Coming off a torn ACL and making his seventh NFL start, some struggles could have been expected for Deshaun Watson in Week 1. But he fumbled on the first snap of the game against the New England Patriots, and finished 17-for-34 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception along with 40 rushing yards on eight attempts.
Watson called his season-opening performance “terrible”, and head coach Bill O’Brien is optimistic his second-year signal caller will get better.
But should Watson’s fantasy owners already be panicking?
Watson dropped back 42 times in Week 1. He was under pressure 23 times, which was good for the highest pressure rate in the league for the week. A bad offensive line got a little worse with right tackle Seantrel Henderson going down with a season-ending ankle injury against the Patriots, so Watson stands to be under duress frequently going forward.
Then there’s this note, from NFL Network fantasy guru Michael Fabiano, regarding Watson’s deficiencies when under pressure.
Interesting notes on DeShaun Watson, per NextGen Stats. pic.twitter.com/eqgmeiOMGJ
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 11, 2018
Week 2 brings a matchup with the Tennessee Titans, who Watson threw for 283 yards with five total touchdowns (four passing) against last year. But as NFL Next Gen Stats cites above, the arrival of new head coach Mike Vrabel has brought a different defensive philosophy and it showed in Week 1 with the second-highest pressure rate for the week. But Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill still delivered a decent fantasy outing, with 230 yards and two touchdowns (two interceptions) for 19.6 fantasy points (Yahoo! scoring).
Over the next several weeks, after the Titans in Week 2, Watson has what look like favorable matchups against the New York Giants (Week 3), Indianapolis Colts (Week 4), Buffalo Bills (Week 6) and Miami Dolphins (Week 8). The Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 could be a decent matchup too, but the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 7) and Denver Broncos (Week 9) clearly stand out as the toughest of the bunch.
If Watson is the only quarterback on your fantasy roster, adding someone for depth is a good idea. Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco or even Sam Darnold are worth consideration. You’re not benching Watson for all of those guys in Week 2, but Keenum, Smith and Taylor stand out as streaming options if that’s on your radar.
One bad game should be regarded as just that-one bad game. If it becomes a multi-game trend over the rest of September, then Watson’s fantasy owners can get genuinely worried. For now the panic button can be hovered over, but pressing it is an overreaction.
Deshaun Watson Panic Percentage: 50%
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