Deshaun Watson got my attention last night. He looked very solid. He’s better right now than Tom Savage, I think, and it looks like a lot of the things he was able to do at Clemson will translate.
Watson went 15 of 25 in this game, completing a bunch of third downs. He also ran for a 15-yard touchdown after a pass play broke down – skipped into the end zone just the same way he did so often in college.
Mobility, I think, is the key. With Savage, he’s trapped as an immobile pocket passer. Both of their first two pass plays were blown up because of pressure, and he can’t get out of those situations.
Watson isn’t quite as fast as Marcus Mariota or Russell Wilson, but he’s got a really good feel for quickly motoring out of harm’s way. He’s able to work his way into positions where defenses must be concerned about him as both a runner and a passer. That helps to break down defenses. Like Russell Wilson, he’s got that point guard mentality where he can find guys while on the move. (He also smartly threw a couple of balls away.)
With Watson on the field, the Texans were able to work in a lot of bootlegs and rollouts, and it really helped the offense. Watson can run those plays, while Savage can’t.
I can’t say for certain that Watson will be an opening day starter, but I’m thinking he will be. He looks a lot better today than Carson Wentz did the day after his first preseason start. And whenever Watson takes over that offense, that mobility could make him a sneaky good fantasy value.
In standard fantasy formats, mobility tends to be a vastly underrated component for a quarterback’s game. Rushing yards tend to be worth twice as much, and rushing touchdowns tend to be worth almost twice as much.
Consider, for example, the 40 rookie quarterbacks in this century who have started at least half of the season. Then look at their per-start numbers. Five put up top-12 numbers, and they were all quarterbacks who really helped themselves by rushing – Newton, RG3, Young, Luck, Wilson.
On the chart below, I’ve got the 10 best rushing quarterbacks (of these 40) in bold. I’ve got the 10 worst running quarterbacks tagged with black dots. See the difference?
As often as Watson ran at Clemson, and seeing how he ran last night, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a top-10 running quarterback. Good chance, I think, that he’ll put up top-20 fantasy numbers in his first year.
|ROOKIE QB: PER GAME NUMBERS SINCE 2000 (8 starts)|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||16||253||1.31||44||.88||27.8||4|
|2012||Robert Griffin III, Wash.||15||213||1.33||54||.47||24.2||5|
|2006||Vince Young, Tenn.||13||159||.85||41||.54||18.8||9|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||16||273||1.44||16||.31||22.9||10|
|2012||Russell Wilson, Sea.||16||195||1.63||31||.25||20.8||12|
|2009||Matthew Stafford, Det.||10||227||1.30||11||.20||19.0||14|
|2006||Matt Leinart, Ariz.||11||227||1.00||5||.18||16.9||14|
|2015||Marcus Mariota, Tenn.||12||235||1.58||21||.25||22.2||16|
|2016||Dak Prescott, Dall.||16||229||1.44||18||.38||21.2||17|
|2015||Jameis Winston, T.B.||16||253||1.38||13||.38||21.8||17|
|2001||Chris Weinke, Car.||15||195||.73||9||.40||16.0||20|
|2003||Byron Leftwich, Jac.||13||207||.92||8||.15||15.8||20|
|2014||Teddy Bridgewater, Minn.||12||231||1.17||15||.08||18.6||21|
|2011||Andy Dalton, Cin.||16||212||1.25||10||.06||16.9||21|
|2008||Matt Ryan, Atl.||16||215||1.00||7||.06||15.9||21|
|2009||Josh Freeman, T.B.||9||204||1.11||17||.00||16.8||23|
|2011||Christian Ponder, Minn.||10||175||1.30||21||.00||16.1||24|
|2004||Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.||13||188||1.15||11||.08||15.6||24|
|2010||Sam Bradford, St.L.||16||220||1.13||4||.06||16.2||24|
|2013||EJ Manuel, Buff.||10||197||1.10||19||.20||17.7||25|
|2008||Joe Flacco, Balt.||16||186||.88||11||.13||14.8||26|
|2013||Geno Smith, NYJ||16||190||.75||23||.38||17.1||27|
|2014||Blake Bortles, Jac.||13||207||.69||30||.00||16.2||27|
|2010||Colt McCoy, Clev.||8||197||.75||17||.13||15.3||27|
|2016||Carson Wentz, Phil.||16||236||1.00||9||.13||17.8||27|
|2012||• Brandon Weeden, Clev.||15||226||.93||7||.00||15.8||27|
|2002||David Carr, Hou.||16||162||.56||18||.19||13.5||28|
|2012||Ryan Tannehill, Mia.||16||206||.75||13||.13||15.6||28|
|2009||Mark Sanchez, NYJ||15||163||.80||7||.20||13.5||28|
|2014||• Derek Carr, Oak.||16||204||1.31||6||.00||16.0||28|
|2007||• Trent Edwards, Buff.||9||170||.78||5||.00||12.2||29|
|2002||• Joey Harrington, Det.||12||187||1.00||0||.00||13.4||29|
|2001||Quincy Carter, Dall.||8||134||.63||19||.13||11.8||31|
|2003||• Kyle Boller, Balt.||9||139||.78||7||.00||11.6||31|
|2013||• Mike Glennon, T.B.||13||201||1.46||3||.00||16.2||31|
|2016||• Cody Kessler, Clev.||8||171||.75||2||.00||12.0||31|
|2006||Bruce Gradkowski, T.B.||11||149||.82||15||.00||12.2||32|
|2010||• Jimmy Clausen, Car.||10||150||.30||6||.00||9.3||32|
|2005||• Kyle Orton, Chi.||15||125||.60||3||.00||8.9||32|
|2011||• Blaine Gabbert, Jac.||14||154||.86||7||.00||11.8||33|