Player Spotlight: Jameis Winston

A detailed look at Jameis Winston's fantasy prospects for 2015.

Taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the number one overall pick in the 2015 draft, the expectations couldn’t be higher for Jameis Winston:

WHERE WINSTON WINS

Fortunately for Bucs fans and fantasy players alike, Winston has the toolbox to meet and even exceed those expectations. At 6’4", 231 pounds, Winston is big enough to easily see over the offensive line and to stand up to the physical punishment he’ll take playing the quarterback position. Winston has a strong arm, excellent anticipation of his receivers, and isn’t afraid to make aspirational throws. It also doesn’t hurt that Winston will have big and tall threats in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to go up and high-point his passes. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report made waves this offseason when he reported that several NFL scouts compared Winston’s football IQ to that of Peyton Manning. While this statement may seem laughable, it does illustrate that Winston impressed these scouts with his ability to break down the game on an intellectual level. Winston was a consistent winner at the college level. He only had one loss in his 27 games at QB. Many of those wins were of the come-from-behind variety (though admittedly, Winston’s slow starts in the first half of games were often what put the team behind).

Concerns Abound

Winston is not without his faults, however. Some compare Winston to Cam Newton. While both are big and tall, their playing styles are very different. Whereas Cam can make a lot happen with his feet, Winston is a bit lumbering and struggles when asked to work outside of the pocket. Winston also has a tendency to believe in his arm so much that he will try to squeeze a ball in between defenders and get intercepted as a result. It’s also no secret that Winston comes with some substantial personal baggage. In his time at FSU, Winston  was in hot water for shoplifting crab legs, shouting obscenities in the student union building, and allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. It’s also common knowledge that Winston is very involved in the nightclub scene, a setting that often gets athletes into compromising situations. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has even expressed his doubts about Winston’s ability to stay on the straight-and-narrow path long-term. Speaking of both Winston and Johnny Manziel, Mayock stated:

"When kids have significant red flags, how often do they change? My perception and my experience is, plus or minus, 90 percent of the time, a kid ultimately turns into who he's always been. When you get a repeated pattern of bad decisions, you might be on your best behavior leading up to the draft, you've got all kinds of people around you telling you what to say and how to act. But once you get comfortable, whether it's one year in, two years in, three years in, once you get comfortable again in the NFL and you get paid, typically that kid goes back to being who he always was."

Positives:

  • Winston played in a pro-style offense and possesses above average football intelligence.
  • Winston has arm talent to make every throw at the NFL level.
  • Winston is confident in his own abilities and has charisma that causes other teammates to play hard for him.

Negatives:

  • Winston sometimes tries to throw the ball into windows that are too small, leading to interceptions.
  • A pure pocket passer, Winston is not going to make many plays with his feet.
  • Character issues are a real concern for Winston and have the potential to derail his career.

Final Thoughts

In the short-term, Winston will have success in the NFL. Jameis is someone who is being overlooked in redraft formats. His targets are far superior to what most rookie quarterbacks are blessed to have at their disposal. The defense is rebuilding and the onus will be placed on Winston to win games. Don't be shocked if he has a rookie campaign similar to that of Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton. The long-term picture is a little more cloudy. If Winston does not stay disciplined, he could take a career path very similar to that of Vince Young.

2015 Projections

Bob Henry’s Projections

GPYDY/ATTTDINTRSHYDTDFPT
16 3880 7.19 23 20 55 245 2 302.50

Maurile Tremblay’s Projections

GPYDY/ATTTDINTRSHYDTDFPT
16 3673 7.06 21 17 38 146 1 271.25

Other Viewpoints

In a joint report written for CBS by Dane Brugler and Rob Rang, both acknowledge Winston’s rare talents:

“On the field, Winston is a natural. He has the requisite physical skills with his size, arm strength and athleticism along with the mental process as a passer to pick apart defenses. His anticipation, instincts and chemistry with his targets come easy to him and it's something that scouts search for within quarterback prospects. Simply put, Winston has a rare skill-set and that's why he has the makings of a top 10 selection or even No. 1 overall pick. However, his string of immature actions off the field will continue to be a hot topic among NFL decision makers. Winston also had several slow starts and games with multiple interceptions in 2014, although he also showed the ability to consistently rally his team from behind and make plays in the clutch.”

Bryan Perez of Draft Breakdown believes Winston has the needed traits, but has reservations about his character:

“...Winston proved to be a gutsy winner who can put a team on his shoulders and win games.  Add that with his arm talent and overall ‘plus’ combination of traits, and you have a quarterback worthy of an early selection.  His character issues need to be investigated fully, as he appears to be a risky investment at this juncture from an 'above-the-shoulders' standpoint.”