High-Variance Players: TE Ben Watson - Footballguys

The Footballguys staff discusses the high side and low side of Ben Watson

When August rolls around, the fantasy football community usually reaches a consensus on most players. Ben Watson isn't one of those players. While he's averaging somewhere around TE22, he has been ranked between 9 and 27 at his position. What are your thoughts on him? Is he underrated or overrated? Or neither?

Daniel Simpkins: He’s underrated. I’m seeing him go undrafted in some leagues and that is a big mistake. I know Watson is not the player he once was, but in that high-octane offense and with the familiarity that he already has in it, I think he’ll silence the doubters once again. Tight end is a position in which veteran savvy and an understanding of concepts can make you serviceable. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates are great examples of guys that folks thought were too old to be playing, yet continued to produce right up until calling it quits. Watson strikes me as a similar case.

Jason Wood: He's 19th in my rankings so I'm splitting the bit. Watson turns 38 years old this season, and he'll be breaking history the first time he catches a pass. Did you know there has never been a 38+-year-old tight end with 100+ yards in a season? Not a game, a season. Now, Watson happens to be one of only two tight ends with 500+ receiving yards as a 37-year old (Tony Gonzalez was the other), so anything is possible.

Matt Waldman: He's underrated because he's about to go where no tight end has gone before. Watson once chased down Champ Bailey from across the width and length of the entire field. At 38, he's no longer that kind of athlete but that incredible freakish ability was his starting point. Just like Gonzalez had a great starting point, so does Watson.

He'll return to the offensive that helped him author his last Pro Bowl just two years ago. And while I realize that my esteemed colleague believes athlete years are like dog years, Watson earned 61 catches for 522 yards and 4 scores while one year removed from an Achilles tear with Joe Flacco and the Ravens.

It was an effort that placed Watson 11th overall among tight ends in PPR leagues last year at age 37. Now he rejoins Drew Brees, who turns mediocre options into viable fantasy players. Heck, Wood might earn 75 yards this season with Brees if they let him on the field!

If Watson returned from his injury and didn't post starter production last year at age 37 and didn't have a Pro Bowl season at age 35, then the "breaking history" angle would be more compelling a point to avoid him. As it stands, Watson's recent work and reunion with Brees makes 500 yards more probable than possible.

Chad Parsons: Ben Watson is one of my favorite lower tight end plays of 2018. While old, Watson's career year came in New Orleans and their WR2 role is in question. Watson is the clear projected starter for the Saints tight end depth chart, and a top-10 finish is in play with 80+ targets and the Sean Payton-Drew Brees optimization factor. The key will be Watson's waning athleticism which has sapped some of his seam-stretching ability from his last stop in New Orleans.

Dany Hindery: Watson's will likely finish higher than TE22. He isn't the most exciting option, but he makes for an ideal TE2 draft pick if your TE1 is a high-risk pick (think Jordan Reed). Plus, if you wait at tight end, you could do worse than having Watson as a late-round TE1. His upside isn't sky-high, but he should be a solid enough starting option. Watson quietly finished as TE11 in Baltimore last season and was TE6 in his last season in New Orleans (2015).

Andy Hicks: Ben Watson has had a remarkably long career and as he turns 38 this year, he returns to the team where he had his best season in 2015. New Orleans can do with a productive tight end after they found Coby Fleener to underperform in his time with them, but it will be hard to rely on Watson too much. As the others have mentioned he will be breaking records by simply having a good game this year, let alone a 22nd ranked season. He has a use on a deep fantasy roster, but using him as a regular starter would be madness.

Phil Alexander: Dan has it right. You don't want to go into drafts targeting Watson as your starter and expecting his 2015 numbers. But for the cost of one of your last picks, he pairs nicely with an always-injured starter like Reed, or an unproven, high-upside option like Trey Burton or George Kittle. If Watson finished as the TE11 with Joe Flacco throwing him passes, he should be able to at least match those numbers in a Saints offense that has room for significant tight end targets.

Devin Knotts: Watson is nothing more than an upside player. If you're taking him in best balls, I really think you need to take three tight ends as while he could be a tremendous value, he is also 38 and coming off of one of the worst injuries someone could have which is the torn Achilles.

This is a situation where it is entirely based on your league type. In a best-ball format, I would argue he is overvalued as there is a strong chance he could be a zero. In a traditional league where you can cut him if he doesn't perform, he is undervalued as the upside he presents in the Saints offense could be a nice upside play.

Will Grant: In PPR leagues, unless there is an extra bonus for tight end receptions, I tend to avoid taking a second tight end. In best ball formats, as Devin pointed out, Watson may have upside, but you'll need a 3rd tight end as well because he could miss a few games this season as well.

If you are the type of owner who likes to draft a couple tight ends, Watson would be a decent choice as the 22nd tight end overall. If he performs well right out of the gate, you can trade him to a needy team. If he stumbles due to age, injury or anything else - you can easily cut him with minimal impact.