Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games: Fantasy Football Impact


After months of speculation, we finally reached a conclusion in the Deshaun Watson suspension saga. The initial ruling of six-games from Judge Sue Robinson has been increased to 11 games along with a $5 million fine and mandatory counseling after the NFL and the NFLPA reached a settlement Thursday. Per the NFL, the suspension begins after final roster cutdown with Watson eligible for reinstatement Nov. 28.


That reinstatement date comes in Week 13 of the NFL season, which essentially has Watson unavailable for all but two games in the fantasy football regular season. Missing 86% of the fantasy regular season makes Watson undraftable in upcoming fantasy football drafts, though we will want to get out in front of his return and pick him up off waivers as we reach the midpoint of the season. We’ll discuss that timing in our weekly waiver wire advice throughout the regular season.

For now, the Browns are left with Jacoby Brissett as their starter. There were some rumblings that the team could make a move for Jimmy Garoppolo, though nothing has materialized on that front. While Brissett isn’t optimal, he does have experience as a starter, performing in that capacity with the Patriots, Colts and Dolphins. Brissett doesn’t have much fantasy football appeal, but he should be rostered early in the season in 2QB/superflex leagues if the Browns don’t make a move at the position.

However, the bigger impact of Watson’s extended suspension will be on Amari Cooper and David Njoku. Fantasy football managers tend to overreact to news, so expect that to be the case here. We’re especially likely to see Cooper’s stock drop in upcoming fantasy drafts. While Brissett is an obvious downgrade from Watson, Cooper is still position well as the clear top target in the offense. As a higher volume receiver, he’s a good bet to present excellent value and cheaper price.

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Of course, the Browns will remain a run-heavy team without Watson. That’s good news for Nick Chubb, who is one of the league’s best early-down runners. But as we’ve noted many times in the offseason, Chubb’s value will continue to be capped by Kareem Hunt’s role in the offense. Chubb could see a slight uptick in work without Watson, but it isn’t enough to propel him into the top 10 fantasy running backs. As for Hunt, he remains an RB3 option whose value is capped by limited work in the run game.

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