Fantasy Football: 2019 outlook for Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston
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Fantasy Football: 2019 outlook for Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

We’re currently sitting in the quietest part of the year for the NFL. The draft is over, and the reactions from the fallout are also in the rearview mirror. Many fans are now turning their direction to fantasy football. It makes sense even if the regular season is still a few months away, and it will be a while before leagues have their official drafts.

It’s never too early though to gather as much information as possible in preparation. One position that isn’t viewed as the utmost important in fantasy football, and therefore, doesn’t receive a ton of attention is quarterback.

One reason is that the majority of leagues allow just one quarterback to be rostered. With a number of quality players at the position, most fantasy players prefer to wait until the later rounds to grab a starting quarterback. Trying to get one of the elite players like Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers is going to require using an early round selection, and miss out on a starting running back or wide receiver in that range. Last year, Mahomes had an ADP (Average Draft Position) in the 9th rounds, but that won’t be the case again this year.

It’s still crucial that fantasy players find a valuable starting quarterback to carry them through the season. So who could be this year’s Mahomes? Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is a strong candidate to be this year’s most valued based on draft position.

To be fair, Winston has been in this spot before and has been somewhat disappointing. Last year, however, was a strong showing by Winston in a limited fashion. Winston missed the first three games due to suspension, and Ryan Fitzpatrick played terrific in those three games. Eventually, Fitzpatrick did what Fitzpatrick does, and Winston was again inserted into the starting spot. The two would go back and forth as the season went on. Both players made a ton of mistakes, but they put up a ton of numbers in the process as well.

Winston and Fitzpatrick finished as the 21st and 27th quarterbacks in fantasy, respectively. If you combined their scores, however, as one Bucs’ quarterback, they would’ve finished as the second-best quarterback ahead of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.

Looking at 2019, the Buccaneers have a new head coach in Bruce Arians. He is well respected across the league, and he has an offensive-minded mentality. Tampa Bay’s offense was already pretty good in 2018, but it’s only expected to be better under Arians. With Fitzpatrick now out of the picture, this is Winston’s time to shine.

When he first took the job, Arians made it clear that he was a believer in Winston. In addition, the Bucs did not draft a quarterback this year and signed Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin to compete for the backup job. The path is clear for Winston to flourish in this offense, and he’ll need to.

Winston knows this is his final opportunity to show the organization that they were not mistaken when they took him with the number one overall pick in 2015. If he doesn’t prove so, the Bucs are certainly going to be looking for a replacement in 2020.

Nonetheless, Winston has the potential to finish as a top-five fantasy quarterback this year. For starters, the Bucs are still rebuilding at a number of positions. Even if Winston plays well, the Bucs overall are not expected to be very good. That means that Tampa will likely be playing from behind a ton and will need to rely on Winston’s passing arsenal. We could see several garbage time touchdowns from Winston that would only improve his fantasy production.

In early mock drafts, Winston is currently going off boards as the 12th quarterback taken with an ADP of 122.8. That means Winston is generally be taken in the 11th rounds of 12-team leagues. For a player with top-five potential at the position, that’s crazy value.

Arizona’s Kyler Murray is actually being taken one spot ahead of Winston. While there is a lot of buzz surrounding Murray following the draft, there are a ton of question marks for him as a rookie at this level in an offense that wasn’t any good last year.

As we get closer to the regular season, Winston’s value is likely to rise, but it’s doubtful he jumps ahead of a number of other quarterbacks. If he’s available in your league at his current ADP, he is certainly worth a grab. I would argue he’s even worth taking a couple of rounds ahead of where he is now. With a favorable schedule, Winston has the potential to be your season-long starter. At the end of the day, Winston could be on many teams that are playing for league championships.