Should I draft Deshaun Watson in 2021 fantasy football leagues?



Based on skill alone, Deshaun Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game right now. Despite the Texans’ ugly 4-12 record last year, Watson is coming off of a career season where he set personal highs in passing yards (4,823), touchdowns (33), and completion percentage (70.2%). He also had a career low in interceptions (7). Making Watson even more appealing as a fantasy football QB is his mobility, as he’s rushed for over 400 yards in three consecutive seasons (with 15 rushing touchdowns in that span). Of course, there’s a lot more to Watson’s 2021 fantasy outlook than just his skill, though, as lawsuits, criminal investigations, and trade requests have completely changed how he’s viewed. 

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet

A quick recap: Watson requested a trade early in the offseason, reportedly because of his unhappiness with the Texans stemming from their unwillingness to give him more of a say in the team’s coaching hire. In mid-March, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee announced in an Instagram post that he was filing a lawsuit against the Texans quarterback on behalf of a female masseuse who was accusing Watson of sexual misconduct.

Since the initial lawsuit, many other women have come forward, and now Watson is facing punishment from the league pending the results of the lawsuits and a criminal investigation.

2021 PPR FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

Deshaun Watson sexual assault allegations

Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct and sexual assault. In late July, 10 women filed police complaints against Watson. Eight of the 10 women who filed police complaints are among the 22 women who filed a civil lawsuit. In mid-August, Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin said the quarterback has met with investigators from the FBI.

2021 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

Will Deshaun Watson be suspended?

The NFL said it launched an investigation into the allegations against Watson a few days after the first lawsuit was filed. The investigation has been slow moving, and as of mid-August, NFL investigators have not spoken with Watson directly. Buzbee told The Athletic the NFL has interviewed 10 of the plaintiffs accusing Watson of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

The NFL has reportedly been working with the Houston Police Department and is “ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation.”

When asked about the investigation in April, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell offered a brief statement.

“We’re obviously following that and looking at that ourselves, independently,” Goodell said. “There are important steps that we will be taking as part of our personal conduct policy. When we get to that point, we will certainly make a decision.”

MORE 2021 FANTASY RANKINGS:
Superflex Top 200 | Superflex Top 200 PPR | IDP | Rookies | O-lines

Based on previous cases, it seems likely Watson will be suspended. The question is how long. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games by the NFL for his alleged role in a domestic violence case, even though the Columbus City Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against Elliott due to “conflicting and inconsistent information.”

Elliott’s case was a reminder of the league rules that the NFL holds the right to punish players within its personal conduct policy even if they are not formally charged. If Watson is charged, then we can expect an even longer suspension. Any sort of predictions would be completely speculative, but at this point, some level of suspension seems inevitable, though, again, it’s unclear how many games it will be and when it will kick in. It’s tough to imagine Watson starting the season on the active list. 

2021 FANTASY AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall

Will Deshaun Watson be traded?

Watson requested a trade early on in the offseason, and trade talks have subsided following the 20-plus civil lawsuits against the quarterback. The Texans were initially refusing to trade Watson, but a report by NFL Media in late July said the Texans are now open to the idea, although the team wants “at least three first-round picks and more.”

It’s almost impossible to imagine a team trading for Watson before we know the result of the civil lawsuits and criminal investigation. Having said that, it also seems like Watson has played his final snap with the Texans. Watson might be traded following the results of the civil lawsuits, but that seems so far away at the moment.

UPDATE 8/28: Watson reportedly vetoed a deal that would send him to the Eagles, and now the Dolphins appear to be front-runners if a trade is completed. 

Will Deshaun Watson play in 2021?

There’s nothing concrete on Watson’s playing status for 2021, but all signs point to him sitting this year out. He’s been at Texans training camp to avoid getting fined but has been a limited participant in practice. Watson was absent from the field in mid-August despite coach David Culley saying the quarterback wasn’t injured.

Considering Watson wants to be traded, it seems unlikely he’ll suit up for Houston to play in a game this year. As we mentioned before, it seems unlikely a team will trade for him before we know the results of the civil lawsuits. Watson’s playing status is in limbo.

Even if we get the results of the civil lawsuits by the start of the season, there’s a strong chance Watson misses significant time with a suspension.

UPDATE 8/30: Texans beat reporter Aaron Wilson tweeted that the Texans are “prepared” to declare Watson inactive for every game this season. 

2021 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team

Deshaun Watson fantasy ranking, ADP

SN Fantasy ranked 38 quarterbacks for the 2021 NFL season, and Watson is not one of them. Mock Draft sites still show Watson being drafted by some people, but he’s going in the double-digit rounds (likely by those in dynasty leagues). Even looking past all of the sexual misconduct allegations and trade rumors, Watson is in a bad spot on the Texans even if he did play. The Texans have an inexperienced receiving corps outside of Brandin Cooks and have loaded up on running backs by adding Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead to go with David Johnson.

2021 FANTASY TIERS & DRAFT STRATEGY:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight endD/ST

Deshaun Watson fantasy outlook 2021

Watson isn’t on our quarterback rankings for a reason. There’s a high probability he won’t play at all this season. He’ll most likely just be wasting a roster spot on your bench in redraft leagues. There are so many other quarterbacks in fantasy that offer value, so it really doesn’t seem worth it to add Watson. Also, I personally don’t even like carrying a backup quarterback on my roster, but that’s another debate.

In short, there are way too many things to sort out when it comes to Watson, so it’s best to avoid him all together in redraft leagues this year. If you want to grab him in dynasty leagues and hope he’s not out past this year, then by all means go for it in the late rounds, but even that comes with a small level of risk.





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