Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers, and New England Patriots … Judge Sue Robinson has made her ruling, and those are the teams Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will not face in 2022 after a six-game suspension was handed down.
The NFL could file an appeal over the next three days, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. If not, this is quite possibly the best-case scenario for fantasy football purposes.
Watson’s remaining schedule includes a return to the field at the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 and return home to face the Cincinnati Bengals prior to a Week 9 bye. The second half of his schedule is slightly easier than the six games he’ll miss, but that’s not to say it’s a walk in the park with matchups against Miami, Buffalo and Tampa from Weeks 10-12, respectively, including the first two on the road. He then has trips to Houston and Cincy, followed by consecutive home stands against Baltimore and New Orleans, ending with a pair of road games vs. Washington and Pittsburgh.
Fantasy football takeaway
Between a suspect receiving corps, an unproven tight end, and a difficult slate of matchups, Watson shouldn’t be drafted as more than a fringe starter. The talent level will keep him afloat with moderate matchups, but he’s not a slam dunk against the likes of Miami, Buffalo, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Secure a strong QB1 who can get you through the first six weeks and view Watson as a component of a strong roster build rather than the centerpiece. After all, you’re probably not going to make the postseason with a poor start during his absence.