Deshaun Watson burst onto the scene like a house on fire in 2018. Watson brought an excitement to a Houston Texans offense that for so long was sleepwalking through seasons. Who can forget that unbelievable game against the Seattle Seahawks last season? Watson and Russell Wilson trading blows like a heavyweight fight, it was an instant classic. Unfortunately, that was the last great moment of 2017 for Watson.
Watson suffered a torn ACL while in practice on November 2nd. Normally this severe of an injury could temper expectations, however that is far from what is happening. At the time of this writing fantasypros.com has Watson as the fourth quarterback off the board (only Aaron Rodgers, Wilson and Tom Brady are ahead) and an overall ADP of 43 in PPR leagues. The Fantasy Spotlight takes a deep dive into what to expect, and perhaps not expect from Watson in 2018.
2018 Fantasy Spotlight: Deshaun Watson
So just how good was Watson’s rookie season? His 25.0 fantasy points per game in the seven games he played were eighth best by any quarterback all-time. Keep in mind that he only played the second half during the season opener. His efficiency in 2017 was absolutely off the charts. According to playerprofiler.com his 5.3 air yards per attempt were tops in the league, also number one amongst quarterbacks were his +70.6-production premium, his 81.8 total QBR and his .67 fantasy points per drop-back. These numbers were so good that they will be near impossible to repeat in 2018. In fact, his .67 FP per drop-back were 24.6 percent better than the next best quarterback.
Watson’s rookie season passer rating was second-best all time of any rookie with at least 200 passes. He showed impeccable ability to produce on the ground as well finishing behind only Cam Newton in rushing fantasy points per drop-back. Obviously coming off a torn ACL the Texans will tighten the reigns a bit with Watson’s running making it tough for him to repeat those numbers of last season.
Watson’s play certainly helped increase the production of his talented wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. While Hopkins proved that he could be a standout no matter who was throwing the football (Tom Savage), Fuller really stepped up his game with Watson under center. During the seven games played with Watson, Fuller ranked second in fantasy points per game (21.0) behind, yes you guessed it, his teammate, the man they call “Nuke” (21.1). Of course, Watson’s passing efficiency aided the production of both Hopkins and Fuller. Watson averaged a touchdown pass on 9.31 percent of his attempts (a stat heard on a recent episode of the Pickin’ Up the Blitz fantasy podcast) which is second all-time of any quarterback with at least 200 pass attempts since the NFL merger. Like we said earlier, historic efficiency.
The Second Act
As historic as Watson’s seven-game rookie season was (exceeded projected fantasy stats in all seven games played), it will be near impossible to repeat. That doesn’t mean Watson is going to have a bad second season, it just means he will come down a few pegs. A look at quarterback seasons of the past shows that touchdown rate usually comes down from the previous season. Of course, the severity of his injury plays a factor in mobility. He will still be able to make plenty of plays with his legs and rack up fantasy points, but he will have to pick his spots a bit more. Also, it would help to get production from running backs Lamar Miller and D’onta Foreman, neither produced a 100-yard rushing game in 2017. If the running back production can increase it will open the door for Watson to connect with his favorite targets Hopkins and Fuller more than enough to satisfy fantasy owners.
Deshaun Watson’s QB4 FantasyPros ranking is right on target and he could finish as a top-three quarterback in 2018. The Texans have the third easiest strength of schedule for fantasy quarterbacks and Hopkins/Fuller present matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Passing- 3622 Yards / 25 TD / 14 INT
Rushing- 408 Yards / 3 TD
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