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In my weekly column, we take a long look at impact fantasy football rookies.  I compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them.  Let’s continue this 2014 version of samwatkinsthe series by looking at one of the best receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft, Sammy Watkins.  I will look at some of his college production against his performance versus the Dolphins to dissect his dynasty value.

These are my thoughts after watching him in college: He has everything you wants in a receiver: hands, contorts himself to find the ball, great after the catch, skies to get the ball, creating space, and gets off the line with little issues.  Of course, in college there were not many corners that played with the physicality to match Watkins.  The Clemson receiver got used early and often mostly running short routes and bubble screens, but played big with his great athleticism and the best catch radius of his class. His usage in the screen game took the place of an active running game.  With a strong armed quarterback in Tajh Boyd, they built the chemistry for him to run under a lot of passing in stride for a lot of 50+ yard touchdowns.  I found him to be simply the best play maker in his class. Watkins is not a huge physical receiver, but he has enough quick twitch moves to separate from most NFL coverage.  In the right pass first offense, the young receiver could average 80+ catches, 1200 yards, and 7-9 touchdowns per season.

Against the Dolphins: Watkins lined up all over the field: on the single receiver side, in the slot, and sometimes tightly by the tackle like a wingback would.  It’s a shame he is playing with the likes of Kyle Orton and EJ Manuel.  These quarterbacks are not accurate and do not get him the ball in stride very often. This seems to be particularly frustrating to Watkins with his precise route running. He adjusts well to passes thrown behind him, but it keeps him from making plays in stride to create additional yardage after the catch.  The Buffalo coaching staff tried to get creative by faking him on a reverse in the first quarter to freeze a defender and then gave him a reverse in the fourth quarter that only went for a minimal gain.

For most of his targets, the rookie receiver faces bracket coverage which means a corner back will have safety help over the top to prevent him from making long receptions.  This bracket coverage helps create space for other pass catchers underneath like Chris Hogan.  Watkins can overcome tight coverage and can beat the jam off the line of scrimmage getting to full speed quickly.  The rookie got a step on his coverage in the fourth quarter, but the pass sailed ten yards beyond his route.  His effort waned as the game got more out of hand.  Watkins owners should note that his best games occur when Fred Jackson is on the field, giving defenses more concerns.

There is nothing in his game that I saw that makes me reconsider my high opinion of him (a top eight dynasty wide receiver).  Watkin’s abysmal three catches for 32 yards will not help you win any fantasy matchups this season though, but it may lessen his trade value for the less astute.  The problem is the Bills quarterback situation will probably not improve in 2015 after trading away their first round draft pick.  Wait around and see if you can get him for a late first round rookie pick in the offseason.

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