Christian Watson Fantasy Outlook: Can the Green Bay Packers’ WR1 Build on His Solid Rookie Campaign?

As the Green Bay Packers enter life without Aaron Rodgers, can Christian Watson emerge into a productive fantasy WR that does more than score touchdowns?

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson was the talk of the NFL for a stretch last season as he went on a touchdown-scoring tear. Now entering his sophomore season, can Watson become a more complete receiver? What is his fantasy football outlook for the 2023 season?

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Christian Watson’s Fantasy Outlook

Watson was a very interesting prospect coming out of North Dakota State last year. On the one hand, he’s incredibly gifted athletically and stands at an impressive 6’4″, 208 pounds. He looks like your classic, old-school dominant outside receiver.

On the other hand, he went to an FCS school and was already 23 years old in his rookie year. While very dominant in college, he wasn’t otherworldly dominant, which is a higher threshold of dominance we want to see when we know receivers are facing lesser competition.

As a rookie, Watson followed the classic path of rookie wide receivers. Over the first half of the season, he was a rotational player who didn’t really do much. Watson didn’t reach double-digit fantasy points in a single game over the season’s first nine weeks.

As often happens with rookie receivers, they acclimate to the NFL, and something starts to click halfway through the season. Watson exploded in Week 10 for 32.7 PPR fantasy points. From that point forward, Watson averaged 17.2 ppg. He was the WR9 over that span.

Despite battling injuries and essentially only mattering for half a season, Watson still managed 611 receiving yards, surpassing the 500-yard threshold we look for. He also posted some impressive efficiency metrics, especially for a rookie.

Watson had a 25.5% targets-per-route-run rate. That was 25th in the league — a very impressive feat for a rookie. That means even when Watson wasn’t playing much, he was still being targeted at a high rate when he actually ran routes.

Watson was also a fantastic downfield threat. His 12.8 average depth of target was 12th in the league. He averaged 2.4 yards per route run, 12th in the league, and 9.4 yards per target, 15th in the league.

Should Fantasy Managers Draft Watson at His ADP?

Overall, 11.7 ppg is very good for a rookie. However, it is important to understand how Watson arrived at his WR32 finish. The man was heavily bolstered by an outrageous touchdown rate.

Watson scored seven times on just 65 receptions. That’s a touchdown every nine catches. It’s unsustainable, and there’s no way we can project that again.

There’s also the added issue of the unknown that is Jordan Love at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers is far more likely to be capable of leading receivers to overperform their expected touchdown rate than Love.

The good news is the Packers are still relatively thin at wide receiver. Watson projects to be the clear WR1, with Romeo Doubs and rookie Jayden Reed as the WR2 and WR3. This is a very young receiving corps.

My projections have Watson at 76 catches for 1,122 yards and 7.8 touchdowns. That comes out to 14.1 ppg and a WR22 finish.

Watson’s ADP currently sits at WR27, No. 67 overall. There’s obvious progression baked into it, but it’s not at all unreasonable. In fact, I would expect him to go considerably higher than that in most drafts.

I have Watson ranked at WR21, but in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a strong take on Watson this season. I will gladly take him if he’s the top player on my board when I’m on the clock, but if I miss out on him, I won’t be too upset about it.

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