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Is Deshaun Watson Worth Drafting in 2022? Fantasy Football Draft Outlook

One of the most difficult things to do as a fantasy analyst is to make projections about a player for the upcoming season based off of incomplete information. This has been problematic as it relates to Deshaun Watson due to the NFL's very complicated system when it comes to player discipline.

Newly-acquired Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson sat out the entire 2021 season due to a contract dispute with his former team, the Houston Texans. Watson then faced more than 20 civil lawsuits alleging several instances of sexual assault and misconduct. Two different juries in the state of Texas declined to charge Watson with any legal wrongdoing, but it was inevitable that he would face a suspension from the NFL league office.

Here at RotoBaller our mission is to keep you updated on the case with plenty of coverage and how it all relates to Watson's and the rest of the Browns' players' fantasy outlook for the 2022 season.

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What is Deshaun Watson's Current Suspension Status?

One week ago, independent arbitrator Sue Robinson, a retired federal judge ruled that Deshaun Watson would receive a 6-game suspension for the 2022 NFL season due to his sexual misconduct. The NFL had 72 hours to appeal the decision before it was final and did so before the appeal window was up, leaving Watson's status very much in doubt for the 2022 season.

The NFL has made it known throughout the entire process that they wanted an indefinite suspension for Deshaun Watson with a minimum of one year. Now that the appeal has been filed by the NFL, another judge will rule on the case. Once the ruling is made it will be final and binding amongst all parties.

There is a chance that the NFLPA and Deshaun Watson could sue the NFL in an attempt to seek recourse against whatever suspension is coming, but according to fellow RotoBaller writer and attorney, Frank Dyevoich, it doesn't seem like a likely outcome.

An interesting wrinkle in all of this is that the NFL offered Watson a "12-game suspension and a significant fine in the range of $8 million," according to Jake Trotter, who covers the Browns for ESPN. Watson and his camp declined the NFL's offer and instead chose to let the matter play out with the independent arbitrator. While the outcome of Robinson's ruling was the one they wanted, they must not have thought the NFL was going to escalate the matter and appeal the decision.

Currently, Deshaun Watson can practice with his Browns teammates and be at the facility, but it does seem inevitable he will be suspended for a larger chunk of the 2022 season and possibly for all of it.


Where is Deshaun Watson Currently Being Drafted?

Deshaun Watson is currently being drafted around an ADP of 151 as the QB20 off the board. These ADP numbers are partially skewed due to the reality that no one knows for sure what Watson's suspension will be. His ADP rose in value as it appeared he wouldn't be suspended as long as some had initially thought, but that all changed once the NFL decided to appeal the 6-game suspension.

In dynasty formats, Watson is going as the QB12 off the board with an average ADP of 32 in most Superflex leagues. Due to the uncertainty of the suspension, most of Watson's value is in dynasty leagues where players aren't solely focused on just the 2022 season.

It is difficult at this juncture to draft Watson in best ball tournaments as he's likely to miss at least half of the season, which is a big blow to rosters. In best ball leagues there is no trading, no waivers, and no pickups. Rosters are locked in once they are drafted and the players who perform the best each week go to help that team's lineup.

Due to the reality that Watson could be suspended for all of 2022, he is a very risky choice in best ball tournaments even at a discounted ADP of around 151 on Underdog.


Is Deshaun Watson Worth Drafting For Fantasy Football in 2022?

While Deshaun Watson has performed well for fantasy in years past, the looming suspension leaves his fantasy status very much in doubt for 2022.

As Watson didn't play at all during the 2021 season it is easy to give into recency bias and forget just how good of a quarterback he is. Watson is a dual-threat quarterback who provides a solid rushing floor for his fantasy value. From 2018-20, Watson averaged 469 yards on the ground along with 5 rushing touchdowns.

Looking at past fantasy performances for Watson, he finished as the QB5 for 2020, QB5 for 2019, and QB4 for 2018. His rookie season in 2017 ended early due to a torn ACL that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.


Deshaun Watson 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

If Watson were to play in 2022, he would likely become a top-five start at the QB position in any week that he plays. In Cleveland, he has a much better offensive line and supporting cast around him than he did in Houston, along with an offensive guru: Kevin Stefanski as his head coach.

The Browns projected starting lineup is as follows:

RBs: Nick ChubbKareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson, Jerome Ford
WRs: Amari CooperDonovan Peoples-JonesAnthony Schwartz, David Bell, Demetric Felton Jr.
TEs: David NjokuHarrison Bryant
LT: Jedrick Wills, LG: Joel Bitonio, C: Nick Harris, RG: Wyatt Teller, RT: Jack Conklin

If Watson were to play it's clear to see that he wouldn't have a difficult time at all performing for fantasy in the Browns' offense. While he might likely be rusty for the first few games he could become league-winning QB1 for teams down the stretch.

It's easy to project good things for Watson when he is on the field, but at this time it is impossible to determine just how long that will be and fantasy managers should be aware of the risks involved.



It is easy to see that when Watson is on the field he will be great for fantasy. It is important to check your league's settings to see if suspended players are eligible for injured reserve. If not, that is a blow to Watson's fantasy value for 2022 in your format.

Watson is mostly an avoid for 2022 due to the reality that the NFL seems adamant about suspending him for the entire 2022 season. While there is a chance than an agreement might be reached, both sides were very far apart in the early negotiations. If you do go late on a quarterback in your draft, he is worth stashing on your bench in redraft leagues, but he should mostly be avoided in best-ball leagues due to the reality he could give you a goose egg for all of 2022 while tying up a vital roster spot that could be contributing elsewhere.

Watson has the most value in dynasty leagues where it's likely that he will play all of 2023 with all of the legal issues behind him. Some of you may choose not to roster him at all for moral reasons and that is perfectly fine too.

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