The Case Against Sammy Watkins
In the 2014 NFL draft, Sammy Watkins was selected before Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, John Brown, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, and Donte Moncrief among others. I isolated those names because I would rather have any of them on my team over Watkins. A fantasy commodity does not score points for measurables or potential. With a relatively high ADP, I will not be drafting Watkins in any format. I see this season playing out very poorly for him.
The most obvious of Watkins’ issues are his injuries. His toughness is not on trial, as he has played through multiple nagging issues. Mike Rodak at ESPN put together a list of injuries suffered so far in Watkins young career. The term, injury-prone, is a hotly contested label which I do not feel will ever be agreed upon by all parties. No matter what side of the argument you fall upon, it cannot be argued that Watkins does seem to be injured a lot and has unfortunately earned the aforementioned moniker. He was able to piece together a solid 2015 fantasy season while playing in 13 games. I am not willing to use my 3rd pick on a player who feels like a ticking time bomb, however. His offseason broken foot, shrouded in mystery, has gone through multiple diagnostic iterations. We found out in May that he had surgery in April. We were told that he may be ready for training camp. Later, the news read of a Week 1 target. Now we are being told Watkins will be practicing shortly, which is being portrayed as great news. Injuries can be an inexact science, but this situation, especially the actual cause of the injury, is far too questionable for my liking.
The Buffalo Bills do not strike me as a stable organization right now. Word after 2015 illustrated Rex Ryan pleading for a second season. Many see him as a lame duck and the hiring of his much-maligned brother, Rob, illustrates his desperation. Rob has failed many times in the NFL, but the despair I write of is more based on trust. When your job is on the line and those close to you must have your back without question, you hire your brother or the like.
A contract extension for Tyrod Taylor just completed. Organizations do not typically pay starting QBs $2M a season as Taylor was slated to make until very recently. You could say this is savvy management, but when it comes to the QB position, you do not play games like this. The Bills are fortunate this situation played out without incident.
The Bills could implode in 2016. I do not trust this situation enough to ignore the negative momentum.
As is commonly the case for amateur athletes, the events surrounding Watkins’ 2012 drug possession arrest do not sounds heinous by nature. Allowing yourself to be in such a situation in the first place does, however, show an extreme lapse in judgment.
In Week 8 of his rookie season, Watkins displayed no acumen, and an embarrassing lack of self-control on the grandest stage for an NFL player; on the field. You may recall him slowing down to celebrate a would be 90 yard TD at the 15-yard line, only to get tackled by a pursuing defender at the 5. Immature and silly. I won’t condemn Watkins for this kind of mistake, but it has helped paint the picture of who he is for me.
Prior to his explosive end to the 2015 season, Watkins was not playing well and battled injuries throughout October. Clearly frustrated by his play and the perception fans and media were painting of him, Watkins decided to show the world an unfiltered look into his psyche. The details of his quickly deleted Instagram post are mean-spirited, immature and downright ugly.
Watkins’ broken foot this summer could be a result of hard work and training. It could be a lingering result of stress injuries from 2015. It could also be a result of tomfoolery and irresponsibility. The issue is that we don’t know. Why not get out ahead of it and own the story from the beginning? I have not heard a lot of chatter about this, and that is bothersome. NFL injury secrecy is a common practice, but this one makes no sense. Even if Watkins recovers well and looks good in the coming weeks, the scars of this questionable scenario will stick in my memory.
As a fantasy owner, I want good players on good teams if possible. The last thing I want is an injury-prone, potentially great player, known to make poor decisions, employed by an unstable team. The talent is undeniable, but too many negative factors are pulling Watkins down for me to consider drafting him.