2023 Fantasy Football: Why Deshaun Watson is one of the biggest draft bargains of 2023

Get ready for your 2023 fantasy football draft!
Get ready for your 2023 fantasy football draft!

Deshaun Watson was a verifiably bad NFL quarterback last season, so if you want to argue that his current average draft position at QB11 is too generous ... well, that's probably fair.

Ideally, he would have been good at football last year, but he was not.

Watson delivered a six-game sample in which he completed fewer than 60% of his attempts and threw nearly as many interceptions (five) as touchdown passes (seven). He averaged only 6.5 yards per attempt and his passer rating was a miserable 79.1.

Watson of course also served an 11-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy, a horrifying situation for which he is responsible and which would have cost many players their careers.

Without question, there are plenty of valid reasons to drag Watson's name onto the do-not-draft list and exclude him from future fantasy plans. Totally understandable.

But if we're purely considering Watson's statistical floor and ceiling for the purposes of our game-within-a-game, then it becomes pretty clear that he is also a brutally obvious fantasy bargain.

Of all the players who have a potential QB1 finish within their range of outcomes, he's going the latest in drafts — by far.

Why Deshaun Watson is one of the biggest draft bargains of 2023

Watson is still just 27 and his best NFL seasons were outrageously great — among the best in the game. As recently as 2020, he led the league in passing yardage (4,823) and Y/A (8.9) while completing 70.2% of his throws and rushing for 444 yards. He was a top-five fantasy QB in the previous two seasons as well. This is definitely not one of those situations in which we need to imagine a player reaching some new level of performance; Watson has already been an upper-tier, top-of-the-ranks quarterback.

In 2023, following the first normal-ish offseason Watson has experienced in years, he gets coaching and system continuity, along with the addition of new offensive playmakers:

Elijah Moore has been a training camp hero and he was featured out of the backfield early in the preseason, which was certainly fun. Head coach Kevin Stefanski later dropped a Percy Harvin comp on the 23-year-old. Assuming good health for Moore, he's gonna prove to be a filthy steal at his modest ADP of 119.8. As a chess piece in a passing offense that already featured Amari Cooper and David Njoku, Moore could be almost unfair.

If, of course, Watson is anything like the previous version of himself.

He completed all three of his throws and rushed for 20 yards in limited action in the preseason opener, so the early returns have been encouraging — though not everything has been encouraging. Still, Watson is a dual-threat QB with obvious upside attached to an ascending offense, available in drafts in the middle rounds. Players who fit exactly that description have been decisive, league-tilting fantasy difference-makers in recent seasons. If you can't quite get on board with drafting the top-tier quarterbacks in Rounds Two-Four, Watson is pretty clearly the late name to target.