Since entering the league via the 2017 NFL Draft, Deshaun Watson has become one of the most polarizing players in the NFL. Before tearing his ACL during a non-contact play at practice, Deshaun Watson was having one of the most impressive rookie seasons the NFL has ever seen from a QB. This has caused Watson’s Average Draft Position (ADP) to drastically increase in dynasty start-up drafts. According to rotoviz.com, Watson is currently being taken as the 3rd QB off the board, behind Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Due mainly to the high touchdown percentage and injury history, plenty members of the dynasty community are fading Watson at this current price. I’m here to tell you why I believe Deshaun Watson is fully worth the investment as a top 3 dynasty QB.
A Wild Rookie Season
As I mentioned earlier, Watson had a phenomenal showing in his rookie season before tearing his ACL. In the 6 games that Watson had started for the Houston Texans (Weeks 2-8), he accumulated 1,597 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Additionally, Watson showcased his mobility by adding 253 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. During that stretch, Watson finished as a QB1 5 of the 6 weeks, and an overall Top 3 QB in 4 of the weeks.
During this stretch, Deshaun Watson displayed why he was worth the Texans trading a future first to move up to the 12th overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Watson was the starter for 3 of the teams 4 wins in 2017 and really gave life to the team’s offense. In 5 of his 6 starts, Watson led the offense to score 30 or more points, an obstacle that the Texans overcame only one time after Watson went down with his injury.
Touchdown Regression? No Problem!
One of the biggest knocks of Deshaun Watson being a Top 3 dynasty QB was his ridiculous touchdown percentage of 9.3%. By no means is this touchdown percentage sustainable. Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably one of the best QBs in NFL history, has a career touchdown percentage of 6.39%. Just for reference, a touchdown percentage of 4% is about average, 5% is above average and 6% or more is elite.
Knowing that those touchdowns are due for some regression, I decided to look at Watson’s rookie stats from a different view. I decided to look at his stats on a per game basis, with HALF of the passing touchdowns. Weeks 2-8, his average stats per game wound up being 266 passing yards, 1.5 passing TDs, 1.2 INT, 5.7 carries, 42 rushing yards and .3 rushing TDs. When extrapolated over a 16-game season, Deshaun Watson would have ended up with 4256 passing yards, 24 passing TDs, 19 INT, 91 carries, 675 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDS.
Based on ESPN standard scoring, these stats would give Deshaun Watson 326 fantasy points. This would have made Watson the overall QB 2 in 2017, only behind Russell Wilson. Watson’s ability to sustain drives, rake up passing yards and also generate offense using his legs could make him one of the safest QBs in Fantasy Football. Even if the touchdowns drastically regress, which they will, Watson should have enough production to be a top 5 QB for years to come.
Improved Offensive Line
According to Pro Football Focus, the Houston Texans had the worst ranked offensive line in the NFL throughout the 2017 season. Deshaun Watson was pressured on 47.7 percent of his drop backs in 2017, which was the highest amongst all QBs in the NFL. In order to protect their franchise QB, the Texans made it a priority to improve their offensive line through free agency and the draft. The improvements they made should help keep a cleaner pocket for Watson and limit the amount of hits he takes.
Free Agent Acquisitions – Zach Fulton (OG) PFF Rank = 14, Senio Kelemete (OG) PFF Rank = 41, Seantrel Henderson (OT)
NFL Draft – Martinas Rankin (OL) 3rd round, Jordan Akins (TE) 3rd round, Jordan Thomas (TE) 6th wound