One piece of upside with Deshaun Watson is obvious. He's around for a full season following a 2022 season where he was suspended 11 games following sexual assault allegations and sitting out the entire 2021 season due to his frustrations with the Texans. After coming back and playing in the final six games, Watson was a mid-QB2 at best. 2023 will be Watson's first full season since 2020. He should be a little less rusty and there's potential Cleveland could throw the ball more in 2023 with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones still around plus the acquisition of Elijah Moore from the Jets.
The downside is that Cleveland doesn't throw the ball more in 2023 and just feeds Nick Chubb and the other running backs. The other downside is that Watson simply doesn't regain his old form that made him so fantasy-effective in Houston. Fantasy managers seem to think he can with an ADP near the top 70.
2023 Bottom Line
Can Watson regain his 2018-2020 form? Hard to say, but he should be a little better than he was in 2022. Perhaps that was just rust, but temper expectations regardless for a team that loves to run the football with one of the best backs in the league in Nick Chubb. But Cleveland has a talented enough passing offense that should keep Watson fantasy-viable.