Arizona Cardinals star defensive end J.J. Watt suffered a shoulder injury in Week 7 against the Houston Texans. He was placed on injured reserve (IR), and he hasn’t been able to play since. With that being said, it’s possible for him to return for Arizona’s playoff run. Is Watt playing against the Cardinals this week, and how will he affect the game?
Update 01/17/22: J.J. Watt was activated earlier today and will officially play for the Cardinals tonight.
J.J. Watt’s 2021 production
Watt saw mixed results over his first seven games with Arizona this season. He recorded 16 total tackles, with 10 of them being solo. He also added 5 tackles for a loss with 1 sack. Furthermore, Watt added 10 QB hits to his totals this season.
He struggled early in the season. In his first four games, Watt recorded 7 tackles with only 1 for a loss and 3 QB hits. He wasn’t able to record any sacks in those games.
Watt then caught fire in Weeks 6 and 7 against the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. He totaled 8 tackles, including 2 for a loss. He added 1 sack, 6 QB hits, and 2 pass deflections in those games.
Watt only played 54% of the snaps in Week 8 before suffering his injury. He did record another tackle for a loss and QB hit before leaving the game.
How would Watt’s absence affect the Cardinals’ defense?
Although Watt has struggled at times this season, he’ll be an immediate upgrade to the Arizona defense. They were undefeated with Watt in the lineup, holding six of seven teams to 20 or fewer points (they only struggled against the Minnesota Vikings, allowing 33 points in Week 2).
Since Watt’s injury, Arizona’s given up more than 20 points in eight games. They specifically struggled against some weak offenses, including the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions. These teams combined for 64 points in wins against the Cardinals. Additionally, Arizona’s coming off a 38-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals will immediately benefit from Watt’s return.
Will Watt play vs. the Rams this week?
Watt suffered what was thought to be a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7 against the Houston Texans. He was placed on IR, but he’s now eligible to return for Arizona’s playoff run.
Watt returned to practice this week, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that there were “no issues at all” with him. He looks to be a full go, as he isn’t currently listed on Arizona’s injury report. Watt should return to his usual role, although he could see slightly limited snaps if the Cardinals want to “play it safe” in his first game back. Still, he’s likely to play around 80% of the snaps against Los Angeles this week.
Are fantasy points available vs. Los Angeles?
There aren’t many fantasy points available for Watt and Co. Los Angeles is allowing only 6.2 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses this season. This ranks 19th in the NFL.
Nonetheless, Watt’s return will also take away from the Rams’ offense. He’ll add reinforcements to Arizona’s run and pass defense. With that being said, he won’t make such a major difference that you need to bench your Los Angeles players.