Preseason shouldn’t mean much in the way of evaluations for fantasy players. However, there is one exception. These ‘meaningless’ football games give the Fantasy community its’ first look at rookies. For eight long months, hardcore fantasy footballers have been dissecting every combine measurable, every play of every game, every statistic for every NFL rookie in an effort to find the next NFL superstar. More often than not, most of this research is moot once rookies step onto the NFL field for the first time. DeShaun Watson was one of the most prolific college QBs in history, but as he takes the field for the Texans’ preseason we can begin to evaluate him against NFL caliber players.
DeShaun Watson’s Preseason Week 2 stat line against the Patriots was bizarre. Three of ten passes for 102 yards and no TDs, with 4 rushes, 10 yards, and a rushing touchdown. Skimming over the Week 2 box scores, this one caught my eye as an extremely abnormal line. I started wondering how this went down. Did Watson attempt 5 or 6 deep passes, connecting on a few? To satisfy my curiosity, I watched this video of every DeShaun Watson play and took notes.
I walked away feeling that Watson was definitely not ready to start Week 1. For the second straight week, Watson’s accuracy suffered, mostly of his own doing. Watson stepped in and the Texans immediately started to move him around. The first play was a play-action roll out to the right where Watson tucked and ran for 0 yards. One of Watson’s strengths is his movement and the Texans will need to maximize it for him to be successful, which they didn’t do enough against New England. The next two passes fell incomplete. The first was a TE screen that the TE lost and the second was a ball batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Watson scrambled for eight yards on 3rd & 5 to pick up the first down. Again, Watson himself was the one to take off, but this play spoke volumes about his awareness. As he was flushed out of the pocket, Watson’s eyes remained downfield and he took the yards the defense gave him, getting out of bounds after getting the first. The decision not to force a pass, but instead to trust his physical abilities was impressive. The next pass Watson threw went for 33 yards, almost none of it of his own doing. Bruce Ellington took a six-yard slant and turned upfield for a 33 yard gain. Even on his second biggest play of the evening, Watson’s accuracy almost undermined him. His pass was behind Ellington and lacked touch, causing Ellington to juggle and nearly drop the pass.
The next five passes that he attempted were all poor in their own special way. He significantly overthrew a ball to the corner of the end zone. Next, as a pair of WRs were crossing the middle of the field, Watson rifled a pass right between them, with no clear target. On 3rd & 5, Watson threw a 10-yard pass wide and low, forcing Bruce Ellington to try to go the ground to corral the pass.
In the second half, Watson attempted his one deep shot of this game. He tried to throw a30-yard deep pass down the right sideline, but it was underthrown and didn’t give the WR a chance of making a play on the ball. Arm strength was on the biggest marks against Watson coming out of college with a 49 mph throw velocity at the NFL Combine, good enough for the 3rd percentile on PlayerProfiler.com.
Watson’s last two plays were definitely his best. He had a 63-yard completion to D’Onta Foreman and a two-yard rushing touchdown. Watson has Foreman to thank for the yardage. The throw itself was rocketed in between two crashing defenders and was placed perfectly, easily Watson’s best throw of the night. Too bad it only traveled four yards in the air. Foreman caught the pass and took off, running rampant through the Patriots secondary to set up Watson’s fancy touchdown run. This touchdown was pretty. Watson took a bootleg to the right where he was met by a Patriots defender. Watson promptly proceeded to cut in front of the defender and take the path up the middle, his second rushing touchdown of the preseason.
In review, Watson’s second week of NFL game action wasn’t inspiring or encouraging. His best throw was a four-yard slant and almost every other pass he attempted was inaccurate. Watson needs to improve his accuracy, but his awareness is refreshing. By examining Watson’s second NFL preseason game, it is fairly clear that he is not ready to start Week 1 for an NFL franchise with its’ sights set on the playoffs.