article featured image background
Article preview

Second-Year Scouting Report: Christian Watson

NFL Fantasy



Nick Makowitz

Contributor's Page

June is underway, and we’re getting closer and closer to the 2023 regular season. Best ball leagues have been drafting for months now, and they are getting more popular now that we understand landing spots for veteran free agents and rookies.


Every year, rookie fever emerges, and the previous class gets pushed aside by the shiny new NFL toys. This usually results in a rookie surge of ADP, which opens up pockets of value, especially with players from the previous class who may not be as established as some long-time veterans in the league. This happens even though most fantasy analysts (and players) understand the largest leap occurs from Year 1 to Year 2.

Throughout the summer, FTN will be releasing second-year scouting reports to keep these players fresh in fantasy managers’ minds. The series shifts today to Christian Watson, who had a breakout rookie season in Green Bay in 2022.

Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Despite playing at North Dakota State and putting up numbers that didn’t jump off the page, Christian Watson was drafted 34th overall by the Packers in large part due to his rare combination of size (6-foot-5) and speed (4.3 40-yard dash). 

Watson found himself in a good spot in Green Bay, catching passes from Aaron Rodgers with an opportunity to earn significant time among a pedestrian receiving corps. In his first game, the rookie wideout dropped an easy deep touchdown from Rodgers and struggled to find consistent playing time afterward. Luckily for him, he was given the opportunity to redeem himself as the season went on and he made the most of it, setting him up for an opportunity to take a leap in Year 2.

What Went Wrong

Nothing went right for Watson in the first nine weeks of the season. He never amassed more than four targets in a game, only played more than half the snaps once and missed three games (and a quarter) due to injury. When he was on the field in those weeks, he only ran a route on 27% of Green Bay’s dropbacks and averaged a subpar 1.40 yards per route run.

Even in the back half of the season, when Watson shined for fantasy, he did it on the back of touchdowns, with all seven of his receiving scores coming in Weeks 10-13. Before then, he averaged under four fantasy points per game. After that stretch, he averaged under eight. It’s great to have such a ridiculous run like Watson did, but he showed almost no ability to put up points without scoring. If he wants to live up to the hype and his fantasy draft price, he’ll have to be more consistent.

<img src="https://d2y4ihze0bzr5g.cloudfront.net/source/2020/Christian_Watson.jpg" alt="

What Went Right

Despite Watson’s brutal fantasy season outside of Weeks 10-13, and his reliance on touchdowns, some underlying metrics suggest he’s in store for a massive breakout. For the entire season, the former Bison wide receiver ranked 11th in yards per route run (2.4) and 16th in targets per route run (25%). Those numbers jump up a bit to 2.7 and 26% from Week 10 and beyond.

From Week 10 on, Watson also registered 4.1 air yards per route run and accounted for 38% of the Packers’ total air yards which would’ve ranked first and seventh respectively for a full season. In short, Watson’s big plays and massive games happened to come in four straight weeks, but they weren’t a fluke. According to our expected fantasy points tool, Watson’s seven receiving touchdowns were actually a bit lower than his expected touchdowns (7.4). 


Prognosis Entering 2022

Christian Watson enters Year 2 in a much different position than he entered Year 1. He practically has the wide receiver room to himself with Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb in New York, but Aaron Rodgers is there with them, so Jordan Love will be throwing him the ball. If Rodgers was still behind center, Watson’s fifth-round ADP would likely be much higher. Still, he’s in line to take a big step forward for fantasy compared to his rookie year.

If Jordan Love is just a serviceable quarterback, the 6-foot-5 speedster should have ample opportunity to rip off big plays, and he should dominate the target share enough to produce even without multiple touchdowns. In the fifth round, there’s a little bit of risk because of his quarterback, but you’re getting a young, explosive, clear-cut-number-one receiver. His WR24 ADP feels much closer to his floor — which isn’t as low as some people think — than his ceiling, so for almost any team, he’s probably worth it in the fifth.

Dynasty Outlook

Again, Jordan Love throws a wrench into Watson’s outlook, this time for dynasty as opposed to redraft. Even so, Watson is a borderline top-20 dynasty wide receiver, and this could be the last chance anyone has to buy relatively low. If he smashes with Jordan Love, those two will be tied together for years and Watson will become one of the elite dynasty wideouts at just 24 years old. Even if Love proves to be average or worse, nobody should feel “stuck” with Watson. He’s an elite athlete with a clear path to No. 1 receiver volume for at least a couple more years. I wouldn’t trade him if I had him, and I’d be seeking him out if he’s not on my roster.

Previous 2023 Scott Fish Bowl Draft Strategies Next Pope’s Pick 6: Top TEs in the 2024 Draft