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ADP Showdown - Jameis Winston vs Philip Rivers

You will be hard pressed to find two guys closer in ADP than Jameis Winston and Philip Rivers. As of the time of this writing, they are right next to each other at 10.07. If you are waiting on a QB (which you should be), the 10th round is a perfect time to grab one.

There are an abundance of options at the QB position. You don't have to take Winston or Rivers. But for the sake of argument, let's assume you have to choose between these two guys. Which one is it?

Despite their proximity in ADP, I don't think this one is particularly close, which is interesting because even in my personal rankings, I have them right next to each other.

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Stop Playing It Safe

When selecting any quarterback, the goal is to find a difference maker at the position. You can very easily stream a low-end QB1 but, ideally, you want to find a guy like 2018 Patrick Mahomes (obviously it's rarely to that extent, but you get the point).

In 2018, Rivers finished as the QB13 by average PPG. "Bucs QB" finished as the QB2. Therein lies the problem with Winston. For Rivers, there is a 100% chance he will be the starting QB for all 16 games as long as he is healthy. For Winston, well, he lost his job twice last season and the team declined to sign him to a long-term deal despite spending a #1 overall pick on him. From a season-long standpoint, there really is no debate that Rivers is the safer option.

But who cares about safe? It's the 10th round. It's the quarterback position. Here are Rivers' finishes by average PPG over the past five seasons: QB13, QB13, QB19, QB14, QB13. What exactly is this doing for your fantasy team? In typical 12-team leagues, you can stream a QB better than Rivers. Sure, Winston may end up getting benched midseason. If that happens, you can just drop him and...wait for!


Tangible Upside

Winston is throwing to one of the best WR duos in the league in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. He has a super athletic TE in O.J. Howard. His team has a terrible defense, which should force the Bucs into shootouts. Bruce Arians has a history pushing the ball downfield, especially when he has the weapons to do it. The Bucs have no semblance of a running game. There is a reason that Bucs QB was so prolific in 2018 and the offense projects to be even better this year. I do think there is a very real risk Winston throws the ball to the other team too often to maintain his job. He is a bad NFL QB while being a potentially great fantasy QB.

And that is the key to this debate. Winston is a potentially great fantasy QB. "Great" is simply not in Rivers' range of outcomes. He is 37 years old. He is what he is. If Rivers has this breakout fantasy season at age 37, he can do it without me and I won't feel bad about it. Rivers does have strong weapons in his own right. Keenan Allen is one of the most reliable pass catchers in the league. Mike Williams is a red zone threat. Hunter Henry is returning from injury. However, the Chargers have a much better defense than the Bucs and they actually have a running game with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Over the course of 16 games, I would expect Winston to throw significantly more touchdowns (and interceptions) than Rivers as well as average at least 25 more yards per game.

Rivers is a safe, high-floor option. He is not going to put your fantasy team over the top and his production is very replaceable. Winston may end up being terrible. He may end up getting benched. But he has upside to make a difference in your lineup. If Winston fails, you will have no trouble replacing him with production as good, if not better, than what Rivers will provide in single-QB leagues. Take Winston over Rivers every time.

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