, muscles and ligaments, Watkins’ fantasy value is always iffy due to his checkered injury history. This is another strike against him.


The Final Verdict

Watkins is a high-risk, high-reward fantasy player. When he is healthy he has proven he can be a difference maker who can rack up 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. When he is healthy but not the No. 1 option in his team’s passing attack, he has shown he is probably good for 700 yards and eight touchdowns. And when Watkins is banged-up, he is good for nothing but ruining the championship chances of the fantasy owners who have him on their rosters.

Watkins is a player fantasy owners should view and value as a No. 3 WR on their fantasy squad. You have to make sure the other receivers on your roster are dependable because you cannot be 100 percent sure what you will get out of him and how long he will last before he is knocked out of action.

We also do not know how good and how consistent Mahomes will be in his first season as a starting quarterback. If Mahomes comes out of the gate throwing like Andrew Luck, Watkins’ fantasy stock will rise. If Mahomes looks like an Akili Smith clone, Watkins’ fantasy stock will plummet.

There is no reason to overspend to grab Watkins in auction leagues or take him in the higher rounds in drafts. Get him with the idea that he is good for 800 yards and eight scores but that he has a high ceiling and a low cellar. Do not bank on him being your No. 1 or No. 2 receiver and then you will be pleasantly surprised if he has a 1,000-yard year…and not as disappointed when he spends six weeks on the sidelines.


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