Christian Watson Fantasy Football Outlook: Rookie Has Clear Path To Becoming Packers’ No. 1 WR
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Packers rookie WR Christian Watson
- Our fantasy football expert Samantha Previte teamed up with longtime NFL GM Randy Mueller to forecast expectations for Packers rookie WR Christian Watson.
- Find his landing spot grade, pre-draft evaluation and more below.
Who Is Christian Watson?
by Samantha Previte, fantasy football analyst for Action
Christian Watson hit the jackpot in the 2022 NFL Draft, even though he had to wait until Day 2 to hear his name called. The North Dakota State product was the seventh receiver off the board by way of the Packers’ in-draft trade with the Vikings for the No. 34 overall pick, finding himself on an immediate contender.
Watson has all the traits of a superstar in the making.
His father, Tim Watson, was actually drafted by the Packers in 1993. And his brother, Tre Watson, was an All-American linebacker at Maryland.
Pedigree aside, Watson’s build and athleticism are what separate him from other prospects. The former Bison stands at a towering 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, which alone will create defensive mismatches. His wingspan measured just shy of 6-foot-6, and his hands measured 10 and 1/8 inches.
Watson turned heads during drills at the combine, clocking a lightning fast 4.36-second 40-yard-dash and an impressive 38.5-inch vertical jump.
He has a solid route tree and can line up inside or outside, return kicks and can be deployed in designed runs.
Watson draws some criticism from scouts for being a raw, undeveloped talent (perhaps reminiscent of concerns about Jordan Love, who came from a non-Power 5 program).
In spite of his freakish athletic abilities, his experience at the FCS level may create a sharper learning curve to refine his route-running and adjust to the speed of play at the NFL level.
Christian Watson Fantasy Football Outlook
by Samantha Previte, fantasy football analyst for Action
Landing Spot Grade: A+
In a very on-brand move, the Packers passed on a receiver in the first round, continuing a 20-year tradition of doing so. The good news for them is Watson does have glimmers of first-round talent, which they desperately need after losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason.
The landing spot for Watson is ideal. He will be catching passes from four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who tossed 37 touchdowns last season and passed for more than 4,000 yards for the fourth-consecutive year. Rodgers, 38, and Adams, 29, had a strong connection for many seasons, which resulted in back-to-back top-two fantasy WR finishes in fantasy for Adams.
Though that chemistry will be difficult to replicate, Rodgers offers Watson one of the highest ceilings in the immediate term.
With Adams and Valdes-Scantling gone, Watson will face very little competition from the Packers’ receiving corps. The team made minimal moves during free agency, inking veteran Sammy Watkins, who joined receivers Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and tight end Robert Tonyan on the Packers’ depth chart.
Lazard, 26, was a distant second to Adams in receiving last year and caught 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. And Cobb, 31, tallied 28 catches for 375 yards and five touchdowns. The jury is still out on 22-year-old Amari Rodgers, who was a third-round pick last season and was used primarily as a punt/kick returner in his rookie campaign. Tonyan, 28, is recovering from a season-ending ACL tear.
Watson has a clear path to becoming the Packers’ No. 1 wideout among this crew, but he will likely have to prove himself to Rodgers first.
2022 Fantasy Potential: WR2/3 upside
The lack of competition and quarterback strength make Green Bay a very attractive landing spot for any receiver — both for redraft and dynasty.
I hesitate slightly because it may take a while for the FCS star to refine his raw talent to the NFL level and create a rapport with the sometimes mercurial Rodgers, which could diminish Watson’s immediate impact for fantasy.
Christian Watson Pre-Draft Evaluation
by Randy Mueller, former NFL general manager and team executive
Watson played in a run-oriented attack at the FCS level and for a perennial power (four-time FCS champion). What the NFL sees in Watson will not be what is recorded by production on paper, though.
Watson is big, he is smooth and he is fast. He runs by smaller slower defenders consistently at this level, but his 4.38-second 40 is transferable to the NFL with the vision and potential that most scouts have. He is light on his feet and is clearly the fastest guy on the field. He can adjust to balls outside his frame and his catching skills seem to be on par with NFL standards.
What you won’t see is an all-encompassing route tree or a passing game that gives him experience reading coverages or processing on the move. That said, Watson is raw, but with big upside because of his talent. He will, however, have a learning curve with details of route running, exposure to playing against top notch opposition and — maybe most of all — a totally different speed of the game in general.
For that reason he is probably a second- or third-round player, but shows flashes of first-round skills to go with a great frame and explosive athletic ability, which includes a 38.5 in vertical jump and a 11-foot-4 broad jump at the combine.
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