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Fantasy Alert: Sammy Watkins 'Super Reliable' at Packers Practice, Aaron Rodgers Says

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 1, 2022

Sammy Watkins (Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

One of the biggest fantasy football mysteries ahead of the 2022 season is how the Green Bay Packers' passing game will look following the departure of Davante Adams, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have provided a hint after Thursday's practice.

Rodgers, the two-time reigning NFL MVP, praised veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins as someone who's earning his trust.

"I'll tell you what: Ever since the Saints practice, the first one, Sammy has been a different player. He's been super reliable," Rodgers told reporters. "Every practice he's made a bunch of plays. Today, made a bunch of plays again."

It's notable because the future Hall of Fame signal-caller hasn't been afraid to speak out publicly about wideouts not living up to expectations.

"The young guys, especially young receivers, we've got to be way more consistent," Rodgers said on Aug. 16. "A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We've got to get better in that area."

Watkins, 29, has battled nagging injury problems throughout an eight-year NFL career that began as a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

The Clemson product has flashed game-breaking ability when healthy, but he's also been maddening inconsistent, and there's no better example than his 2019 season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Watkins opened the campaign with nine catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. He didn't catch another TD until the AFC Championship Game more than four months later.

His upside combined with the uncertainty about how the targets will be divided in the post-Adams era in Green Bay make him an intriguing fantasy sleeper, though.

Right now, the Florida native has a Yahoo Sports average draft position of 129.8, which makes him WR No. 58 and means he's coming off the board after Odell Beckham Jr., who remains a free agent while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl.

Allen Lazard is a solid bet to lead the Packers in targets, but he's unlikely to match the 169 Adams received last year, so there will be plenty of work available for everyone else.

The downside for Watkins' fantasy value is the amount of competition. There are five other receivers with a realistic shot to earn meaningful playing time: Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Watkins has a strong start to the season, but one injury setback and he could lose his spot on the depth chart to one of the Packers' younger contributors.

Rolling the dice on him late in the draft and then trying to use him as a possible trade chip if his value peaks inside the first month could be the best play for fantasy managers.

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