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Deshaun Watson Traded To Browns: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

Deshaun Watson Traded To Browns: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

Another day, another blockbuster deal in the NFL. Deshaun Watson met with multiple NFL teams throughout the week, and he was reportedly narrowing his list of preferred landing spots as the week went on. As the situation drew near a conclusion, it was reported that the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons were the two finalists. However, Watson reportedly had a change of heart on Friday morning and chose the Browns because they have the best roster of his suitors, and he wants to win. Now, the 26-year-old quarterback is headed to Cleveland, where he’ll be throwing passes to the recently acquired Amari Cooper.

What does Deshaun Watson’s trade mean for the quarterback and his new weapons in Cleveland? Andrew Erickson is here to break down the fantasy football implications of the deal.

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Just when we thought the Browns were out of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, they get right back as they acquire their future franchise quarterback with a blockbuster move. The team traded a lump sum of three first-round picks plus a third and fourth/fifth-round pick swap.

Watson to the Dawg Pound has massive fantasy implications that first and foremost boost the value of newly acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper. He finished last season 27th in half-PPR per game (11.2), which is in line with his career average.

His nine touchdowns were a career-high, but he was volatile as ever on a weekly basis. Cooper finished as a top-10 fantasy WR thrice, but outside WR3 territory in nine other contests. Part of his boom-or-bust nature was due to the high target competition in Dallas – Cooper commanded just a 15% target share.

There is hope that he can provide a higher floor if with him the clear No. 1 wide receiver in Cleveland. And that floor will be accompanied by an extremely high ceiling with Watson under center.

The ex-Texans quarterback fueled top fantasy WR finishes for the likes of Brandin Cooks (WR16, 2020) and Will Fuller (WR8/game, 2020) the last time he played. And prior to that, he supplemented DeAndre Hopkins as the fantasy WR4 and WR10 from 2018-2019. Cooper’s ADP is WR22 on Underdog Best Ball.

Donovan Peoples-Jones also becomes an intriguing late-round dart throw as the Browns’ other primary “X” receiver – assuming they don’t also bring in free agent Will Fuller. DPJ finished 2021 second in yards per catch (17.6).

Recently franchise-tagged tight end David Njoku also has a chance to break out in 2022 with Watson as his quarterback after an encouraging 2021. He set career highs in PFF grade (70.9, 11th), yards per route run (1.54, 11th), and yards after the catch per reception (7.0, fourth) in 2021.

The Browns are going to release Austin Hooper, which should open up the opportunity for Njoku to take a major leap.

As for the running backs, it’s also a win. More red-zone drives and a better offensive environment will create more scoring opportunities for both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The corpse of David Johnson finished as a top-20 fantasy running back with eight touchdowns playing alongside Watson in 2020.

As for Watson himself, he’s a no-doubt top-five option when he gets back on the field. He was exactly that from 2019-2020, and there is no reason to think the 26-year old won’t pick up where he left off. During his last season of play, Watson led the NFL in passing yards and yards per attempt (8.9).

Just be wary that a 4-8 game suspension will likely be coming down for Watson. However, that would not shy me away from him or any of his teammates because fantasy leagues are won in November/December – not September.
– Andrew Erickson

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