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The WR Prospect Great Eight: (1) Sammy Watkins vs. (8) Davante Adams

NCAA Football: Colorado at Fresno State

(1) Sammy Watkins vs. (8) Davante Adams 

RotoViz favorite Davante Adams took down Jordan Matthews in the toughest match-up of the first round. Watkins was not to be upset by the 16 seeded Sleeper Jeff Janis. Adams has a full head of steam heading into this match-up. Will it be enough to propel him into the Final Four or will Watkins’ top seed hold up?



My model has these two in a dead heat, but based on ADP I’ll easily take Adams. If Adams can sneak into the first round of the May draft that’d be a huge boost to his value. Based on my study on 6’1-6’2″ WRs, college TDs play a huge factor in predicting which guys hit and which guys miss. Adams is probably the best TD producer in this entire WR class.



Davante Adams gets boned by the committee with this second-round matchup. I like both of these guys a lot, but would you rather a) take Sammy with the 1.01, or B) trade down and get Davante + player X? This might seem odd since I’m on record as saying I wouldn’t take Watkins with the 1.01, but I’ll take him here. The hit rate for productive college receivers taken in the first ten picks is just much higher than for receivers taken anywhere else. If you trade down, you basically get Davante + one or two lottery tickets. But if I’m sitting in the 4th or 5th spot, I’d be happy with Davante and wouldn’t trade up for Sammy either. I’m taking Watkins by the slimmest of margins because they’re similar receivers and he’s less likely to bust.



Everyone likes a good Cinderella story, and with that in mind I cast my vote for Adams. Now, I’m not saying that Adams is that Cinderella story. I’m merely saying that if Adams miraculously wins the day, I want to be the guy who gets to wave his arms in the air (like he just doesn’t care) and boast saying, ʺI TOLD YOUʺ



Watkins and Adams grade out very similarly for me before weighing in draft position. They’re nearly identical in terms of stature, athletic and overall production score. Adams was in a weaker conference, but
also played one less college season. Adams has small hands, but his play doesn’t show that being an issue as he’s the Clark Kent in this draft class. He gets big in the football phone booth, catching as many red zone touchdowns (19) as Watkins had red zone targets in college with one less year. Watkins scored 20 of his 29 college scores from over 30 yards out, something that is problematic if he can’t score in the red zone in the NFL. In a close call, I’ll side with Adams since he won’t cost you a top two rookie pick.



Based on a data set going back to 1999, my WR model gives Watkins about a 90% chance of having at least one top-30 season within his first 5 years. In other words, historically, about 90% of the guys who’ve looked like Watkins (had good speed for his weight, decent production before entering the NFL, and a first-round status) have had at least one top-30 season within their first five NFL seasons. That might not sound sexy, but what I’m saying is that I think he’s not very likely to bust entirely. But I’m also sure that Watkins’ potential limited downside alone isn’t worth a top-3 pick. Davante Adams, meanwhile, also fits the historic profile of the 90% top-30 guys . . . as long as he’s a first-round pick. If he drops to the second round, he’ll have a historic chance of a little over 70% to become a top-30 WR. If he slips to the third or fourth round, his historic chances go down to a little over 50%. Right now, I’ll assume that Adams will be a second-round pick — which means that I think Watkins floor in comparison to Adams’ is more solid. Now, I lurve Adams, so I’m going to hate myself for what I’m about to say — but I also think that Watkins’ ceiling may be higher than Adams’. Watkins strikes me as a little bit of a better Torrey Smith, and I think a better Torrey has top-10 potential. Adams strikes me as a smaller Anquan, and a smaller Anquan (to me) has top-20 (but maybe not top-10) potential. So I think that Watkins is the superior prospect — and in a vacuum I’d choose him over Adams. But, again, Watkins will cost a premium pick, while Adams will likely cost only a pick at the bottom of the first round. In other words, literally, last year’s winners will be the guys picking Adams. And making picks like that is how they became winners in the first place. Adams.



I’m going to say that I think some of the other writers are making a mistake in calculating the odds on this one. We know that there’s a high certainty Watkins goes to a team that wants to get him the ball. We know he has the requisite athleticism to be good. We know he’s been a productive college player since he was 18. Adams has been very productive but I think if you ask whether Watkins could have also torn up the competition that Adams did, you would almost have to say that he could have. I’m not really a fan of the way that Watkins did get the ball at Clemson, and I do think that presents some issues in terms of being a real more-than-screen-catching receiver, but despite having to rely on a heavy number of screens, Watkins still scored a number of touchdowns with an average TD length of over 40 yards. Which is crazy. If I were an NFL team I would never burn a top 10 pick on a screen catching receiver – Why would you? They’re not doing anything to get open themselves, which means that after they catch the ball you still have to do things to get them yards – but as long as NFL teams are going to give the ball to the after the catch crowd, I think you can’t ignore them in fantasy. On the Adams side I think there’s just a lot more uncertainty regarding his situation. Whereas we know Watkins isn’t getting out of the top 10, Adams could easily be an end of 2nd round guy. That would impact his odds of a fantasy breakout I think.



I agree with what Fantasy Douche says above. My number 1 rule in fantasy football is “Opportunity trumps talent.” I think many people overlook this. Teams won’t be spending a high draft pick on Sammy to sit him on the bench. While Watkins is not my ideal prospect, he and DeAndre Hopkins are very similar players as Jon Moore pointed out here. It’s not like Sammy is just some scrub. My biggest red flag on Sammy is his unimpressive vertical of 34 inches. I generally like my WRs to be in the 37″ or higher range. Adams has a lot of the things I look for in a WR prospect. From a value standpoint, he is more palatable than the cost of Watkins. The TD production is on an elite level, but because of an unknown draft slot, you don’t know when that opportunity will come. To me this pick really comes down to personal preference and dynasty team needs. If your team needs talent with multiple picks then I would take the value in Adams as an arbitrage play. However if I am in the top 3 and being forced at that pick to choose between Adams and Watkins I would have to pick Sammy. I wouldn’t be happy about it but that would be the choice.



Watkins and Adams battle down to the final shot in this match-up. In the end Watkins being slightly over-rated and Adams being a better value seem to be the deciding factors. Sometimes in life you get what you pay for. There are reasons things are cheaper in life. This decision will be no different for fantasy ballers come draft time. Both players have a few red flags. You just have to decide which ones you are willing to deal with and at what price. With two similar prospects, price wins out here.

If you are forced to spend a top 3 pick on either of these two prospects in your dynasty draft, who would it be? Let us know in the comments section. Our updated bracket is below.




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