The 2023 fantasy football season is in full swing and it's time for another NFL player debate! If you haven’t had your fantasy football draft yet, then you are probably looking over the fantasy football player rankings. You’ve already printed out and studied the Ultimate Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet, right? Good. What about doing some fantasy football mock drafts? Fantastic. 

But even with all of that research, you are probably still staring at certain players, wondering if drafting them at their current fantasy football ADP is, not just giving you the proper value, but if they are even right for you or your team. Is the juice worth the squeeze? 

This is where we come in with our all-new Fantasy Football Player Debate series where two analysts go head-to-head and give you the pros and cons to help with your decisions.

Today, Britt Flinn and Justin Vreeland go head-to-head to help you decide whether you want to or even should draft Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson.


Why You Should Draft Deshaun Watson in Fantasy Football

By Britt Flinn

Yes, we know that the controversial return of Deshaun Watson to the NFL last season was less than stellar from a stat perspective. He only had 1100 passing yards through six games, a completion percentage of just 58.2%, and seven passing touchdowns. However, that was with two years of rust that had accumulated, he returned during the cold and windy part of the season in early December, and, by that time, the team was pretty beaten up. This year, he’s off to a new start, the Browns added weapons, and he’s motivated and determined to improve on last year’s stats. He’s acknowledged he has a lot of improvement to do but that he is putting in the work to return to his earlier form.

There’s no denying that Deshaun Watson is talented. During his last two seasons in college with the Clemson Tigers, Watson posted over 8,000 yards and 76 touchdowns through 30 games. Once he was drafted and entered the NFL, he continued to impress, and in his final season with the Texans in 2020, he eclipsed 4,800 yards, 33 touchdowns, and had a completion percentage of 70.2%. He managed this with Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller as his top two targets and a shell of David Johnson as his running back. The weapons he has to work with on the Browns this season are much better, and he has nowhere to go but up.

Amari Cooper is one of the best route runners in the entire league, and they brought in a talented slot receiver in Elijah Moore, who never got the chance to show his skills with the New York Jets. Pair that with Donovan Peoples-Jones and tight end David Njoku, and Watson has a plethora of weapons to work with. Oh, and did I mention he’s supported by one of the best run games in the league with Nick Chubb in the backfield? Opposing defenses are going to face an uphill battle trying to decipher which plays they need to cover, and the Browns’ offensive line is arguably among the top-five in the NFL. On paper, this offense looks like they could be unstoppable.

Football isn’t played on paper, though, and that’s where Watson faltered last year. The noise and mental dirt around his game hindered him in actual gameplay, but as opposed to an injury that can physically take time to heal, mental rust can be shaken off. In recent interviews, Watson has said that he is motivated and ready to be better, so if that mental readiness can translate to his gameplay, he should be ready to return to form as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. At 27, he’s in his athletic prime, and with the supporting cast around him, he has no excuses for poor game play. The only thing holding Watson back is himself, and I don’t see that mental monster curtailing his production two seasons in a row. He has something to prove, and we’re going to see a rebound on the field this year.

Why You Should NOT Draft Deshaun Watson in Fantasy Football

By Justin Vreeland

Deshaun Watson is polarizing, but mostly in negative ways. He was promising coming into the league and was an ELITE fantasy and reality QB for four seasons in Houston. People are still chasing the Texans version on Watson and hoping that he will be that guy in fantasy football once again. That was a while ago now though and banking on him returning to form from 2017-2020 might not be the wisest of the choices. 

I am not going to go too deep into all of the allegations and things surrounding Watson that kept him out of football in 2021 and for the first 11 games of 2022, but obviously that alone makes it hard to root for the guy; especially when he was promptly handed a monster contract from the Browns, despite all of it. Are we really hoping for this guy to succeed? Is that someone you want on your fantasy team to have to watch and root for? There is the argument of “I don’t have to like him, but can still have him on my fantasy roster.” And sure, you can do that, but is he even worth it at his current ADP of around 78? Let’s dig into the numbers a bit. 

Yes, he was an amazing player a while ago, but that doesn’t make him an amazing player now. He looked AWFUL in his six games with the Browns last season in his return to action. He had a career low 58.2-percent completion percentage — a full 10% worse than his career number prior to last season. He had just seven passing touchdowns to go along with five interceptions. He averaged a career low 183.7 yards per game, which is just abysmal, and his QBR was a pathetic 38.3. Any way you look at his stats from last season, you come to the conclusion that he was terrible and not even remotely close to the guy we saw in Houston. Even if we look at his as a runner, he averaged a career low 4.9 yards per carry and had just one rushing touchdown. “Rust was to be expected, he will look much better this season!” Yes, I am sure he will be better, but how much better? It would need to be a lot to justify this ADP. Let’s check in on how camp is going and if he looks back to his old form… 

Welp, that’s not exactly promising. Not to mention the team he plays for, who have their offense centered around the great rushing abilities of Nick Chubb. A run-first offense isn’t exactly ideal for the upside of the QB. They also have nearly the same offense as last year, when he struggled, as Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku are still his main pass-catchers. The only addition is Elijah Moore, who basically got cut from the Jets as they traded him simply to get him off their roster. 

Is he going to be better than Dak Prescott or Tua Tagovailoa who go a bit after him? How about Geno Smith and Anthony Richardson who go even further after him? I don’t think so. Personally, I’ll take my chances on any of those 4 QBs over Watson and the fact that I am getting them later in the draft is just the cherry on top. The price on Watson is just silly; people are already paying a top-10 cost, which drains any boom on picking him. The risk far outweighs the upside here, easy fade.