On Thursday November 2nd, Houston Texans fans, fantasy owners and everyone one in the NFL all held their breath as reports surfaced that Deshaun Watson had torn his ACL at practice. Unfortunately, the reports turned out to be true and Watson is done for the year. The only good news for Watson is it’s not the same ACL he torn in college and he should be ready to go for training camp this summer.
Now the Texans hand over the starter job back to Tom Savage and hope he can keep the Texans in the playoff hunt. Fantasy owners now have to figure out how to replace the QB1 for the rest of the season. While Savage will replace Watson for the Texans, he shouldn’t replace Watson in your fantasy line up. Below are three quarterbacks who are owned in under 50% of ESPN league that can help Watson fantasy owners for the rest of the season.
Eli Manning (47% owned)
Three of the top four Giants’ wide receivers are out for the season with injuries, but Manning still has two strong pass catchers available to him. In the two games since all the injuries to all the wide receivers in week five, Evan Engram is has 11 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. To pair with Engram, Manning has Sterling Shepard, who hasn’t played since week five. In five games this season, Shepard has three games with five plus catches and 40 or more yards.
Despite losing Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall for the season, combined with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Manning is still averaging 14 fantasy points per game. However, when Manning has a good match up he is averages 19 fantasy points per game. After this week against the Rams, Manning faces eight straight good match ups to finish out the season; including the 49ers, Cowboys and Redskins twice. While Manning doesn’t have the upside of Watson, his schedule gives fantasy owners hope.
Jared Goff (46% owned)
Much like Manning, Goff has a pretty easy schedule the rest of the season. However, Goff has to face the Seahawks, in Seattle, week 15; a match up I wouldn’t touch. Unlike Manning, Goff still has his full offense around him. The Rams are one of just six teams that have three receivers averaging eight or more fantasy points per game. The Rams also have the top scoring running back, Todd Gurley, averaging 3.9 catches per game. The Rams offense is second in the league in scoring, averaging 30.3 points per game, just behind the Texans at 30.7 points per game. The offense has proven they have the weapons to score and Goff is at the helm of that attack.
Last season Goff scored just 63.2 fantasy points in seven games, but over his first seven games this season he has scored 105.3 fantasy points. Goff is averaging six more fantasy points per game this season. Despite two games against two of the best defenses in the league, Goff is averaging 15 fantasy points per game. In games where Goff has a good match up this season he is averaging 17.5 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, over his last nine games of the season, Goff has six good match ups, including three during the fantasy playoffs. The Rams offense lead by Goff has scored almost the same points per game as Watson’s Texans have; Goff has the weapons to keep it up.
Josh McCown (36% owned)
Most people were expecting the Jets to struggle this season and tank in hope of finding their franchise quarterback. However, the Jets are 4-5 and only 1.5 games out of the playoff picture. Many expected the Jets to be terrible and have no real fantasy players, but that hasn’t been the case. The Jets have two running backs (Bilal Powell, Matt Forte) in the top 33, two wide receivers (Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse) in the top 29 and Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the TE12 despite missing the first two games of the season. The Jets have plenty of weapons for McCown to use the rest of the season. Any chance that the team pulls McCown for either Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg are almost zero at this point.
Fantasy owners will have to wait till Tuesday to get McCown as he played Thursday night. McCown has been surprisingly good this season, averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game. However, unlike Manning and Goff, McCown still has his bye week coming in week 11 and has a tough fantasy playoff schedule. Between weeks 10 and 13, McCown has two easy match ups and his bye. However, during the fantasy playoffs, McCown has three bad match ups including the Broncos in Denver. The only good match up is in week 17 at the Patriots, and some fantasy leagues don’t play week 17. McCown has played well this season and while the fantasy playoff match ups aren’t friendly, McCown is currently QB9.
Losing Watson is a killer for the Texans and fantasy owners. There isn’t a quarterback on the waiver wire that can replace Watson’s fantasy value. Fantasy owners could always try to swing a trade for another quarterback but that could cost some serious FLEX depth. All three of the above quarterbacks are solid options but my preference would be Goff, Manning and then McCown. However, if fantasy owners can afford to roster two of these quarterbacks and play the match ups, that would be ideal.