Last year Patrick Mahomes was far and away the best fantasy football quarterback in the league. He had a touchdown rate of 8.6%, he threw 50 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and constantly looked to scramble and find big plays downfield instead of take the shorter easier stuff. His touchdown rate will drop. The Chiefs will probably try to reel him in some and teach him how to pick and choose his spots to go deep. No one knows what’s going to happen to Tyreek Hill. Plus, he was so incredible in 2018, a season that was an extreme outlier, it’s safe to assume he’ll be worse fantasy football wise in 2019.
If that happens someone has to step up. If it does, who will it be? An old man like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers? Probably not. Someone like Russell Wilson is interesting but Seattle doesn’t throw it enough. Matt Ryan is intriguing. Jared Goff was great in a cozy situation, and is going to have to lead an offense missing two of its interior starters and a hobbled Todd Gurley, but he hasn’t shown he can do it all on his own yet. Younger players like Baker Mayfield probably aren’t there yet.
So how about Deshaun Watson? Why not. The offensive line should be better, and was better than most think it was last season. Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee are currently healthy. Kahale Warring could be great this season. The pass defense is probably going to be bad, and Houston will probably play in six to eight shootouts this year against great passing offenses. So why not Watson?
Watson’s 331.7 fantasy points last season ranked fourth at the position, 85.4 behind Mahomes and also behind Matt Ryan’s 355.0 and Ben Roethlisberger’s 341.9. That was the 34th-best single-season total by any quarterback in NFL history, but it was lost in the shadows of Mahomes’ banner year.
In the process, Watson’s performance actually regressed on a per-game basis compared to that of his rookie 2017, but progressed in terms of the cumulative total and also the improvements he made to his game. His 2017 featured 24.1 fantasy points per game, 10th-best by any quarterback in NFL history, and a total of 163.2 points in his six starts -- the first six of his NFL career -- which was 20.6 more than any other quarterback has had through his first six starts (Cam Newton owns that second-best total).
Watson’s per-game average dipped by nearly 3½ points to 20.7 as a sophomore, his first full season as an NFL starter. And in the process, his game-changing fantasy performance was seemingly forgotten, replaced by the new “hot hand” at the position. Nevertheless, his output was historically relevant: His 103.1 passer rating was eighth-best and 68.3% completion rate second-best in NFL history among second-year quarterbacks. Those numbers rank fourth and first, respectively, in those same categories among quarterbacks age 23 or younger in a season.
That completion rate represented a key improvement for Watson: More of a “chucker” as a rookie -- a quarterback with no fear of tossing the ball deep despite the risk of turnovers -- he became considerably more disciplined and, with the change, accurate as a sophomore.
What’s more, as he has become a smarter passer, Watson hasn’t lost anything from his running game. He was as apt to take off in Week 17 of 2018 as he was in his first NFL start. In fact, his 46 rushing attempts, 276 rushing yards and four rushing scores in his final six games of 2018 (Weeks 12-17) represented his largest totals in any of those three categories during any six-game stretch so far in his career. Watson’s 56.1 fantasy point total on rushes alone in 2018 was third-best among quarterbacks, trailing only the 77.6 by Josh Allen, whose per-rush numbers were unsustainable, and 76.6 by Lamar Jackson, who ran more often than any quarterback in NFL history.
I think it’s a possibility. One of the the things I’m standing on his for Houston to make the playoffs in 2019 Watson has to play at a MVP caliber level. Being the #1 fantasy football quarterback would be exactly this. I think the biggest things stopping this is health, Fuller and Coutee haven’t shown it yet, and Bill O’Brien, who can be too conservative and doesn’t consistently call aggressive downfield passing plays unless the Texans are behind. That being said, once again, it’s a real possibility.
What about you? Do you think Watson can be the best fantasy quarterback in 2019?