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  • Without Watson under center, the remainder of the Texans' offensive players go tumbling down the fantasy football rankings.
By Michael Beller
November 02, 2017

The news hit on Thursday like a gut punch to NFL Twitter, the fantasy football world, football fans everywhere, Astros fans still basking in the glow of the team’s first World Series and really anyone who likes fun anywhere. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport broke the news that Deshaun Watson tore his ACL during practice, and will be out for the rest of the season.

This should go without saying: this obviously goes well beyond fantasy football. Watson is a person, and, by all accounts, a thoroughly great one. He suffered a devastating injury doing something he loves, and won’t be able to pursue his profession at the highest level for about the next year. No one’s fantasy team means a thing compared with that.

We still have a job to do, though, so let’s consider this Watson injury from a fantasy standpoint. First, unless you’re in a superflex or two-quarterback league, Tom Savage is irrelevant in fantasy leagues until he proves otherwise. We can’t dismiss him out of hand as an NFL quarterback—what we’ve seen hasn’t been pretty, but he’s only attempted 105 passes in his career.

If you’re a Watson owner, no quarterback you add will make you whole. Using a 60% ownership rate as the cutoff for realistically available quarterbacks, the options you’ll want to consider are, in order of rest-of-season value, Andy Dalton, Josh McCown, Eli Manning and Jacoby Brissett. Coincidentally, those four are also the answer to “which four quarterbacks in the NFL are the least like Watson from a fun standpoint,” so that’s another cruel twist on this situation. If you want to swing for the fences, you could take a shot on Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater, and hope that you pick the right one for the second half of the Vikings season. Or, you could take a shot on a player the Texans should absolutely get on the phone.

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How about Colin Kaepernick? If you have a roster spot that you can play with, it’s worth a shot on the 1% chance that Kaepernick drops his lawsuit and ends up in Houston.

Kaepernick isn’t as good as Watson, but he has a similar skill set and the Texans wouldn’t have to change their offensive scheme much, if at all. Whether they would cross that bridge with Kaepernick is a question for owner Bob McNair, GM Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien, but I am certain he gives them a better chance to win the AFC South than Savage.

The Watson injury is a disaster for everyone of fantasy relevance in the Texans offense. DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the top fantasy receiver the rest of the season, drops to WR2 territory. Will Fuller was a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 with Watson at the helm, but with Savage, he is—at best—a fringe WR3. Lamar Miller was an easy RB1, likely somewhere in the 8 to 12 range for the rest of the season in the RB rankings. He’s now mired in RB2 land, rubbing elbows with C.J. Anderson, Carlos Hyde and Jerick McKinnon.

David Johnson. Odell Beckham. Dalvin Cook. Aaron Rodgers. Deshaun Watson. Are we sure we want to finish this season, or should we just fast-forward this thing to 2018?

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