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Deshaun Watson traded to Cleveland: The Dynasty Fantasy Football Impact

We break down the stunning move of Deshaun Watson to Cleveland.

For the better part of the past two years, quarterback Deshaun Watson has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From his demand to be traded from Houston to the 22 different sexual assault allegations, to the Texans making him inactive for the entire 2021 campaign, Watson has simply been a storm of controversy for quite some time. However, after a grand jury decided to not bring criminal charges against him last week, teams obviously decided he was finally someone worthy of trading for and the floodgates opened quickly with several teams interested in adding the former All-Pro who is squarely still in his prime. While Watson is still facing civil suits and could face a league suspension, that didn’t stop teams like Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, New Orleans and Carolina to aggressively vie for his services.

In the end, it was the Cleveland Browns who convinced Watson to waive his no trade clause and will now come up with a package in exchange for his services. They’re also reportedly signing him to a record setting, fully guaranteed extension for five years and a whopping $230 million fully guaranteed. Many thought Houston was crazy for asking for what they did, but kudos to them because they got three first round picks and more from the Browns in the end. It’s a huge stunner as many felt Atlanta or New Orleans was going to win out. In fact, I had an article already written for both the Saints and Falcons getting him. I guess those will go in the trash now. The upcoming trade is going to be a huge one in dynasty leagues and has some major ramifications.

Let’s take a look at the players involved.

Deshaun Watson, QB CLE

On the field, there’s no doubt Watson is a franchise-caliber player and elite dynasty QB1. Over his four seasons in Houston, he’s recorded 14,539 passing yards, with 104 touchdowns and just 36 interceptions. Throw in another 1,600+ rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns and you have yourself a total dual-threat stud in fantasy and reality. The last time we saw Watson on the field, he was posting a career-high 4,823 passing yards (a league high) and 33 touchdowns in the 2020 season.

The Browns have had a record number of failed quarterbacks over the years and even though Baker Mayfield showed some signs of life, he was never able to fulfill his potential after being an overall number one pick for Cleveland. Watson will be the best quarterback (at least in talent) the Browns have ever had and will immediately put them back into contention.

At this point, Watson needs to be treated as a low-end QB1 simply because he could still be suspended for part of next season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. However, this could be a decent time to buy as Cleveland will do everything they can to surround Watson with weapons in the future. He may be a short-term low-end QB1, but he should ascend back to elite status as early as 2023. He’s on a team that’s going to be very competitive and loaded with talent.

Amari Cooper, WR CLE

Cooper’s value was on life support after leaving Dallas and ending up with Cleveland. This trade changes a lot for his short and long-term prospects in dynasty leagues now. Over his eight year career in the NFL (spent solely with the Raiders and Cowboys), Cooper has amassed 517 catches, 7,076 receiving yards and 46 touchdowns. Over that same span, Cooper has proven to be one of the more unreliable players in the league. Last season was a perfect example as he recorded 13 catches for 139 yards and two scores on opening day, then had just one 100-yard game the rest of the way and no other multi-touchdown performances.

With Cleveland, he’ll again find himself as a WR1 on his team. With Watson at the helm, he will likely be the number one target in the passing game for a quarterback who’s actually likely better than Dak Prescott. Still, he’s a great best-ball target and good for some great games, but again, he should be treated as a WR2 next year instead of a WR1 because of his tendency to be so streaky. Still, this is an unexpected boost for Cooper’s value and he’s a great target for contending teams yet again or a fantastic player to sell high on if you’re a team not in position to win in your dynasty league. After all, his ceiling is higher with Deshaun Watson than Baker Mayfield.

Browns Skill Players

It’s hard to not to love this deal for the likes of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Njoku and every other skill player for the Browns. None of them are included in the deal, they’re all clear winners now and each of their values is going to get a boost as they get more than competent quarterback play now in the long-term.

Baker Mayfield, QB CLE

In true Baker Mayfield fashion, his feelings were hurt when the Browns attempted to lure Watson to Cleveland. In fact, Mayfield demanded a trade and said the relationship with Cleveland was beyond repair even before Watson decided to go there. Well, the somewhat petulant Mayfiled is going to get his wish with teams like Seattle and Indianapolis. Regardless, Mayfield has a long way to go to re-coup his value. Stay tuned.

Matt Ryan, QB ATL

Hmm. Now what!?!

The Falcons pushed Matt Ryan’s roster bonus to next week and his status is now in flux. Ryan may still get traded even though the Falcons missed out on Watson. Ryan has given his all to the Falcons franchise for 15 years. During his time in Atlanta, he has thrown for a whopping 59,735 yards, 367 touchdowns and just 170 interceptions while carving out a pretty solid case for the Hall of Fame. While Ryan struggled to a 3,968/22/12 line last year, it’s hard to get down on him too much as he was without both Julio Jones (who left in free agency) and Calvin Ridley (who left for mental health reasons) for basically the entire year. He could still get a fresh start somewhere with Seattle and Indianapolis both seemingly good options. At this point, Ryan is more of a QB2 than a QB1, but you could do worse for a spot starter, regardless of if Atlanta ultimately moves him.

Davis Mills, QB HOU

Mills may have been looking over his shoulder a bit after being thrown to the wolves last year, but that’s going to change in a big way now. Mills was really solid last year despite being set up for failure as he threw for 2,664 yards with 16 touchdowns and ten interceptions. When you consider the talent (or lack thereof) on the Texans last year and the fact he was a rookie, that’s not bad. Mills should get at least one more season to make some improvements and attempt to be the Texans long-term answer at the position. He’s a solid addition to a dynasty roster as a backup quarterback who has some long-term dynasty potential.

Drew Lock, QB SEA

The Seahawks were clearly in the Watson sweepstakes, but he refused to even interview with them. Yikes. With Watson now in Cleveland, Seattle is still stuck with Drew Lock to replace Russell Wilson. Look for them to be active in the trade market if they’re not enamored with someone like Malik Willis in the upcoming draft. You could see them make a play for Ryan or Baker Mayfield in the coming days.

Sam Darnold, QB CAR

Darnold was a hot mess for Carolina last season, throwing for just 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 games. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he even lost his job to a broken down Cam Newton midway through the season. The Panthers were desperate to get Watson and failed to convince him to move to Charlotte. At this point, Darnold is on top of the depth chart, but it’s impossible to see them going into the year with him at the helm, especially with Matt Rhule under fire. Darnold is on the cusp of irrelevance in dynasty leagues.

Jameis Winston, QB FA

With Watson choosing Cleveland over New Orleans, it’s more than likely Winston will sign with the Saints to be their starter next season. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, but New Orleans has a need and it doesn’t seem they believe Taysom Hill is going to be the answer.



Ken Kelly
Deshaun Watson traded to Cleveland: The Dynasty Fantasy Football Impact
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6 months ago

Great article Ken! Thanks! I’m hoping DPJ can be their Will Fuller in this offense and Watson loves to chuck it when he scrambles.

Slick M.
6 months ago

Great stuff Ken! In record time. I like Harrison Bryant as a sleeper. I also like whatever rookie they add with the pick(s) they get for Baker. Basically any young pass catchers should be added!

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