Rookies across the NFL have been extremely impressive through five weeks of the 2017 season, though over the last three weeks, no rookie – if not any NFL player – has been more impressive than Deshaun Watson. The 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft out of Clemson rightfully extinguished Tom Savage of his starting job after the first half in week one and has been a dynamic play-caller since. The Houston Texans held tough against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in a 42-34 loss while Watson threw five touchdown passes, including three to Deandre Hopkins. The Texans sit at 2-3, but Watson is poised to lead the Texans and your fantasy team to the playoffs this season. Here’s why I believe he is a must-own and must-start quarterback in all fantasy football leagues.
Deshaun Watson led the Clemson Tigers to two straight CFP National Championship games in his final two college seasons before beginning his NFL career. In 2016, he narrowly defeated #1 Alabama but came back the following year to defeat the same team that beat him first. Down by three points with 2:01 left on the game clock, Watson led Clemson down to the Alabama two-yard line leaving six seconds remaining. Rather than tying the game with a field goal, Clemson went for it all as Watson found Hunter Renfrow in the end zone to win the game. Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns in addition to 43 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown. His 420 yards passing set a National Championship game record, surpassing himself from a year ago.
Watson finished his three-year college career throwing for 10,168 yards, 90 touchdowns, and 32 interceptions while completing 67.4 percent of his throws. He also displayed his great athleticism by also rushing for 1934 yards and 26 touchdowns in that span. Before the NFL draft, head coach Dabo Swinney warned teams that passing on Watson was like passing Michael Jordan. He may not be the greatest of all time yet, but so far, he’s living up to the praise.
Transition to the NFL
In Watson’s draft profile, nobody questioned his leadership and athleticism, but his accuracy and decision making were concerns listed by NFL scouts. He’s shattered these expectations in his rookie season. For the Texans, he’s been a mobile playmaker who has done a fantastic job in and out of the pocket. Even though he tends to over-target Deandre Hopkins, he has still shown pristine accuracy with a 62.1 percent completion percentage.
During his first two games, he needed to find his rhythm. However, over the last three weeks, he has increased his yards per attempt to an average of 8.6 and posted an average quarterback rating of 111.8. With Watson under center, Houston is averaging 28.8 points per game, 41.3 over the last three weeks. He has single-handedly revitalized the Texans’ offense and made many of the offensive players fantasy relevant.
In an outstanding performance against the Tennessee Titans, Watson exploded and helped the Texans earn a 57-14 win. Watson was 25 of 34 for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns and added a fifth on the ground.
After five weeks, Watson completed 90 of 145 attempts for 1072 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. Watson has added the element of using his legs to rush for 179 yards and 2 scores. To me, Watson is this year’s Dak Prescott but doesn’t have the luxury of handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott. Deshaun Watson will only get better as his chemistry down the field grows with Will Fuller, opening more opportunities for the already dangerous Deandre Hopkins.
Deshaun Watson currently holds the second most fantasy points this season behind Alex Smith, who is having the best season of his career. Watson is averaging 22.56 points per game after five weeks, and he didn’t play an entire half of week one. He has shown incredible ability to score points in the air with Hopkins and now Fuller and on the ground when running outside the pocket. It can be said that he hasn’t faced the strongest defenses in the NFL, but he’s been productive and smart with the football. It’s unbelievable to me that he isn’t 100 percent owned in all leagues at this point. If he isn’t owned in your league, pick him up. If you have him, play him and if you are against someone who has him, all I can say is good luck.
Any comments, questions, or concerns? Talk with me on twitter @DJFezler_TFR for more fantasy football insight and discussion.