We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
The 2021 New Orleans Saints are venturing into recently unchartered territory without Drew Brees under center. Arguably the single most important position battle throughout training camp, the winner between ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers gunslinger Jameis Winston and whatever the hell you want to call Taysom Hill could swing the fantasy football landscape.
What follows is a breakdown on the strengths each quarterback brings to the table as well as what we should make of their best- and worst-case fantasy scenarios ahead of next season.
Watching Jameis play football is truly a special experience
I made up an “Entertainment Rate” metric during my ongoing effort to make Drew Lock look like a passable NFL quarterback. I wouldn’t call this leaderboard a great thing to find yourself near the top of, but man oh man does it help describe why some signal-callers are simply more fun to watch than others. The top-two “leaders” from the past four seasons are as follows with their difference in big-time throw rate rank and turnover-worthy play rate rank noted in parentheses (min. 200 dropbacks):
- 2020: Champion: Lock (-26). Runner-up: Patrick Mahomes (-18)
- 2019: Champion: Jameis Winston (-24). Runner-up: Matthew Stafford (-20)
- 2018: Champion: Ryan Fitzpatrick (-33). Runner-up: Josh Allen (-23)
- 2017: Champion: Deshaun Watson (-29). Runner-up: Carson Palmer (-25)
Certain quarterbacks cause you to perch up a bit more (for better and for worse) when Red Zone switches to their game; Winston is one of those players in spades. Some day grandparents will tell their kids exactly what it was like to experience Winston’s 2019 campaign. All the man did for the 7-9 Bucs was lead the league in passing yards (5,109) and interceptions (30) while boasting an asinine 10.9 yard average target depth.
Jameis never believes the play is dead and is forever searching for a game-changing moment. This has produced a rather hilarious lowlight reel over the years. Just realize the reason why 1.) Winston is such a gunslinger at heart, and 2.) he finds himself in another position to earn a starting job, comes down to the reality that he’s incredibly talented and capable of turning in some truly preposterous moments.
Football is more fun when Jameis Winston has a starting job pic.twitter.com/bO5M1XAy2V
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) July 7, 2020
The only reason why the Buccaneers stuck with Winston so long was because of this tantalizing upside he flashed at times. Even if Winston as a whole was largely a bad quarterback, he at least included some real highs with the much-chastised lows.
- PFF passing grade: 74.9 (No. 32 among 123 quarterbacks with 100 dropbacks since 2015)
- QB rating: 86.8 (No. 44)
- Big-time throw rate: 4.1% (tied for No. 43)
- Turnover-worthy play rate: 5.0% (tied for No. 89)
- Yards per attempt: 7.7 (tied for No. 15)
- Adjusted completion rate: 69.8% (No. 84)
- Average target depth: 10.8 (No. 4)
The latter metric is why many, like me, continue to want Winston to have a starting job in the NFL: Watching quarterbacks throw the ball downfield is objectively a fun time. Still, we’re looking at a quarterback who probably deserves to be on the fringe of a starting job simply by going off of what he’s achieved in his career.
And then we have Hill. Buckle your seatbelt.