Fans should not be seduced by the Deshaun Watson fantasy hype
Fantasy football players should beware the hype surrounding Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Second-year Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is receiving hot press from fantasy experts suggesting him as the number one fantasy quarterback to draft this year. But buyer beware as the hype could be setting you up for buyer’s remorse.
Just a few nuggets of hype surrounding Watson include James Koh of NFL.com ranking Watson as QB1 and Andre Snellings of ESPN stating that over Watson’s six starts he “was by far” the best quarterback in fantasy. I will not argue those specific statistics.
My advice, however, is to temper expectations. Do not overdraft Watson. Texans fans may accuse me of blasphemy, but allow me to explain my apprehension. First, I am a fan of Watson. Looking back at his six starts from last year, it was magical. Combine that with an electric running back in D’Onta Foreman, the best wide receiver in the game DeAndre Hopkins and vertical deep threat wide receiver Will Fuller, and the fantasy dream team is there for the taking.
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Having said all that, here are my salient data points that suggest a risk of regression in fantasy production for Watson:
Watson played in seven games last year. In his first two games, he threw only one touchdown. This is relevant because in his last five starts he threw for 18 touchdowns on only 157 attempts. That’s an 11.5% touchdown rate. That sort of production is just not sustainable for an entire season. There would eventually be regression to the mean or (heaven forbid) another injury. We all know how that turned out.
Other teams get better. They improve their roster and coaching staff. Teams now have enough tape on Watson to game plan appropriately. I don’t expect him to be shut down completely, but I do expect defensive coaches to be more prepared as they were for second-year Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott last season. Prescott went from a 13-3 record in 2016 to not making the playoffs in 2017.
The best-coached teams win in this league. The new head coach of the Tennessee Titans, Mike Vrabel, may prove an interesting foil for Watson twice this year. Expect Vrabel to deploy a run happy, ball-control offense that keeps the Texans offense off the field twice this year.
I have written about players having a predisposition to injuries. I referenced an article from The Atlantic discussing the genetics of being injury prone. Watson’s injury last season was not his first ACL tear. The way athletes train today causes their muscles to be too big and strong for their joints. I love Watson, but I doubt he will play a full season.
As for Watson’s weapons. Will Foreman be the same bruising running back after the achilles injury? And Will Fuller has yet to play an entire season injury-free.
So temper fantasy expectations for Watson in 2018. Let someone else take the risk. If you get him later in the draft, fine. But if you do draft him, wait until he strings together two or three solid fantasy games and then trade him before he has a chance to regress or get injured. At the latest, cut him loose heading into the week 10 bye.