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Jameis Winston's New Dynasty Outlook

Jameis Winston certainly boosted many fantasy teams in all formats to championships last season as he finished fifth at QB in scoring. He led the NFL in passing yards (5,109) and the NFC in TD passes (33).

But in real life, Winston was not a winner for the third consecutive season and fourth out of five as a pro. The Buccaneers won seven games and had only one winning season with Winston, when they had nine victories in his second year.  Winston fashioned a 28-42 record in five seasons and was an up-and-down fantasy starter for much of his career until last year.

Fantasy league managers are well aware of Winston's 30 interceptions from 2019, an obvious reason why the Buccaneers moved on from him. Winston is now joining his former NFC South rivals in New Orleans on a one-year deal for 2020. The move obviously fires a torpedo at Winston’s fantasy appeal for this upcoming season. He has gone from fantasy hero to an afterthought in the minds of many owners. But could a season with the Saints make him into a potentially resurgent passer down the line?

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The Dynasty Future for Jameis Winston

To gauge the best possible outlook for Winston, we can use Teddy Bridgewater as an example. After four years with Minnesota (one season was wiped out due to injury), he signed a one-year contract with the Jets. After impressing in the preseason he was traded to New Orleans. He spent two years there and went undefeated in five starts in 2019. Following the season, Bridgewater signed a four-year contract to become Carolina’s starter.

The Saints helped Bridgewater resurrect his career and gave themselves a strong backup option to Drew Brees. The same scenario will apply to Winston. The team sees this an opportunity to further grow and learn under Brees as assistant general manager Jeff Ireland told ESPN Central Texas.

“(Brees) is an incredible leader; he’s an incredible studier of the game how he breaks down his opponents,” Ireland said. “And then you throw in (offensive coordinator) Pete Carmichael, (quarterbacks coach) Joe Lombardi and (head coach) Sean Payton on the offensive side of the ball, those creative minds, Jameis Winston will learn more football in a year than he has in his lifetime.”

As indicated in the Yahoo Sports article that included the Ireland quote, Brees averaged an interception per game in his first nine seasons in the league. Brees has cut that down to 0.4 per game over the past three years. So an obvious part of Winston’s role as an understudy will be to learn how to trim his mistakes from Brees and the Saints staff, while still being able to guide a potent offense.

Adding Winston ensures that if another Brees injury occurs, New Orleans can plug in a potentially productive replacement that can surely outshine most current NFL backups. One item that could certainly help Winston out more than ever is the support of high-quality running backs, which he often lacked in Tampa Bay. No Buccaneers RB rushed for 900 yards in the four seasons after his rookie year. The lack of a ground game put extra pressure on Winston as a passer and made the Buccaneers more predictable on offense.

Season Player Yards
2019 Ronald Jones 724
2018 Peyton Barber 871
2017 Peyton Barber 423
2016 Jacquizz Rodgers 560

Tampa Bay's rushing leaders from 2016 to 2019, the second through fifth seasons of Jameis Winston's career. 


Looking Ahead in New Orleans

So if you own Brees in a dynasty league, you may be considering swinging a trade for Winston with an eye on the same factors as the Saints and the QB himself. You’ll get an essential backup to Brees with an eye on the fantasy future. That could very well be outside of New Orleans, as the Saints just signed Taysom Hill to a two-year contract.

New Orleans continues to view Hill as the eventual successor to Brees, as soon as the 2021 season. But in the interim, the Saints want to keep Hill in his current role as a versatile gadget player. That makes him a potential injury risk. If he were pressed into action as a starter, his skill set also may not be ideally suited to the Saints offense.

So for 2020, Winston makes more sense as the pure backup to Brees, as he could conceivably make a smoother transition into the existing Saints offense as more of a classic drop-back passer. Then when Brees moves on, Hill can take over as the full-time starter with a new offense designed around him.

Even if he does not start at all this upcoming season, Winston could re-emerge as a more attractive free-agent option after the 2020 season. If he does play and fares well, that can only stir further interest from other teams. So for now, while his fantasy value appears damaged, a savvy fantasy owner will look past this season and roster Winston for potential re-emergence as an improved passer.


The Longer-Term Fantasy Approach

If you own Winston in a dynasty league, and your team is deep at QB or rebuilding, you have some intriguing options. Stashing Winston is one easy and appealing choice. Be patient, and you could have an improved and attractive fantasy starter a year from now.

Of course, you could always deal Winston to another team that is looking to the future and does not have a realistic shot of contending this season. It is all about how you sell the deal to another owner. Playing the angle of a Winston revival in the Bridgewater vein with much more upside can get it done for a draft choice or as part of a multi-layered or larger trade.

Those with a longer-range view on Winston can certainly see his possible value after this season. A change of scenery was needed, and this one comes with an opportunity for him to watch, learn, and eventually morph into an improved player. That could mean more consistency as an NFL and fantasy starter. Simply giving up on him is not a smart move.

Buy Winston if you are building towards the dynasty future. Or keep him for that reason if you already have him. Or sell him if he is an extra piece at QB to another team that needs him more for the long term. No matter your situation, he still has significant dynasty value to the clever owner.

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