Fantasy Football: Jameis Winston could still have relevance in dynasty leagues with move to Saints

There have been eight quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, and the Saints are expected to have two of them on their roster this year. According to Yahoo Sports!, Jameis Winston is signing a one-year deal with New Orleans. 

Terms of the deal were not in the report, but it said Winston’s “2020 salary will be very economical,” with NFL Network reporting Winston passed up more lucrative offers elsewhere. 

Winston, who passed for 5,109 yards in Tampa Bay last season, joins a crowded quarterback group with the Saints. Drew Brees, who has passed for at least 5,000 yards five times, remains the starter, but New Orleans also has Taysom Hill on the roster. And the Saints drafted Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens in the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Saturday. 

The Yahoo Sports! report says Winston isn’t guaranteed the No. 2 job behind Brees. Hill stayed in New Orleans this offseason after he was given a first-round tender, and Saints coach Sean Payton is infatuated with Hill, who has been used as a rusher and receiver in addition to his role on special teams.  

But in 2019 when Brees missed five games with an injured thumb, the Saints turned to Teddy Bridgewater over Hill as the starter. The same thing could happen with Winston this season if Brees, 41, were to miss any time. 

This move obviously isn’t good for Winston’s Fantasy value in 2020. After finishing as the No. 5 Fantasy quarterback — he had 33 passing touchdowns, 30 interceptions (ouch), 250 rushing yards and one touchdown to go with his passing yards — no one envisioned Winston, 26, as a backup, let alone a third-string quarterback. 

There was apparently little interest in Winston on the free-agent market, whether due to salary demands or teams not wanting to deal with his turnovers. He is one of 12 quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 30 interceptions in a season, including an NFL-record seven pick-sixes last year. He also added five lost fumbles in 2019. 

The Buccaneers elected to move on from Winston to sign future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, but Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians was not down on Winston as a quarterback. After signing Brady, Arians said on “The Rich Eisen Show” that he “talked to two teams” about adding Winston. 

“I called a couple teams [and told them] you’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had and a great young man,” Arians said. “He’s a great young man, and nobody’s going to outwork him.” 

Maybe one of those teams was the Saints, who might need a quarterback plan for 2021. Brees signed a two-year, $50 million contract this offseason, but he also has a deal in place to work as an analyst with NBC Sports once he retires. 

In March, Payton said on ESPN that Brees was “coming back for his final season.” The next day, Payton tried to clarify what he meant, saying “I’m a big dummy. We got to chatting on ESPN, and I think the way I worded it was, he’s coming back for his last year. I think, I honestly don’t know if it’s his last year.” 

It’s clear that Payton and New Orleans are planning for the future in case Brees is done after this year. And Winston makes more sense as the heir apparent than Hill, 29. If the Saints can convince Winston to stay in New Orleans after Brees retires and make him a starter, then he would still have plenty of Fantasy value in dynasty leagues. If you can stash Winston on your roster that would be a smart move. 

Winston could still be an excellent Fantasy quarterback if he’s playing for Payton and with elite weapons like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. But clearly there’s no guarantee he ever takes a snap for the Saints. 

The ideal scenario for Winston is to learn from Payton and Brees for a year and then become the starter for the Saints in 2021. Fantasy managers would love that for Winston in dynasty leagues, but he’s not worth drafting in seasonal formats this season if he’s sitting on the bench. 

It’s hard to imagine passing for 5,000 yards one year and not playing the next season. But that’s where Winston is with his career in 2020.

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