The Footballguys staff was asked to mention their most significant rookie quarterback for the upcoming season. Most significant can have a lot of meaning, so - in this case - it means we just asked our guys to pick the rookie quarterback they most wanted to write about. Here are the results.
Jameis Winston - 8 mentions
Alexander - The most significant rookie quarterback for fantasy purposes is Jameis Winston, and it's not close. While at FSU, Winston showed the ability to scan the entire field, get through his progressions, and fit the ball into windows most college quarterbacks wouldn't know existed. Winston will start right away for Tampa Bay, where proven big play wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson can make the most of his big arm. Expect plenty of risky throws, ugly box scores, and typical rookie quarterback growing pains, but also legitimate QB1 upside in the right match-ups. Two games apiece against NFC South opponents Atlanta and New Orleans should help pad Winston's cumulative totals.
Bloom - The #1 pick seemed like a foregone conclusion after the combine, and possibly even before that. Despite character concerns, Winston's pro-ready game suited a team with the tri-towers of Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and a recent running back draft pick (Charles Sims) that is known for his receiving ability as much as his talent as a runner. Winston has displayed the arm talent, anticipation, pocket movement, and poise to translate well early in his career, along with a high football IQ and elevation of his teammates. More than Winston's fantasy value, his arrival could usher Evans into the elite WR tier, revive Jackson's stock after a disappointing 2014, and give Seferian-Jenkins a shot to join the TE1 ranks.
Brimacombe - Jameis Winston landed in a great spot with the Buccaneers as the number one overall pick. He will be starting immediately for the Buccaneers and comes to a situation where he will have Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins as big targets to help take some of the rookie pressure off of him. To go along with a stacks receiving core for Winston, he also has Doug Martin and Charles Sims in the backfield that could potentially rebound from disappointing seasons last year. Winston has done nothing but win at the college level going 26-1 in 27 career starts with the only loss coming to Oregon to end his college career. Over those 27 games Winston accumulated nearly 8,000 passing yards (7,964) and 65 passing touchdowns along with seven more touchdowns on the ground. Although the rookie wall is tougher for the quarterback position, Winston is set up to have success offensively right out of the gate for the Buccaneers as he could be a value QB2 in later rounds to help you out while your star quarterback is on a bye week.
Haseley - There are several reasons why Jameis Winston could be a bright spot for the Buccaneers this year. He has the talent and ability to make all of the throws at the next level and he won't be shy passing the ball down field to one of his many capable receivers. His supporting cast of Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are big-bodied targets who have a high catch radius that will help keep Winston's completion percentage at a respectable level. I do believe Winston will have his share of growing pains as a rookie signal caller with interceptions and poor decisions as an end result, but he'll also have several eye-opening plays that will showcase his natural talent. The NFC South has been a wide open division year in and year out with strong defense being in the minority. The table is set for Winston to put up impressive numbers as a rookie that could land him in the Top 15 among fantasy quarterbacks at seasons end.
Heiser - Not often does a quarterback get selected No. 1 overall by a team that has a stable of wide receivers that ranks among the NFL's best. That's exactly the situation Jameis Winston now finds himself in with the Buccaneers. Hands down, Winston was and is the most NFL-ready player selected in the draft. He'll make Lovie Smith's team competitive from Day 1. There will be growing pains, sure. But Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans provide Winston with a margin of error that most rookie quarterbacks don't get, which makes the 2015 Buccaneers an extremely compelling team to watch, especially in that division.
Pasquino - While everyone wondered as to what pick (and team) would be used to secure Marcus Mariota, the most significant rookie quarterback has to go to Jamieis Winston. Tampa Bay has plenty of weapons on offense in the passing game with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson at wide receiver, plus tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins adds a solid (and underrated) big target over the middle for a young signal caller. Winston will start right away and has the skill players around him to make him a solid fantasy QB2 with QB1 upside in favorable weekly matchups.
Tefertiller - Jameis Winston landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a great situation for the rookie to succeed. The offense is filled with big-play players. Receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, along with second-year Austin Seferian-Jenkins, offer size and the ability to get open. No, fantasy owners should not expect Winston to throw for 4,500 yards as a rookie. But, a Top 12 finish is within reason in 2015. Whether you love Winston or not, he will be a fantasy option many weeks playing defenses from the NFC South. The lack of a strong running game will only help Winston's fantasy owners.
Wimer - Jameis Winston is the most significant rookie quarterback drafted this season from the redraft fantasy league perspective. He has an excellent set of receivers to work with in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and a promising young tight end on the team (Austin Seferian-Jenkins). The offensive style of Tampa Bay's vertical passing game fits Winston's strengths as a passer. As long as Winston keeps his off-field behavior in line with the NFL's personal conduct policies, he'll have the best shot of the incoming rookie class to have an impact in fantasy circles during his rookie season.
Marcus Mariota - 3 mentions
Parsons - Jameis Winston will be the better long-term quarterback in the NFL, but rushing production is early-career cheatcode for fantasy signal callers. Being mobile to the tune of 300+ rushing yards in a season insulates a quarterback to be at least a matchup play QB2. Mariota has a collection of unestablished weapons and a learning curve entering the NFL. Look for Mariota to use his legs and, at a minimum, have that rushing cheatcode in 2015 as an interesting watch on Sundays.
Simpkins - While Mariota has promising physical tools, he clearly would have benefited from landing with a regime that would have given him time to develop. Sadly, he will not be afforded that time, as the Titans have already stated that he will be the Day 1 starter. His development could be further stymied by constant pressure. The Titans offensive line was among the worst in the NFL in 2014 and did little in the draft to improve. The team took Utah tackle Jeremiah Poutasi in the third round, but Poutasi’s limitations are more suited for guard play at the NFL level. Furthermore, Whisenhunt’s current system is structured for a quarterback who prefers to operate inside of the pocket. The team promises to tailor their system to suit Mariota’s strengths, but this will also take time that the team doesn’t have to spare. When Mariota can’t stand up to the pressures that come with landing in a dysfunctional situation, expect Tennessee to be back at the podium in a few years, taking another quarterback with a new coach and general manager at the helm.
Wood - I'm sure most of my colleagues are going to choose Jameis Winston, and a more-than-credible case could be made for the 1st overall pick. First, he's almost certainly going to start in Week 1 -- something I'm not sure we can say about Mariota. Second, Winston inherits an offense with a more proven set of skill players. Third, Winston played in a pro-style offense. With all that said, I implore anyone considering a rookie quarterback late in their draft to opt for Mariota. You're not drafting either Winston or Mariota as your QB1, and so I'm not at all concerned about whether Mariota starts in Week 1. I want the guy who has the best chance of being an elite fantasy player as the season wears on...and that guy is unquestionably the former Oregon Duck.
Give me the quarterback stylings of Ken Whisenhunt over Dirk Koetter any day. Give me the Titans offensive line any day. Give me Mariota's character and work ethic every day. And most importantly -- for fantasy owners -- give me Mariota's wheels. He should run for 400-600 yards and a half dozen TDs this season. Winston -- while athletic -- is NOT a scrambler. Those rushing yards and rushing touchdowns are roughly equivalent to another 1,000 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns in most scoring formats. Mariota may not be the most popular answer to this question, but he's the correct one.
Bryce Petty - 1 mention
Holloway - Bryce Petty is a talented player that threw for 8,055 yards and 61 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Baylor. He was drafted in the 4th round by the New York Jets. The Jets have a new coaching staff and the starting quarterback is up for grabs. Geno Smith started most of the games his rookie season a year ago, but completed less than 60% of his passes and threw the same number of interceptions (13) as touchdowns. The team also signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, heading into his 11th NFL season to compete with Smith. The Jets passing offense should be much improved with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Devin Smith, and second-year tight end Jace Amaro. Petty will at least have an opportunity and the possibilities are rather lofty for the fourth round pick.