Fantasy Impact: Sammy Watkins Traded to the Rams

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 11, 2017

Sammy Watkins to the Rams has a lot of fantasy implications.

Sammy Watkins has been traded to the Rams. Let me be clear, this was not an article I thought I’d be writing today. Or ever. It’s one that came with a flurry of other news, but this move has massive fantasy implications. In return for Watkins and their 2018 sixth-round draft pick, the Bills receive cornerback E.J. Gaines, as well as the Rams second-round draft pick in 2018.

The Bills had Watkins on the field for quite a bit in Thursday’s preseason opener, targeting him on the first three pass plays, and five times in total netting four receptions for 39 yards against the Vikings strong secondary. It was confusing as to why they kept him on the field as long as they did, especially when he came up a little gimpy earlier in the week during practice. We now know that they were auditioning his health, which apparently worked.

Need more advice? Get access to our Draft Kit and Draft Wizard tools >>

The Deep Ball

From a fantasy perspective, this is far from ideal for Watkins, who goes from Tyrod Taylor, who can throw the ball a country mile, to Jared Goff, who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn last year. On passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air last year, Goff completed just 4 of 17 passes, while Taylor completed 19 of 58 of them. Goff’s 8.3 completion percentage on deep balls was better than only Blaine Gabbert‘s in 2016.

So Goff doesn’t throw a great deep ball. This is going to naturally limit Watkins’ ceiling in fantasy, as he has relied on the deep ball to produce massive fantasy numbers. Back when he was healthy in 2015, Watkins totaled 606 yards and eight touchdowns on passes that traveled over 20 yards in the air. The yardage ranked second to only Allen Robinson, while his eight touchdowns led the league.

The Forgotten Talent

Now that we’ve established our concerns, are there any positives? Well, Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft for a reason. Most said he was pro-ready and could do almost everything above average. He was considered a clear-cut franchise quarterback. While that obviously didn’t pan out in year-one, he was thrown into a less-than-ideal situation. The Rams offensive line was among the worst in the league and his head coach Jeff Fisher has always run one of the league’s most vanilla offenses. Compared to what Goff was doing at Cal in college, it was a massive change to go through, and then to be thrown into the fire and start for a team that was clearly not a contender.

Reason For Hope?

This offseason, some of those problems have been addressed. The Rams obviously fired Fisher last year, and then brought in the youngest coach of all-time, Sean McVay. During his time as an offensive coordinator with the Redskins, McVay got the most out of Kirk Cousins and the passing game, as they finished top-12 in passing yards each of the three seasons. Even more importantly, they finished top-10 in net-adjusted-yards per pass attempt in each of the seasons as well. This bodes well for Goff and the offense. Not just the addition of McVay, the Rams went out and acquired the top offensive lineman in free agency, left tackle Andrew Whitworth. This is a massive upgrade over the turnstile they had at left tackle last year with Greg Robinson who graded out as PFF’s No. 73 tackle among the 76 who were graded. Whitworth was No. 3 on that same list.

So we’ve now got an upgraded offensive line and an upgrade at head coach, specifically with the passing game. Taking a look at the other talent on the Rams roster, you have recently acquired Robert Woods who also comes from the Bills, rookie Cooper Kupp, and the failed project at wide receiver Tavon Austin. Every single player that was just mentioned fits a slot role and not much else. Watkins is going to be targeted, a lot.

The quality of targets won’t be as good as they were in Buffalo, but it’s likely that he receives a bump in projected targets. As mentioned, McVay’s offense has typically been pass-heavy while ranking in the top 20 for pass attempts every year (even with a combination of Robert Griffin/Colt McCoy/Kirk Cousins in 2014). Even if we stick to the low end of that range (20th), we’re looking at roughly 560 pass attempts. When there is an alpha like Watkins in an offense (he clearly is), they are typically in the 23-27 percent target share range. If that were the case, he’d be looking at anywhere from 128-150 targets. Some may say that Watkins is off their board because of this trade, but you shouldn’t be one of them. He should be drafted as a low-end WR2 who has game-breaking potential. Remember, you’re betting on McVay just as much as you’re betting on Watkins or Goff.

If you’ve missed any of the player profiles that have gone up, I urge you to check them out right here.

SubscribeiTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE $3 Best Ball entry with your 1st deposit
FanDuel photo
Play for your share of $1m+
for FREE with first deposit
CBS Sports photo
Serious Fantasy Football
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
2Dion Lewis (NE)RB
3Jerick McKinnon (MIN)RB
4Latavius Murray (MIN)RB
5Jay Ajayi (PHI)RB
6James White (NE)RB
7Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
8Stefon Diggs (MIN)WR
9Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
10Brandin Cooks (NE)WR
 View all Flex Rankings 
11T.J. Yeldon (JAC)RB
12Rex Burkhead (NE)RB
13LeGarrette Blount (PHI)RB
14Alshon Jeffery (PHI)WR
15Corey Clement (PHI)RB
16Nelson Agholor (PHI)WR
17Danny Amendola (NE)WR
18Chris Ivory (JAC)RB
19Corey Grant (JAC)RB
20Marqise Lee (JAC)WR
21Chris Hogan (NE)WR
22Allen Hurns (JAC)WR
23Zach Ertz (PHI)TE
24Dede Westbrook (JAC)WR
25Kyle Rudolph (MIN)TE
26Jarius Wright (MIN)WR
27Torrey Smith (PHI)WR
28Keelan Cole (JAC)WR
29Laquon Treadwell (MIN)WR
30Kenny Britt (NE)WR
1Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
2Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
5Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
6Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
7Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
8Joey Votto (CIN)1B
9Kris Bryant (CHC)1B,3B
10Chris Sale (BOS)SP
 View All Rankings 
11Manny Machado (BAL)3B,SS
12Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
13Corey Seager (LAD)SS
14Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
15Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
16Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
17Daniel Murphy (WSH)1B,2B
18Nelson Cruz (SEA)RF,DH
19George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
20Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
21Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
22Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)1B,DH
23Josh Donaldson (TOR)3B,DH
24Yu Darvish (FA)SP
25Robinson Cano (SEA)2B
26Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
27Miguel Cabrera (DET)1B,DH
28J.D. Martinez (FA)RF
29Madison Bumgarner (SF)SP
30Jose Abreu (CWS)1B,DH
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C