There’s always a rookie gem when it comes to fantasy football, particularly at receiver. Ja’Marr Chase, for example, thrilled the fantasy football owners who drafted him last year after he won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Steelers rookie wideout George Pickens seems to be the popular choice among fantasy football players to possibly fall in Chase’s footsteps, while others feel that fellow second-round pick Skyy Moore will find a quick rapport with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
Fantasy football players also shouldn’t sleep on Christian Watson, the Packers’ rookie wideout who despite undergoing minor knee surgery this offseason has made a quick impression on Aaron Rodgers. The reigning two-time league MVP was not short of compliments when discussing Watson, who began participating in team periods late last month for the first time since undergoing his procedure.
“I might have to change Dave Bakhtiari’s nickname, because this kid might be the new baby giraffe, or more like a deer because he’s just prancing and flying around on the field,” Rodgers said during a recent appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “This dude’s got incredible stride length. And really, for a man who is 6-foot-5, his speed is legit. It was nice having him. He’s a different type of receiver than we’ve had. A guy that big with that type of stride length with that speed.”
Watson was the seventh receiver selected during April’s draft but the first wideout to see his name come off the board in the second round. A two-time FCS All-American at North Dakota State, Watson led the Bison to the program’s ninth national title last fall. While Watson made more than his share of dazzling plays in college, the fact that he played for a run-heavy FCS school (he caught just 43 passes last season) likely led to him not being a first-round pick. The Packers made sure Watson wouldn’t slide any further after trading up to select him with the 34th pick.
Since coming back from his procedure, Watson has taken advantage of down periods during practice to further strengthen his communication with Rodgers, who is hoping to develop a strong rapport with a receiving corps that now longer includes former All-Pro Davante Adams.
“Just knowing the reasons and knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and why I’m doing it on that play, that’s something that’s big for me,” Watson said of his communicating with Rodgers, via the team’s website. “I want to understand everything, just being able to go to him after and kind of pick his brain a little bit and learn more.”
Expectations for incoming rookies is a tricky proposition. Given his lack of practice time, it wouldn’t be realistic to expect Watson to hit the ground running during the early stages of the regular season. That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if Watson eventually becomes a significant part of the Packers’ offense, a unit that will look to beat defenses with their considerable depth at the skill positions.
“You guys can certainly see the physical skills, the speed and power that he possesses,” said Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who added that he hopes to have Watson on the field when Green Bay faces the Vikings on Sunday. “I think he’s still got a lot to learn. We’re trying to acclimate him as fast as humanly possible. We’ll have a plan for him [for Sunday], and we’ll kind of see where it goes.”