One more of the NFL season’s starting-quarterback dominos fell Friday, with the New Orleans Saints opting to open the season with Jameis Winston under center instead of Taysom Hill, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, spent last year as the Saints’ No. 3 quarterback. He played in four games and went 7-of-11 passing for 75 yards on the season. In 2019 in Tampa, Winston finished as the fantasy QB5, throwing for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. But he added a league-leading 30 interceptions, the most in a year since Vinny Testaverde’s 35 in 1988.
Hill, meanwhile, started four games at quarterback for the Saints last year when then-starter Drew Brees was injured and threw for 834 yards and 4 TDs on 82-of-114 passing, adding 4 touchdowns and 209 yards on the ground.
Jameis Winston named New Orleans starter, Fantasy Football Impact
Fantasy analysis: It’s hard to even call this the higher-risk, higher-reward option, because Hill is such an unconventional quarterback that, if he had been named the starter, the range of outcomes was enormous. But what we can say is that Winston is far less likely to tuck and run than Hill is — Hill had 209 rushing yards in his four starts last year, while Winston averaged 208.8 yards per season in his five years with the Bucs. That could mean good things for Alvin Kamara, who risked losing checkdown and short work if Hill started.
If Winston is as haphazard with the ball as he was in Tampa, it could lead to a lot of fantasy volatility among the receivers, but the weekly ceilings for Marquez Callaway and/or Tre’Quan Smith could be enormous, because Winston’s play style paired with theirs could lead to multiple explosive plays, as we saw from the Winston/Callaway connection in Week 2 of the preseason.
With Winston the starter, his ADP (currently QB29 per the FTN Fantasy ADP tool) should skyrocket. Don’t be surprised if he’s going in the mid-QB2 range in drafts the rest of the way, and that’s a deserved slot — he could easily return QB1 value, though the risk of Hill coming in for occasional gadget plays and such could limit Winston’s overall upside. This move also helps solidify Kamara as the probably RB3 in drafts, though he was already going there anyway. — Daniel Kelley