Watson will be suspended for the first 6 games of the season.
The bottom line here is that Watson’s fantasy outlook depends entirely on what the league decides to do. If the NFL continues to wait on what seems like inevitable discipline, then expect the talent to take over and make Watson a top-12 performer – with upside into the top 3. A suspension, on the other hand, looks like it could be a year or more. The closer we get to the season without action, the more likely it seems that Watson will play.
Watson was traded to Cleveland after sitting out the entire 2021 season. Prior to the lost year, Watson finished as a top-five fantasy QB in three straight seasons and it could have been four if not for a torn ACL as a rookie in 2017. The dual-threat playmaker ranked no lower than sixth among QBs in rushing yards in each of his last three seasons, while adding 15 TDs with his legs along the way. Watson's passing ability showed continual improvement, as he paced the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and YPA (8.9), while posting 33 TDs and just 7 INTs in 2020. Amari Cooper aside, Watson doesn't have a standout group of targets in Cleveland, but the offensive line is outstanding and his rushing prowess supplies him with elite fantasy upside. Watson will be suspended for the first six games of the season, so if you draft him, have an early-season replacement on your roster.
Cleveland's trade for Deshaun Watson adds a new ceiling to the Cleveland offense. While Watson still has legal troubles in the form of civil litigation and potential suspension, he will not be criminally prosecuted regarding alleged sexually abusive conduct. Watson is the active leader in yards per attempt passing and ranks third all-time. Watson finished as QB4 in 2020, while leading the league in passing on the 10th most attempts in the league. The suspension and potential rust concerns after Watson missed the 2021 season are watches, but he has QB1 overall within his range of outcomes.