The beginning of Deshaun Watson’s return campaign in 2023 hasn’t exactly gone according to plan with the first half of his season marred by a shoulder injury saga that drew way more attention than was necessary. That storyline was punctuated by an abysmal outing in Week 7 against Indianapolis when Watson returned to play just 16% of the team’s offensive snaps en route to completing just one of his five passes for five yards and an interception. For many, it’s been that performance that has lingered in their minds when it comes to Deshaun Watson’s outlook for the rest of the season, but does that game truly tell the whole story of what Watson has in store for the second half of the year?
In four games this season where Watson starts and plays 90+% of the Browns’ offensive snaps, he’s averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game – which would tie Sam Howell and Justin Fields for the ninth-most on average this season. That number ranks above the likes of Dak Prescott (18.2), Jared Goff (17.9), and Brock Purdy (17.9). He also has three weekly top-10 finishes in those four full games with seven total touchdowns and three interceptions.
But wait, there’s more: while it should be conceded that Watson and the Browns have a very tough test ahead of them in Week 10 going to Baltimore to face the Ravens, the schedule after that game is actually pretty favorable down the stretch. The Browns have already had their bye, and have dates with the Broncos, Jaguars, and Bears in three of their five games from Week 11-15. For anyone keeping track at home: that’s three matchups against teams inside the top-7 for most fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position so far this season. Could we start to see Watson turn back the clock and look more like his old self on the NFL season’s back nine?