Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch 2015
Rookie Watch - Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It always seems that when the quarterback position is being considered for the top draft choice there are two prospects up for debate, each with unique selling points. In the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston’s selling points out-weighed those of Marcus Mariota, at least in the minds of the Buccaneers brass. Tampa Bay knows a thing or two about drafting No. 1 ¬ they hope history will not repeat itself with Winston.
In reality, football may have little to do with Winston’s demise, should it go in that direction. Off-the-field issues ¬ too numerous too list, already well known to all ¬ make him a questionable “character pick” and will occupy at least a portion of his thoughts as he embarks on his first season due to the impending civil trial he faces.
Winston is a phenomenal athlete who faced- and beat ¬ top-notch oppoosition during his stay at Florida State. His mechanics are not perfect and his emotions too often unchecked. Yep, he can play, though, so the evaluation of Jameis Winston is really about which side of Winston fantasy owners believe will ultimately win out… will it be Jekyll or Hyde?
Dissecting the depth chart: Let's not kid ourselves, ok? Winston will start for this team for two reasons: No. 1 overall picks no longer have the luxury of learning from the sidelines, even if history suggests it is often the most effective approach to nurturing a franchise quarterback. And, second, the Buccaneers’ organization is so desperate for excitement that nothing but a severe injury would keep Winston at bay. Now, all that said, it's only right to list the supporting cast of clipboard holders: Mike Glennon ¬“ remember him? The 2013 second round pick went from being the future to the past before he really ever had an opportunity to live in the now. In two seasons he's thrown 29 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions. Still, no one buys it. The 6-foot-6 Seth Lobato has yet to take his first NFL snap - that's all there is to know there.
Just the stats: Winston passed for 7,964 yards in his two seasons under center at Florida State, with 65 touchdown passes and just 28 interceptions. His Heisman-winning 2013 season was highlighted by his 40-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As prolific as he proved to be, Winston was also shaky at times in crunch time; in the six games last season in which Florida State won by a touchdown or less, Winston threw a total of nine interceptions, having thrown at least one interception in five of those games.
2015 Projection: 452 attempts, 3,158 yards, 18 TDs, 59 carries, 255 yards, 3 TDs
2014 rookie comparison: Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
When finally given the team’s full confidence, Bridgewater displayed some positive play. He made plays in and out of the pocket ¬ same as Winston will - and Bridgewater filled the void Vikings fans had been feeling under center, if only a little bit now and then. But Bridgewater showed incredible (unfathomable, at times) lapses in judgement, too ¬ same as Winston will in Tampa Bay.
Interesting fact that won’t help you: As a superstar prep athlete, Winston liked to watch Phineas and Ferb and other cartoons as a relaxation device.
What he’s worth: There may not be a rookie that fantasy owners are more torn over. Some see Tampa Bay’s weapons as a welcome sign for a big first year; others expect the athletic Winston to produce enough points with his feet to find fantasy relevance. No such optimism here, however. Rookie quarterbacks struggle as a rule, and Winston’s distractions coupled with the Buccaneers’ continued growing pains will make 2015 a grueling learning experience for the rookie quarterback. He's a fringe No. 2 fantasy quarterback mostly because expected inconsistency should be weighed against him.
Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom