Deshaun Watson’s dynasty value has been incredibly difficult to track over recent years. At one point, he looked like a bona fide top-five option at the QB position for years to come, but he’s seen his stock plummet over the past two years.
Now that it’s been announced that he will have season-ending shoulder surgery, where does the Cleveland Browns QB land in dynasty fantasy football rankings? Is it time to cut losses and ship him away, or is he worth holding onto? Let’s dive in.
Deshaun Watson’s Dynasty Outlook
During his time with the Houston Texans, Watson was a star for fantasy football as he was racking up points throwing the ball to Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller deep downfield while David Johnson operated out of the backfield. This seems like an absolute eternity ago, as Watson hasn’t played for the Texans franchise since January of 2021.
We know how the next couple of seasons played out for Watson as he was eventually traded from the Texans to the Browns and handed a fully guaranteed contract worth $230 million after a long suspension. However, he’s done very little to prove that he was worth that level of investment, and his fantasy stock has been slowly sliding.
In 12 games as the starting QB for the Browns, Watson has failed to record more than 300 passing yards in any contest. He’s also thrown for just 14 passing touchdowns to nine interceptions and has dealt with numerous injuries over that time frame.
The latest injury is a broken bone in his throwing shoulder that will require season-ending surgery. After just six games played in 2023, the veteran QB will go on injured reserve, and his future — and dynasty value — is now a complete mystery.
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Cleveland is stuck with Watson for the foreseeable future due to the guaranteed contract, as he will cost the team an estimated $200,000,000 in dead cap if they cut him next season. This seems like a very drastic move, though, considering the Browns are 8-4 with him as the starter despite the lack of top-tier production.
Watson will be back as the starting QB for the Browns next season — assuming a full recovery from his surgery — but his durability issues and failure to meet expectations should force Cleveland to go hunting around the high-level backup QB market this offseason.
There’s no guarantee — outside of his contract — that Watson will be a starting QB for an NFL franchise in 2025. At just 28 years old, Watson would figure to be still in the top-12 conversation of dynasty rankings, but he’s now tumbled down the board into the mid-range QB2 territory.
He’s still worth holding onto in Superflex fantasy leagues, but if you are looking to move off of him and trade him away in your league, we have some options here below to discuss.
Should You Trade Watson in Dynasty?
Are you considering trading Watson? Our PFN Trade Analyzer allows you to find the best trades to make in seconds! It also allows us to see trending searches, and we’ve compiled a few of the most popular below.
Should You Trade Watson for Kenny Pickett?
While Watson has certainly been a disappointment for fantasy since he signed the mega deal with the Browns, he has still been more effective when on the field than Kenny Pickett for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As mentioned above, Watson’s thrown for 14 touchdowns in 12 games as a member of the Browns offense. Pickett has thrown for just 13 career touchdowns in 22 total games played up to this point! While Pickett still has the excuse that he’s a young QB who’s trying to learn his way around the NFL, he has a much shorter rope in Pittsburgh than Watson does in Cleveland.
Watson’s still worth rostering over Pickett at this point, despite not being able to suit up for your fantasy lineup for the remainder of the season.
Should You Trade Watson for Sam Howell?
Fantasy managers will be somewhat split on Sam Howell and what to do with him from a dynasty standpoint. He’s currently leading the entire NFL in passing yards, but he’s still making plenty of mental mistakes that could lead the Washington coaching staff to believe he’s not the long-term answer.
Both players are QB2s at best for fantasy lineups, but Howell’s arrow seems to be pointing up while Watson’s is pointing down. If you can make a deal of Watson for Howell — who is still just 23 years old — I’d consider that move.
Should You Trade Watson for Jordan Love?
Unfortunately for fantasy managers that have had Jordan Love stashed on their dynasty bench since the 2020 NFL Draft, he has not lived up to the billing as a first-round QB, and there are serious doubts about whether or not he will even be the starting option in Green Bay next season.
If Love is replaced by the Packers regime, he’s highly unlikely to get a starting job anywhere else in the league next season. At best, he would enter into a QB competition with a relatively unproven option in another offense.
This means that Watson’s contract may be the saving grace for him staying above Love in the dynasty rankings — and the answer to this trade question — as it ensures that he will still be a starting QB for the foreseeable future. It may not be pretty, but I would still hold onto Watson in this scenario.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!
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