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2015 NFL Draft

Fantasy Football 2015 Rookie Preview: Jameis Winston

Adam Pfeifer looks at the tape to see the pros and cons of Jameis Winston’s game and what fantasy football owners can expect in 2015.

Jameis Winston, mock draft

He can be a star.

It’s no secret that quarterback Jameis Winston holds that superstar quality. A Heisman trophy winner, National Champion, and straight up winner, Winston finished his collegiate career with a 26-1 record, and while quarterback wins aren’t a stat (they’re not), it’s still impressive to see how he seemingly always gets the job done. He became the first quarterback since 1964 to win the first 26 starts of his career, and had at least one touchdown in every single game he played at Florida State. Again, Winston has the skill, size, and athleticism to be a true star at the next level.

But only if he’s not in a crabby mood. Yeah, I went there.

Metrics

Winston

It’s always appealing when your quarterback towers over most players on the field. Winston has a similar build to Cam Newton, but with much less athleticism. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he can see over NFL offensive linemen, while also being able to withstand the hits from NFL defensive linemen. The 4.97 40-time doesn’t look too promising, but people need to remember that this isn’t Newton or Michael Vick. I view his playing style similar to Donovan McNabb, but, again, not as mobile or athletic. He lacks that top-end speed and mobility to extend a ton of plays outside of the pocket, but he has a strong arm and can drive the ball down the field with relative ease.

Statistics 

FSU

 

You knew he was good.

In the 2013 season, Winston made his college debut, starting for the Seminoles against Pittsburgh. If you expected him to falter, you were sadly mistaken, as the future star went on to complete 25-0f-27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns, while also adding 25 rushing yards and another score. That was good enough to set the FSU all-time record for completion percentage in a single game. It was a sign of things to come, as he then went on to take home the Heisman trophy, as well as the National Championship, vaulting him up the boards as the top player in all of college football.

No player in the history of NCAA has won the prestigious award at a younger age than Winston (19 years, 342 days), and he became the second freshman to ever accomplish the feat. Of course, Winston is simply a pure athlete, as he also played two seasons as a member of the Florida State baseball team. With that strong arm, he was used as a relief pitcher, allowing opponents to bat just .154 as a sophomore. And during his sophomore season, he was used as a closer, sporting an ERA of 1.08. The kid can essentially do it all, which is one of the main reasons why he is currently the favorite to be selected with the first overall pick in April. Of course, there may be only one person in the world that can stop Jameis Winston.

And that’s Jameis Winston.

He has a few off the field issues that have surfaced. Of course, the most popular would be the shop-lifting theme, as he was accused of stealing soda from a Burger King in July of 2013. And then, almost a year ago, Winston was issued a citation for stealing crab legs from a Tallahassee store. Also, in 2012, Winston and a friend allegedly brought a BB gun on campus and were caught firing at squirrels. Simply put, these stories are pretty childish, which is a bit of a concern when you consider that the quarterback is supposed to be one of the leaders of your football team. Personally, I wouldn’t say that Winston is a bad person at all. He may, however, be a bit immature. But, of course, there’s no denying the immense talent that the 21-year-old has.

Let’s take a look.

The Good

First off, the size is one of the first things that catches my eye with Jameis. It’s always an added bonus when a quarterback is that big, presenting the ability to scan the field over the offensive line, which is especially exciting when you consider that he is pretty strong in terms of scanning the field and going through his progressions. For the most part, he has very strong football intelligence. Situations like below are why he can provide such an advantage for an offense, as Winston has terrific pocket awareness, understands where players around him are and fires a dime to Rashad Greene, despite a defender trying to contest the pass right in his face. Because of his size, it often isn’t necessary for him to adjust his throws. And, of course, the velocity on his passes is outstanding, getting the football to it’s destination very quickly.

You certainly see that here. He can drive the football into the seams and beat opposing safeties. Puts full extension and follows through on his passes, almost like a baseball pitch. That helps guide the football so much better than if you weren’t to follow through and go through the entire motion.

One of my favorite aspects of Winston’s game is his ability to sit in the pocket and make strong throws, despite having bodies and commotion around him. He usually doesn’t get flustered when the pocket seems to be collapsing, and, again, because he’s so big, he can stand strong, take those hits and have his throws less impacted than smaller passers. He also has a very good feel for the outside edge, knowing when a defensive end is looming in. I like his feel for the pocket and ability to make that throw when pressure is on it’s way. You rarely find him over-jittery or panicked.

The Bad

Despite how immensely talented he is, Winston can make some very, very, very questionable decisions.

I sometimes feel like he knows how strong his arm is, and thus, he thinks he can squeeze throws into too tight of windows. Often times he’ll try to make a seemingly impossible throw, rather than checking it down or taking a sack. Can sometimes be baited into making those poor throws, that tend to lead to interceptions. Winston does make mistakes, for sure, as he threw 28 interceptions during his two seasons at FSU. And like I said, Winston is actually a very smart football mind, so it’s kind of annoying and upsetting to see him make certain decisions like this one.

No quarterback should ever, ever make that throw. With pressure in his face and off his back foot, Winston throws the ball into triple coverage, leading to an easy interception. It’s especially concerning that he didn’t throw the ball away or take the sack when you consider the down and distance– 1st and 10.

Winston wasn’t the best intermediate passer in the world, either. According to Greg Pishek of Rotoworld, Winston completed just 60 percent of passes in the 11-20-yard range, which was lower than the average quarterback. And on intermediate passing, Winston completed just 56.8 percent of his passes, while tossing a league-leading 11 interceptions on such throws. So 61 percent of his total interceptions in 2014 came off intermediate passing.

Comparisons: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning.

Winston in 2015

At the moment, basically every mock draft has Winston landing in Tampa Bay, becoming the next number one overall pick. Jameis played in a pro-style offense at Florida State, and Tampa Bay already seems infatuated with him. The offensive weapons aren’t bad by any means, as Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins all stand at least 6-foot-5 tall. Both he and Marcus Mariota will be on fantasy radars all season long as either streaming options or bye week replacements. It’s not difficult for quarterbacks to post serviceable fantasy numbers, especially in today’s pass-heavy league. According to Dave Richard of CBS Sports, there were 14 different signal callers to accumulate at least 300 fantasy points last season, which is three more than from 2013.

Having said that, it would be unlikely for Winston to finish as a QB1 in fantasy, as only four passers over the last five seasons have finished as top-10 options during their rookie seasons (Newton, Griffin, Luck, Wilson), but they were boosted by their rushing numbers, too. During their rookie seasons, the four as a unit averaged 566 rushing yards and 7.5 touchdowns. And, again, Winston isn’t really a threat on the ground, finding the end zone just seven times with his legs over his two seasons at FSU. However, throwing to guys like Evans, who finished as a top-12 fantasy wideout in his rookie year, and VJax certainly can’t hurt. Last year, the only quarterback in football who had a WR1 at his disposal but failed to serve as a top-12 fantasy passer was Jay Cutler, who finished 13th.

A lot of people have been throwing the name JaMarcus Russell around when looking at Winston. I don’t see that at all. If he weren’t to pan out, the worst possible outcome I envision for him is a guy like David Garrard, who wasn’t a superstar by any means, but didn’t have a career that one would necessarily scoff at either. However, I see more for Winston. He has all of the tools to be great. As long as he keeps his head on straight and stays focused, Winston should have a very long career in this league, and could very well soon become very relevant in the fantasy football world.

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