Believe it or not, J.J. Watt is only 24 years old. He has only played two seasons in the NFL, and is already considered one of the best defenders in the league. Watt anchored the Houston Texans defense en route to their first ever playoff victory in 2012. What can we expect from Watt in 2013?
Watt had one of the best seasons possible for a defensive end in 2012. He led the position with 69 solo tackles, 39 of which were for lost yardage. He led the position with 16 defended passes, seven more than second place Corey Liuget. He tied for fourth in the position with four forced fumbles and recovered two of them. But the big stat that had everyone buzzing was the 20.5 sacks, good enough to lead the entire league.
Even more is that he did most of that without Brian Cushing, who missed 11 games due to injury. With a healthy Cushing and the addition of Ed Reed, Watt is without question the top hyped IDP prospect for 2013.
With an already solid secondary manned my Danieal Manning, the addition of Reed will really make opposing offensive coordinators think twice before throwing deep on Houston. With Cushing healthy those opposing OCs are in a pick your poison scenario. Do they want to risk getting picked off by perhaps the best DB in the history of the game? Do they want to take a chance on getting by a linebacker who was the 2009 Rookie of the Year and is only getting better? Do they want to risk play action knowing that Watt can either get past pretty much anyone that tries to block him or at least get his hand in the passing lane causing the ball to go who knows where?
There is no right answer, only Watt in your way. Common sense and history indicates that Watt won’t replicate his success to the same degree in 2013, but this is a man who turned down a full scholarship because he wanted to walk on to a team that had already passed on him. I don’t want to bet against him.
The schedule is about as close to perfect as you could want for Watt this season. Outside of games against the New England Patriots (week 13) Indianapolis Colts (15) and Denver Broncos (16) the rest of the schedule is against what I consider run first teams. Even the games against the Patriots, Colts and Broncos should feature ample opportunity for Watt to do his thing as those teams finished 2012 12th, 10th and fourth respectively in time of possession.
There will be downsides to Watt this season. After getting as much attention as he did last season, the oppositions will be looking at lots and lots of tape on Watt. The league is constantly evolving and the OCs will adapt new strategies to attempt to contain him. There is also the probability that he will be the first defensive player taken off the board this season. I’ve seen more than a few IDP drafts where Watt is a fourth round pick. While he blew away the competition at his position last season, will that ADP be the worth the production? I’m not sure, but I really hope so; it’s hard not to pull for a guy who takes firefighters to dinner and gives all sorts of love to the community.
But is he really worth a fourth or fifth round pick? I can see him netting 80 tackles, three forced fumbles, 18 sacks, and 17 passes defended, but I have my doubts that production can’t be replicated deeper in the draft. The sacks are going to be hard to replicate, but there are other big name linemen/ends that seem to have been forgotten in fantasy. It was just two years ago that Jason Pierre-Paul was being anointed the next Jared Allen. While Watt is certainly exceptional, I wouldn’t burn a fourth or fifth round choice on him. If he slides to somewhere around eight or nine and he is still on the board, I would go for him then.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.