Well sometimes life comes at you fast. Blockbuster trade went down Friday afternoon as the Buffalo Bills sent Sammy Watkins and 2018 6th round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J Gaines and a 2018 2nd round pick. I figured who else to write about this then a guy who grew up and lives in Bills country. First and foremost before we get into the dynasty portion of the article we will breakdown the football side of it. Sammy Watkins went 4th overall in arguably the best WR class of all time to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills gave up the 9th overall and 1st and 4th round picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up five spots to acquire Watkins. In a draft with so many elite WR’s the trade almost four years later looks idiotic but at the time not everyone saw it that way. The Rams are no stranger to moving up to get their guy either. Just a year ago the Rams gave up six draft picks to trade up to take Jared Goff. I suppose what we can learn from a dynasty perspective on this is that giving up future draft capital for players who haven’t played an NFL down yet doesn’t always work like we had hoped.
So let’s get into this as much as it pains me to not see Sammy Watkins put on a Bills jersey anymore I wanted to break down what this trade means. Specifically for dynasty because it’s very rare we see a WR of his caliber traded. Starting with the basics look at Watkins numbers.
|2014||16 G||65 Rec||982 Yds||15.1 YPC||61.4 YPG||6 TD|
|2015||13 G||60 Rec||1047 Yds||17.5 YPC||80.5 YPG||9 TD|
|2016||8 G||28 Rec||430 Yds||15.4 YPC||53.8 YPG||2 TD|
It’s not breaking news Sammy has only played one full season since being drafted in 2014 and the injuries appear to have gotten worse. Watkins has had everything from rolled ankles to a tear in his hip which he’s played through. Before the 2016 season he broke his foot had a screw inserted and ultimately had two surgeries that cost him all but eight games last season. Let’s not act like this is surprising from Sammy anyone who has followed him knows even at Clemson he had injury trouble. Watkins finished his college career at Clemson with 240 receptions, 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns. Watkins only was able to play 10 games his sophomore season but in the two he played full seasons he had 183 receptions, 2,683 and 24 touchdowns. Moral of the story when Watkins is healthy he’s elite the problem is keeping him on the field.
So just how good is Watkins? In his first two NFL seasons he totaled over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in 29 games. The wake up moment for dynasty owners was his 9 game stretch in 2015. Watkins finished the last 9 games of 2015 with 70 targets, 49 receptions, 900 yards, 7 touchdowns and five 100 yard receiving games. Insert big eyes emoji here those numbers are flat out ridiculous and with a quarterback that has never thrown for more than 20 touchdowns in a season. Watkins was misused for the most part in his time in Buffalo, it never helped playing with a run first QB in an extremely run heavy offense. Watkins seemed to be used as a deep threat WR with both Greg Roman and the short time with Anthony Lynn and he is so much more than that. Watkins has the same potential we see in Odell Beckham Jr. who is a prime asset in dynasty leagues and not just speaking as a fan but people who compare the two would tell you that Sammy might be every bit as good as OBJ.
The Bills finished as the top rushing offense in 2016 and dead last in pass attempts. Somehow still finished as the 10th best scoring offense. In 2015, Watkins’ only 1,000 yard season the Bills ranked 31st in pass attempts. It’s more than fair to think the Bills misused Watkins when healthy. He wins in many ways not just on the deep ball but that was his role in the run heavy offense which was most effective in 2015 when he finished with 17.5 yards per catch the highest of his career. In fairness to the Bills it’s tough to incorporate a player into the game plan no matter how good he is if he’s not on the field.
Now we shift to the Rams a team that fired Jeff Fisher and hired young offensive guru Sean McVay. McVay known as a great game planner in his time as the Redskins offensive coordinator offers some hope to the lackluster Rams offense. The Rams who finished 32nd in the NFL in scoring, averaged only 14 points per game and accounted for a disappointing 14 total touchdown passes needed a huge makeover in 2017. McVay loved to stretch the field in Washington with tight bunch sets also he mixed up rushing from shotgun and pistol formations which should help both Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. Bringing in Watkins is a huge addition for a young offense that wants to attack defenses which is the complete opposite of what the offense did in 2016. Watkins ability to expose cornerbacks one on one is a huge boost to the running game. Todd Gurley seemed to be a one man show in 2016 and it wasn’t a good show at all.
Sammy adds an explosive dynamic to a young Rams offense but I think this trade in a one year window is a downgrade for Watkins. I’ll start here the Rams offensive line was abysmal giving up 49 sacks last season and in Jared Goff’s last 7 games as the starter he was sacked 26 times. This isn’t going to be good for any young QB we all saw what that did to David Carr and he was never the same. This brings me to the young gunslinger Goff, he was pretty bad as a rookie finishing last in the league in air yards per attempt and just 7.1% of his completions were on throws over 15 yards. Goff also was under pressure a lot as I previously stated and didn’t handle that well either his QBR was 37.4 which ranked 33/34 qualifying quarterbacks according to PFF. I do realize that Jeff Fisher is not the guy you want coaching your team especially with a young quarterback and I do firmly believe the switch to McVay will do wonders alone for Goff but for those who always bagged on Tyrod Taylor for hurting Watkins value this situation year one with the Rams is not what you were hoping for. Now I never believed Goff was going to be very good in the NFL but I’m also in the minority of thinking Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly good either and Sean McVay made him into an above average quarterback. What I do like about Goff is his constant improvement he took a 1-11 Cal team in college to an 8-5 bowl game winner by the time he left and improved his passing totals in every season. Great sign for Sammy is if Goff can get back to his college production where he completed almost 44% of his deep throws.
There is a big part of me that thinks the Rams possibly really wanted to make a splash playing in L.A and having a new stadium being built which played a factor into them acquiring Sammy Watkins. On a potential one year and walk trade there is some major risk involved for the Rams if things go bad in L.A but even in that scenario that shouldn’t affect Watkins value in dynasty one bit. Most likely why the Bills moved on from Watkins is because they possibly saw a potential breakout coming for him in a contract year and with their cap problems didn’t wanna risk not being able to afford him or his injury risk. I think we as dynasty owners have seen this over and over again when players are in contract years they seem to light the league on fire.
Things I love about Sammy Watkins to the Rams, well he is an elite WR he makes plays and getting together with a young brilliant offensive mind like McVay can prove to be a perfect fit. A young talented offense who has a chance to build for the future and as bad as they were passing last year Kenny Britt still managed a 68/1002/5 TD stat line. I don’t need to tell you how much better Watkins is then Britt. I truly believe that McVay will use Watkins in a feature role and his dynasty value continues to rise the more he plays. Robert Woods and Tavon Austin are nothing more than other options in that offense and won’t come close to the targets Sammy should see on a regular basis. The benefit of Gurley being a feared feature back helps Watkins get more one on one coverage especially off play action.
Things I hate about Sammy to the Rams, well where do I start? Jared Goff has to get better so quick and Watkins will play a huge role in that. Defense,defense, defense Sammy will have the toughest schedule for a WR1 this season, also Watkins will have to see both the Seahawks and Cardinals twice a year who both ranked in the top 10 in passing yards per game in 2016. The Rams offense is just flat out not good it starts up front but as a dynasty owner I’m holding out hope that a talented WR can help change that quickly. It seems rare that a WR1 who is traded this close to the season starting who has to learn a whole new system and playbook would be successful. If there’s a guy who can do it Sammy Watkins is that player.
This has gone on quite long enough I’m very high on Watkins as a player injuries and all. I wanted to give an instant reaction on the huge trade. Feel free to call me a homer on twitter although I would prefer if you just called me a Sammy Watkins truther. If anyone is selling I would go get Watkins for what I could feel free to use the negative talking points in this article as a reason they should be selling. This is dynasty and I’m going down with the Sammy Watkins ship no matter how long it stays afloat. I’m willing to trade any first round pick for Watkins straight up he is a guy I would be buying anywhere and everywhere.