We are getting ever closer to Deshaun Watson’s return to the field. But should fantasy football managers look to add him on the waiver wire ahead of that? With the Cleveland Browns QB able to practice in Week 11 and return to game action in Week 13, he will likely see a lot of media coverage in the next couple of weeks.
Therefore, should fantasy managers be looking to get ahead of the rush and add Watson this week, even though he is a couple of weeks away?
Is Deshaun Watson Worth a Week 11 Waiver Wire Add?
There should be little doubt that Watson will immediately return to the field when he is eligible to against the Houston Texans. With Jacoby Brissett under center, the Browns have limped to 3-6 with a less-than-exemplary passing game. While Brissett is not solely to blame, he hasn’t done enough to stop Watson from coming straight back onto the field when he can.
However, there are some questions about how long Watson will be the starter for the Browns this year. With games against the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming in the next two weeks, the Browns could be 3-8 and on the verge of elimination from the playoffs. Consequently, the Browns may not want to risk having their starting QB for 2023, who has a fully guaranteed contract, on the field for meaningless football.
We will likely see a run of four or five games from Watson this year. At 3-8, the Browns would likely have a faint hope of making the playoffs, meaning we should see a short run of Watson on the field for fantasy managers. His run of games when he returns to the field are the Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
That initial return to the field will likely be tough. Even though Watson has a chance to ramp up in practice, returning to the field for the first time in more than a season and a half will likely have its bumps. Adding to that are two reasonably tough matchups in the first two games.
The Texans are the fifth-toughest matchup for opposing QBs, allowing an average of 12.88 fantasy points per game (fppg). However, the Texans have been a slightly easier matchup in the last two weeks. They have allowed an average of 19.15 fppg across those two weeks.
The following week is against the Bengals, the fourth-toughest matchup for opposing QBs this season (but they did allow 20.32 fantasy points to Brissett in Week 8). However, that is the only time Cincinnati has allowed more than 15 fantasy points to a QB this season.
The matchups get easier in the final four weeks of the season, but that only becomes relevant for teams in the fantasy playoffs. If you are scrapping to make the playoffs and need a QB option from Week 13 onward, Watson is certainly an option for you. He is rostered in just 28.2% of ESPN leagues, but that number will likely rise in the coming weeks.
How Should Fantasy Managers Prioritize Watson?
This is a tough question for fantasy managers. In 1QB leagues with shallow benches, it is extremely tough to stash a QB for two weeks. In Superflex leagues, the impact of a QB is more significant, making the move more worthwhile.
However, if your roster is set and you are passed the worst of your bye weeks, there is no harm turning that roster spot over from its current occupant. If the need arises to have that roster spot available again, dropping Watson is always a potential option.
Of course, if you need help at the QB position in Weeks 11 or 12, Watson is not the solution there. Instead, you should look for potential streaming options to help you in the short term.
When it comes to the choice of stashing Watson or a skill-position player, that’s where things get clouded. If you are holding onto an RB that is one injury away from being a potential starter, that carries a lot of value. However, if that roster spot is stashing a potential WR3 or WR2 candidate, Watson has a greater potential upside for that spot.
Is Watson a Worthwhile Addition in Rest-of-Season Best Ball Leagues?
If you join a rest-of-season Best Ball league on Underdog Fantasy, Watson will likely have a wide variation of values. While he cannot help you for the next two weeks, he has enticing potential value when he returns to the field.
If you can get Watson as a low-end QB1 in those drafts, the upside is likely worth the return. We know how good Watson can be when he is on the field. Having him on your roster in a Best Ball league mitigates some of the concern about knowing when to start him. If you can pair him with a solid floor option at QB, that gives you the best of both worlds going forward.