UPDATE May 5th, 2017: After missing half of the 2016 season, the Buffalo Bills have declined the 5th-year option on WR Sammy Watkins. He is set to be a free agent in 2018.
Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made headlines during week 6 earlier this season after publicly stating he needed at least “10 targets” per game. At the time, the second-year play maker received a mixed reaction from the media and fans as he already missed two games due to injury and had only scored one touchdown up until that point in the season.
Nevertheless, Watkins was absolutely right. While week 6’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals did see Sammy visit the endzone, it was really the second half of the season, specifically after week 8 when his tear began. It started with #14’s health, as the bye week allowed his body to heal and directly enabled the much-needed growth in chemistry between he and QB Tyrod Taylor.
Through the final 9 games of the 2015 season, Watkins caught 49 receptions for 900 yards, 7 touchdowns and a league-leading average of 18.3 yards per catch. He also caught 70% of the passes thrown his way, only second to Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown, who hauled in 72% over that same period. Below is a chart of the elite wide receiver performances (after week 8 and in no specific order) over the second half of the season, with Sammy’s stats highlighted in blue:
Looking at those numbers, sheer volume separates Antonio Brown from the pack. Beyond him you could argue Watkins was the most effective, with Julio Jones and Brandon Marshall having a say in that debate. One can only imagine how much more damage Sammy would do with another 20 or 30 targets.
And to boot, he put these numbers up with a quarterback starting for the first time in his 5-year NFL career and in a run-heavy offense that only throws approximately 27 times per game. Yes, we all know Buffalo could have had another 1st-round pick, but watching Sammy set up shop on Revis Island is seriously entertaining.
From the looks of it, the Buffalo Bills got themselves an elite receiver in Sammy Watkins, as he solidified himself as a play maker in 2015 and looks poised to breakout even further next year.