Sammy Watkins 2015 – What’s Not to Love?
DFS Contrarian

We’re in the middle of making staff projections that will power some apps on the site and I thought I would take a break to mention some thoughts I had while projecting the Buffalo offense.

Sammy Watkins is probably a pretty talented player. But he wasn’t talented enough to warrant the picks that BUF gave up to select him. However, the odds are good for him to be a quality WR in the NFL.

However, his outlook in 2015 is shitty.

The problem that you have if you draft him is that you have to believe that Greg Roman and Rex Ryan actually want to pass the ball. Which is tough to believe based on their history. Here’s a comparison of some of the metrics that go into the Projection Machine if you show BUF 2014 side by side with an average of SF 2012-2014 and NYK 2012-2014.

Metric BUF 2014 SF/NYJ 2012-2014
PT.MGN -0.674 -1.318
PASSTEN 0.035 -0.066
NETPACE -0.099 -0.975
SKRATE 0.075 0.096
INTRT 0.022 0.029

PASSTEN is pass tendency. It’s the biggest thing to look at in that table. In 2014 the Bills were just slightly pass heavy. But both the Jets and the 49ers have been run heavy over the past three years. The other thing that matters for Watkins is the Bills’ pace. They could be run heavy if they would make up for it with pace like the Eagles do. But I don’t think you should expect that.

What’s more likely is that the Bills will try to go run heavy with a slow pace so they can keep their defense fresh and squeeze out wins in the way that the better Rex Ryan coached teams have done, and also in the way that the 49ers teams did when Greg Roman was there. One thing that I don’t consider in the above table is that the Bills play in the same division as NE and MIA, who both run a lot of plays and thus will likely force BUF to run slightly more plays.

When I plug the two sets of averages above into the Projection Machine I get the following scenarios.

NYJ/SF 2012-2014 1007.98 0.51 512.04 49.16 462.88 0.49 495.94
BUF 2014 1023.6 0.61 620.68 46.55 574.13 0.39 402.92

You can see that using the BUF 2014 settings there are more than 100 more pass attempts than under the hypothetical Rex Ryan/Greg Roman mix. That’s not good for Watkins.

If that was the end of Watkins problems it wouldn’t be great. But BUF also made two personnel moves in the off-season which all provide increased competition for touches for Watkins. Percy Harvin and Charles Clay will both contend for passing targets. They also traded for LeSean McCoy although if I call him increased competition for touches as well it’s essentially double-counting the point I made above about the Bills being run-heavy. However, the addition of Harvin and McCoy do signal an intent to run the ball. Harvin is a running back playing receiver.

Players can make up for lack of volume with uber-efficiency. But as I mentioned the other day, that path usually involves an elite QB, which the Bills also don’t have. Our composite projections will be out soon and although I don’t know for sure where Watkins will end up yet, I suspect his WR18 price tag is a little rich right now.

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