• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Dynasty Dilemma: Christian Watson

 

Summer is flying by! It dawned on me the other day as I made plans for the fourth of July. Baseball diamonds and water parks will soon give way to the crisp autumn air that will usher in another football season. But before we get there, we fantasy managers have some tough decisions to make. Lucky for you guys our Dynasty Dilemma series will help to break down those tough to evaluate players so that you know who's name to call and who to avoid during your league's draft.

Christian Watson's struggles to start last season are well documented. Perhaps more famous for the sure fire touchdown that he dropped opening weekend, Watson watched while his teammate, Romeo Doubs became one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers go to playmakers. Watson caught just 8 passes during the first month of 2022 and could be found on most waiver wires when injury befell the aforementioned Doubs. You savvy managers already know this story. It's a tale as old as Fantasy Football. You must have an opportunity to produce and boy did Watson take advantage of his opportunity. His last eight weeks read like a misprint. 31 receptions, 523 yards and seven touchdowns. He pushed more than a few of his managers into the fantasy playoffs while leaving an indelible impact on the 2023 fantasy season. So it's a no-brainer! Watson is someone you can't leave your draft without, right? Right?

REASON TO BUY

Ideally the Packers would like Watson to play the Z. This would afford him the opportunity to utilize his speed, thus opening things up underneath for newly minted starting quarterback Jordan Love. This seems to be playing out in camp but more on that later. Love has the arm strength to reach Watson downfield, though the former second round pick is more than just a big play threat. We've already documented the final eight weeks that followed his opening month struggles, but the final stat-line: 4 catches for 65 yards and .9 TDs per game extrapolate to 68-1,105-15. One helluva rookie year! And while those touchdown numbers are obviously unsustainable, he was a true WR1, leading the Packers in targets share and red zone target share. And while I'm sure you've already seen one hyperbolic stat after another tossed around this summer, one of the best metrics used to predict future WR success is rookie-year YPRR (Yards Per Route Run) and Watson (113.7) ranked third just behind two of his more heralded classmates, Chris Olave (121.9) and Drake London (116.8) and can be had for a fraction of their cost.

REASON TO SELL

Fellow second year WR Romeo Doubs has been getting a lot of hype this offseason. In fact ESPN's Rob Demovsky, who has long covered the Packers, reported Tuesday that Doubs "Has seemingly become quarterback Jordan Love's go-to guy." And while there's obvious appeal in those big plays authored by Watson, those over the middle catches tend to make an impact, especially in PPR leagues! Of course the elephant in this receiver room is Jordan Love. The Packers four time MVP has taken his talents to the Big Apple and left an entirely unknown quantity behind. Love has just 83 career pass attempts since entering the league, his range of outcomes is as wide as the Grand Canyon. We also don't know what we'll get from Matt LaFleur.  With Aaron Rodgers leading the fight for their playoff lives every week, the Packers ranked in the top half of the NFL in rush attempts per game. If LaFleur opts for an even more run-oriented approach, the volume of pass attempts alone could prevent Watson from seeing the kinds of numbers his surging ADP would suggest.

VERDICT

Watson possesses an alluring combination of size and speed and showed improved route running and catch strength over the season's final two months. It's hard to not get caught up in the jaw dropping big plays that he can make look routine. But there are multiple questions that we simply don't have answers for. The Packers are going to have first or second-year players starting at all three receiver spots and tight end. Love is entering his first year as a starter. And maybe he will hit the ground running much like Rodgers did when he took over for Brett Favre, but even if that scenario plays out, can you really be sure if Watson, Doubs (who finished 2022 dead even in targets) or maybe even rookie Jayden Reed would be the biggest beneficiary? If you believe in Love and you're hell bent on getting a piece of this offense, my advice is to pass on Watson, whose dynasty ADP has catapulted to the 23rd WR off the board and draft someone like Brandon Aiyuk or Treylon Burks, who go several spots after Watson. This would allow you to come back and pick up Doubs for a fraction of the cost.
But then I'm reminded of one of my favorite coaches' favorite sayings... How did it go? Something about risking it and there was a biscuit involved I think. Ah yes. No risk-it no Biscuit! Go get your guy!

SELL