Fantasy owners with their eye on the playoffs received a brutal blow Thursday afternoon when the news broke that Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice. The initial reports were just that he hurt his knee, but it wasn't serious. However, that did not turn out to be the case as the severity of the injury changed and the Texans eventually confirmed the terrible news (and Watson’s owners probably cried).
In re-draft leagues, Watson is now droppable. Most quarterbacks on the waiver wire for Week 9 are not usually fantasy options, but some Watson owners are probably desperate, especially with six teams on bye. So with Week 9 only in mind (and not including Tyrod Taylor or Josh McCown since they played Thursday night), here are some potential replacement options.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals (26 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Bortles has scored a touchdown in every game but one so far this year. The Jacksonville defense has stepped up, so the garbage-time points have been less frequent this year. Last week, against the Colts, Bortles threw for 330 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have done pretty well against QBs this year but Jacksonville’s defense could set Bortles and the offense up with a short field by way of a turnover or simply give it more possessions via three-and-outs.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (20 percent owned)
While his Week 7 performance when the Colts were shutout was forgettable, in Week 8 Brissett threw a pair of touchdown passes. He's seemed to develop a nice rapport with tight end Jack Doyle, who had 12 catches (on 14 targets) for 121 yards and a touchdown last week. Brissett also makes plays with his legs, as he has three rushing touchdowns, and he’s taken pretty good care of the football (4 INTs, a fumble lost). Houston’s defense has been devastated by injuries, so the matchup is a good one for Brissett.
Jay Cutler, QB, Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders (13 percent owned)
Cutler is expected back after missing last week’s 40-0 whitewashing courtesy of Baltimore. Cutler had put two decent games together prior to the injury (2 TD passes in each) and he also should have wide receiver DeVante Parker back this week. This offense will look different with Jay Ajayi now in Philadelphia, so maybe the Dolphins will let Cutler throw it some more. The matchup against the Raiders, who are making the cross-country trip, isn’t a bad one.
Brett Hundley, QB, Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions (10 percent owned)
Hundley’s lone start thus far was certainly forgettable. He finished with 87 passing yards and an interception. Aaron Jones powered the offense, but maybe the bye came at the right time for Hundley. The problem with Hundley is that he doesn’t play until Monday night, so you have to be willing to wait, and Detroit has been pretty solid against quarterbacks. Although a struggling Ben Roethlisberger did just put up 317 yards with a touchdown on the Lions this past Sunday night.
Tom Savage, QB, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts (4 percent owned)
Fantasy owners that are truly desperate and have a picked-over waiver wire can likely grab Savage. So far this season, he has negative fantasy points (62 yards and two fumbles in Week 1). However, he is the starting quarterback for the Texans, and he has DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller to throw to. He did beat out Deshaun Watson for the starting job in Week 1, but it's clear that Watson is the better quarterback. The positive for Savage is that he does know the offense and can step back into that role.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Deshaun Watson photo courtesy of www.houstontexans.com)