He didn’t set the lofty standard for himself that came with being a top-five draft pick. The Bills did that after making a stunning trade with the Cleveland Browns to vault from No. 9 to No. 4 overall to select Watkins. By paying the exorbitant price of first- and fourth-round choices in 2015 to make the climb, they instantly identified him as the primary solution to making EJ Manuel look much more like the first-round quarterback he didn’t look like as a rookie in 2013.
Fair or not, Watkins had to live with that label and the expectations that came with it. Ultimately, his 65 catches (tying him with Robert Woods for second on the team behind the 66 of running back Fred Jackson) for 982 yards and six touchdowns didn’t come remotely close to fulfilling them. Manuel was benched after four games, and the Bills proceeded to miss the playoffs for a 15th consecutive year.
Worse for Watkins was the fact that, in a draft packed with superb receiving talent, he took a seat many rows behind Odell Beckham Jr., who caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns for the New York Giants, the story said. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin and Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans were also having more productive seasons and all those guys were taken after Watkins in the 2014 NFL Draft. Watkins is also behind the above WRs in our rankings for this season, coming in 30th. We project a much better season for Watkins (75-1,027-5.9), who has a QB situation more in question than the above players. He's shaping up to be a mid-range WR3 for fantasy teams and could benefit more with some QB stability.