Game-By-Game Projections: Deshaun Watson (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Speed kills. Deshaun Watson is going to have the time of his life with so many speedy receivers at his disposal. He has always been at his most explosive when Will Fuller was on the field, and he now has multiple speed demons. Even Randall Cobb, who is considered the slowest of the bunch, ran an impressive 4.46 at the 2011 NFL Combine. Each of the Texans’ three outside receivers runs a sub 4.4. Brandin Cooks ran a 4.33 at in 2014, Will Fuller ran a 4.32 in 2016, and Kenny Stills ran a 4.38 in 2013.
Losing DeAndre Hopkins is a major blow that may hurt his completion percentage, but adding Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb gives him the best overall group of wide receivers that he has ever had. He should take a particular shining to Randall Cobb in the slot role, an area of the field that he has yet to have a consistent weapon. The offensive line is also expected to improve this season, and it should be able to buy Watson more time before allowing pressures, quarterback hits, or sacks.
A top-five fantasy quarterback in each of his first two full seasons as a starter, Deshaun Watson is a safe bet to rank among the top-five once again. The Houston Texans schedule is not easy; in fact, we have it ranked as the 30th-toughest for any starting quarterback this season. However, he finally has the supporting cast to contend with the best the AFC has to offer. Facing the NFC North may not be ideal for wins and losses, but all but the matchup with the Chicago Bears project to be high-scoring affairs conducive to fantasy success. Let’s take a look at our projections.
Week 1: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Having Kansas City on the schedule to open the season means Deshaun Watson should kick off his season with a bang. The Texans should get demolished in this contest, which means that the Texans will lean on Watson’s arm and legs rather than trying to run the ball. Houston’s defense should be much better than last season, but they are still going to have trouble with the most explosive offense that the NFL has to offer. Fortunately, they get the top two teams in the league out of their way in their first two games. Watson should be good for at least two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, but he may add a pick into the mix. The rushing and passing yards seem more like floors for a contest that should feature sloppy defense and explosive offense from both sides.
Predicted stat line: 10 rushing attempts, 55 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 333 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one interception (31.82 fantasy points)
Week 2: Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
Depending on how you look at it, getting the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens out of the way to start the season is either a good thing or a bad thing. Both projected losses, starting the season 0-2 is what head coach firings are made of, a problem that could be exacerbated by having Pittsburgh and Minnesota next on the docket. However, these two contests could also serve as the ultimate tune-up for the Texans’ next 14 games. Pittsburgh in Week 3 will be a tough test, but after facing the Chiefs and Ravens in consecutive weeks, facing the Steelers will not feel daunting at all. As far as this actual contest is concerned, Watson should struggle a bit. He was below replacement level when he faced them last season, but that is more on the Ravens’ defensive effort than it is on Watson. That will also be the case here. If you have a bye week streamer rostered, this may be another week to consider starting them.
Predicted stat line: five rushing attempts, 18 rushing yards, 216 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions (12.44 fantasy points)
Week 3: Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 3’s date with the Steelers has the makings of an explosive shootout. Pittsburgh features one of the better defensive units in the league, so Watson is going to have his work cut out for him, especially if his offensive line can’t hold up. However, trailing in a contest is usually conducive to fantasy success from Watson. The Texans should be forced to throw early in this contest, leading to a 300-yard passing day from their signal-caller. He seems all but certain to add a rushing score to his projected three touchdown passes, and he should be able to post a top-five fantasy stat line.
Predicted stat line: 11 rushing attempts, 49 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 301 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception (33.94 fantasy points)
Week 4: Houston Texans vs. Minnesota Vikings
Watson should have a field day against the Vikings secondary. Potentially starting two rookie corners by Week 4, the Vikings’ secondary will struggle mightily with the speed of the Texans’ outside receivers. Randall Cobb should also be able to feast in the middle of the field. Minnesota will likely look to ride Dalvin Cook to start this contest, but they’ll quickly learn that airing it out is the only way to match the Texans’ explosiveness.
Predicted stat line: eight rushing attempts, 35 rushing yards, 354 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (33.36 fantasy points)
Week 5: Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Houston Texans will finally get a reprieve in Week 5, but they will need to be careful not to play down to their opponents. Watson should have a rock-solid outing, but his upside appears limited in a contest that Houston will not have to go very hard in. Expect a run-heavy game plan, with over 200 rushing yards coming from Watson and the backfield.
Predicted stat line: seven rushing attempts, 52 rushing yards, 274 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (24.16 fantasy points)
Week 6: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
In most instances, teams try to keep the opposing team’s quarterback off the field with a run-heavy gameplan. However, in Week 6, we may see the Texans look to control the clock to keep Derrick Henry off the field. Minimizing his impact on the defense and keeping them fresh for when they do have to face him will be key. Houston has the better offense, but a projected red-zone interception will alter the game flow and give the Titans the opening they need to pull this one out of the bag late. If the Titans can manage to get to double digits early, Waston’s passing yardage total could look very different.
Predicted stat line: four rushing attempts, 20 rushing yards, 237 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception (14.48 fantasy points)
Week 7: Houston Texans vs. Green Bay Packers
The Houston Texans are going to have a tough time dealing with the Packers’ pass rush, but they could have their way with their secondary if healthy. There are a few teams capable of dealing with the Texans’ speed and depth at the position, but the Green Bay Packers are not one of them. With pressure forcing him from the pocket, Watson is projected for at least one red-zone rushing score. He should have one of his better fantasy games of the season due to the offense trying to outscore Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Predicted stat line: eight rushing attempts, 42 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 322 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception (34.08 fantasy points)
Week 9: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
This should be a much tougher divisional battle than what we saw in Week 5. Fans or no fans, Jacksonville should be more prepared at home. They will have the benefit of knowing what to expect from the Texans’ wide receivers, and they may switch to a more zone-heavy scheme with some zone man concepts in order to contend with them. While Watson is actually projected to have more passing yardage than he did in Week 5, his rushing production should suffer as the Jaguars opt to leave a spy on him to prevent him from turning broken plays into first downs. Though he has a solid overall projected line, it may not be enough to place him as a QB1 for Week 9.
Predicted stat line: five rushing attempts, 26 rushing yards, 276 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (21.64 fantasy points)
Week 10: Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns
When the Houston Texans want to uncork their offense, there are very few teams built to stop them. Cleveland is a prime example. An outstanding franchise left tackle, a strong defensive line, two exciting young corners, and a talented rookie safety give the Browns one of the better defenses in the AFC, but they are still ill-equipped to deal with a team like Houston. Limiting Watson’s rushing yards is an accomplishment in itself, but asking a non-championship level defense to deal with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb is asking too much. The passing yardage and touchdown totals are based on the Browns being able to keep this contest competitive. If they cannot, we could see something closer to 250 yards and two passing touchdowns.
Predicted stat line: four rushing attempts, 31 rushing yards, 288 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (26.62 fantasy points)
Week 11: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Suddenly a hot ticket, Week 11’s matchup between Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson projects to be Sunday’s top game. The Patriots are expected to clamp down on the Texans’ passing attack, but stopping the run may be a different story. Watson will look to rely on his legs and short passes to keep the Texans competitive in this contest, and he should find Randall Cobb in the middle of the field for a touchdown strike.
Predicted stat line: 12 rushing attempts, 78 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; 239 passing yards, one passing touchdown, two interceptions (25.36 fantasy points)
Week 12: Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
The Houston Texans will have an interesting test against a Detroit Lions team that is expected to pick things up by this point of the season. Their defense is ascending, especially up front, and they may be able to force some quick drives if they can keep Watson under pressure. That said, the Lions don’t have the cornerback talent to deal with a healthy Texans wide receiver corps that’s essentially four deep. Watson should have a solid fantasy day, but his rushing yards will push him from QB2 to QB1 for the week.
Predicted stat line: seven rushing attempts, 44 rushing yards, 310 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (24.8 fantasy points)
Week 13: Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Houston Texans will look to take advantage of multiple turnovers to turn this contest into a rout. The Indianapolis Colts are a tough defensive unit, but that’s largely due to their front seven. They have some talent at corner, but they do not come without significant question marks. Dealing with the Texans wide receivers may be too much to handle for Xavier Rhodes, T.J. Carrie, and Rock Ya-Sin. Houston may go four-wide more often than usual to exploit the secondary and to open things up on the ground. Four projected touchdowns with 57 rushing yards and 287 passing yards should make Watson a top-five quarterback for Week 13.
Predicted stat line: six rushing attempts, 57 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 287 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception (35.18 fantasy points)
Week 14: Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
The strength of the Chicago Bears’ defense, especially the pass rush, is going to force the Houston Texans into a run-heavy, quick-strike offense. Watson should also stay home more than often. He will be content to let David and Duke Johnson go to work while he fires off passes on the later downs. This will help open things up for some deep strikes on play-action passes. The Texans should win this game rather easily, with the Bears unable to score enough to keep this contest competitive.
Predicted stat line: four rushing attempts, 16 rushing yards, 255 passing yards, one passing touchdown, zero interceptions (15.8 fantasy points)
Week 15: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Riding Jonathan Taylor from the start, the Indianapolis Colts should be a much more effective offense in Week 15. A more tightly contested matchup will allow the Colts to be more aggressive on defense in an effort to force sacks and/or turnovers. Watson should still be able to move the ball, but he may find himself under constant duress. Week 16 is one of the only occasions all season that he projects to leave the pocket to head downfield more than 10 times. Despite the endless pressures, Watson should still have a strong fantasy day as the Texans look to play catchup against an offense that looks much more locked-in than it did just two weeks ago.
Predicted stat line: 11 rushing attempts, 55 rushing yards, 271 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, zero interceptions (24.34 fantasy points)
Week 16: Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Aside from the front four and safeties, the Bengals lack any type of impact talents on the defensive side of the ball. Deshaun Watson and the speedster quartet should run roughshod over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16. After facing tough defenses in five of the last six contests, the Texans will look to step on the Bengals’ throats regardless of the score. While it will come against a suspect group of corners, the Texans will be able to show off their talented wide receiver room in this contest. His Week 16 projection should provide for a QB1 overall worthy performance.
Predicted stat line: 10 rushing attempts, 91 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 422 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception (42.98 fantasy points)
Week 17: Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Deshaun Watson could have a slow day at the office in Week 17. Houston will likely rest a number of starters, including Will Fuller and David Johnson, as they look to keep them healthy for the playoffs. Watson will still have weapons to work with, proven by the 255 projected passing yards, but he may find life much more difficult with Kenny Stills or Randall Cobb working as his number-two receiver.
Predicted stat line: four rushing attempts, 15 rushing yards, 255 passing yards, one passing touchdown, zero interceptions (15.7 fantasy points)
2020 Season Totals
Full Season Projection: 4,640 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 112 rushing attempts, 577 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns (401.3 fantasy points)
Deshaun Watson could very well have the best season of his career in his third season as a full-time starter. It sounds almost strange to say with the team giving away DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, but Watson has his best overall wide receiver group. It’s true that they lack the elite talent that Hopkins has, but being four deep at the position should allow the Texans to stay fresh and withstand any potential injuries.
Tytus Howard is expected to take over on the right side of the offensive line, and he should reduce the ridiculous amount of sacks that Watson has taken over the last two seasons. The acquisition of David Johnson should also help matters, as it gives the Texans a true workhorse type who will not need to come off the field, which would tip the offense’s hand. These are the two developments that should help Watson to improve on his current career highs of 4,165 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He scored 331.7 fantasy points that season, which ranked him fourth among quarterbacks, and his fantasy points per game average also placed him fourth.
He took a step back in 2019, throwing for slightly fewer yards per game (260.3 vs. 256.8) and a lower yards per attempt (8.2 vs. 7.8). He also threw more interceptions, finishing the season with 26 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, he played in just 15 games as opposed to 16 games in 2018, and he thus increased his passing touchdowns per game from 1.625 to 1.733. He would finish the season as the QB5 with 331.98 fantasy points, and as the QB2 in fantasy points per game with 22.13. His projected total of 401.3 fantasy points would have made him the QB2 in 2019, and it should be good for a top-three finish in 2020.
Deshaun Watson has consistently added to his fantasy totals with his rushing production. He does have some down games, but his legs often provide enough fantasy points to move from a QB2 performance on any given week to that of a QB1. He ran for 551 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2018 for 85.1 fantasy points, and he followed that up with 413 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 2019 for 83.3 fantasy points. He is projected to hit a new career-high of 577 rushing yards this season while chipping six rushing touchdowns. This would give him 87.7 fantasy points from his legs.
401.3 fantasy points would make for an incredible fantasy season, but such is the opportunity that Deshaun Watson finds before him. He has the speed around him on offense to take the next step in his development, and he should enjoy the best pass protection of his career. Currently the QB4 in consensus ADP, and the 57th player drafted overall, Watson has an excellent chance to exceed expectations and outperform his draft position.