The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side by Daniel Simpkins
Winston’s smarts on the field are evident, with some scouts comparing his football IQ coming out of college to that of Peyton Manning. One of the statistics that best illustrates this is his sack total last year. Winston took only 27 sacks in 2015, despite having one of the worst offensive lines in football. He knew when to throw the ball away, something that many rookies struggle to do.
He seems to have put the character issues of his college years behind him while displaying the work ethic and preparation needed to succeed in the NFL. His coach says he is spending a lot of time in the film room. Also, Winston is actively working on footwork and getting into better physical shape during the offseason.
Dirk Koetter has said that he is going to take limitations off of Winston this year. He will be able to call audibles and run no-huddle plays, two tools that should help give him better control of the offense. Additionally, the offense should improve since Winston’s top receivers (Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins) are once again healthy after missing large portions of last year. Charles Sims has also come on as a back who can provide an extra dimension to their passing offense.
It’s dumbfounding that Winston’s ADP isn’t through the roof after the rookie season he turned in last year. Only Cam Newton and Andrew Luck had more total yards in their rookie campaigns. Just for comparison's sake, after each player’s stellar rookie season, Robert Griffin III was a mid-sixth round pick and Cam Newton was an early fourth round selection. At this moment, Winston is being drafted at the mid-to-late seventh round mark. We should see Winston’s ADP edge higher as the summer wears on; but for now, he remains a value that we should target in redraft formats.
Low Side by Chris Feery
After an impressive rookie campaign that saw him throw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns, the Jameis Winston bandwagon is becoming pretty crowded as he enters his sophomore season. He’s being viewed as a clear-cut fantasy starter, and some season-long projections even have him cracking the Top 10 list for overall production at the position. He’s improved his conditioning in the offseason, Tampa Bay coaches are saying all the right things about his development, and he appears to be in line to take the proverbial leap forward in year two. While all the signs are there for a productive 2016 season, I haven’t purchased my ticket on the Winston hype train.
The clouds in my Winston forecast have accumulated for a simple reason: Tampa Bay’s early season schedule. After opening the season with a road date against the Atlanta Falcons, the team will have its mettle tested for four consecutive weeks against some really tough defenses. In succession, the Buccaneers will face off with the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. That’s a painful stretch of opponents for even the most seasoned of quarterbacks, but it could prove to be downright unnerving for a second year pro and lead to a prolonged sophomore slump.
Week 1’s game against the Falcons could very well turn into a shootout and prove to be a fantasy bonanza for Winston, and that would lead to plenty of back-slapping and high-fives from his 2016 advocates. However, it’s pretty hard to craft a scenario in which Winston doesn’t hit the year two wall over the next few games, three of which are against 2015 Conference Championship round participants that have had a full offseason to brush up on his tendencies and weak spots.
We’ll have a really good sense of Winston’s maturity level and ability to deal with adversity by the time the final gun sounds on Week 5’s date with the Panthers, but let’s just say that I’m not seeing a ton of offensive fireworks from Winston in the early part of 2016. Winston could pay dividends for patient owners in the second half, but I’ll be tapping the brakes on overall expectations as that rough patch could very well portend a lackluster 2016. He makes a fine choice for a backup quarterback, but owners that place all of their eggs in the Winston basket could quickly see a 1-0 start spiral into a soul searching mark of 1-4.