Deshaun Watson Can Return to Being a Useful Signal-Caller in Fantasy Football

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
Deshaun Watson Can Return to Being a Useful Signal-Caller in Fantasy Football

It seems like an eternity ago, but Deshaun Watson was once among the most productive quarterbacks in the league.

From a fantasy football perspective, Watson ranked in the top five of all signal-callers for three consecutive seasons from 2018 to 2020. Of course, that output all came playing for different city when Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.

This year, Watson will begin the season as starter for the Cleveland Browns. Through six previous starts with the franchise in 2022, the quarterback from Clemson displayed mixed results.

With more time to gel with the offense, what leaps can Watson make in his second season in Cleveland?

Deshaun Watson 2023 Fantasy Football Projection

All projections are via numberFire.

Fantasy Points: 299.98 (90.5 in 2022)
Ranking: QB9

  • 324 completions on 497 passing attempts (65.2% completion rate)
  • 3,892 passing yards
  • 21.9 touchdown passes
  • 9.0 interceptions
  • 546 rushing yards
  • 4.3 rushing touchdowns

Deshaun Watson Fantasy Football Outlook

Watson's play in only six contests last year (90.5 total FanDuel points) was good enough to be the 36th-best fantasy signal-caller.

Looking toward in new chapter in Ohio, Watson will attempt to remind the NFL community of his quarterbacking talent.

Meshing With the Offense

The first priority for Watson in 2023 should be developing his timing and rapport with starting receivers Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore.

Cooper can still produce at a perennial top-shelf level; he hauled in nine scores last year. By most recent season's end, Cooper was ranked as WR8 in fantasy football.

Moore is eager for a new beginning on the shores of Lake Eerie after his first two years with the New York Jets produced no noteworthy results. Still, the receiver from Ole Miss has top-end speed, showcasing a 40-yard dash time of 4.35 in 2021.

Watson will also have a dynamic tight end to utilize in David Njoku. From there, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Olympian-speedster Marquise Goodwin round out of very solid receiving corps.

If Watson can harmonize his passing attack with Cleveland's dominant ground game, there is genuine promise on offense. Naturally, Nick Chubb is one of the strongest runners in the NFL; Chubb is currently riding a four-season streak of at least 1,000 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.

The halfback from UGA will be the focus of opposing defensive game plans on a weekly basis. That should create ample opportunity for Watson downfield on play-action as well as providing timely quarterback running lanes.

Opportunity Cost: Where Is Watson Being Drafted?

Per FantasyPros' average draft position (ADP) data, Watson's ADP is 73.0 (tied with tailback Isiah Pacheco), and he's ranked as the QB9. Positionally, that leaves Watson sandwiched between Trevor Lawrence (55.0 ADP) and Dak Prescott (75.0 ADP).

It is tough to consider Watson a true dual-threat quarterback, but he does have above-average athleticism to rack up fantasy points with his legs. Throughout his career, Watson has scored 18 touchdowns on the ground while producing three separate seasons of over 400 rushing yards.

Still, Watson will not be drafted among the Josh Allens and Lamar Jacksons of the world -- and rightfully so. If Watson is still available after you have already built a dynamic roster of running backs and wide receivers, feel confident about his potential.

Final Verdict

Cleveland was middle-of-the-pack on offense last season, ranking 14th in yards and 18th in scoring. A full year with Watson will elevate those figures for the Browns, but to what degree?

Watson's rapport with his offensive playmakers -- especially Cooper -- will go a long way into the quarterback's fantasy value this season. Of course, Watson also has the ultimate security blanket: Nick Chubb. In rhythm, this Cleveland offense could be scary.

If Watson can rush the ball remotely close to how he did over his first few seasons in the NFL, then he will carry the weekly potential to boom. He won't need to pile on a ton of yards per se, but if he can find the end zone with his legs with decent regularity, Watson will be an integral cog in any fantasy lineup.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.