Is Jameis Winston the Streaming Quarterback You Want?
Season long fantasy players know that bye weeks force action. While you should be considering how you stack up every single week, losing a player to bye weeks (and, to a larger extent, injuries) force players' hands, starting guys they would not have dreamed about starting in Week 1.
Jameis Winston has very quietly become a guy fantasy players should consider rolling with.
Owned in less than one-third of ESPN fantasy leagues, Winston is widely available and might make for a nice streaming option, particularly as some more popular fantasy options like Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck go on bye in Week 10.
Winston is not for every player, but there are essentially two strategies when it comes to playing bye weeks: going for the high-ceiling player (looking to play a quarterback with a favorable matchup) or going for a high-floor player (going for the safe option). Interestingly, and somewhat counterintuitively, the inexperienced quarterback represents much more of the latter (a safe option) than the former (the high-risk, high-reward option). The narrative about young quarterbacks, particularly in fantasy football, is that they are simply volatile plays. That just has not been the case for Winston so far.
In standard scoring, Winston has never had a game of more than 19 points. Some fantasy owners might be troubled by that. At quarterback, you would expect at least a game here or there bigger than that. But owners looking at the downside might see something interesting: Winston has never scored fewer than 12 points.
Will Winston win you a matchup? It seems unlikely based on past performance that he would, but the flip side is simple: Winston probably is not going to kill you either.
A lot of Winston's recent success does come from his rushing, which is a somewhat dangerous game to play. A lot of times, rushes are not "designed plays" for a quarterback but are frequently the result of broken plays.
Over the last two weeks, Jameis has 8 points in each week just from rushing, gaining 24 yards and a rushing touchdown in each. That said, it's not as if Winston has relied exclusively on his rushing to put up points. In Week 7 Winston scored 19 points and only had a single rush for 5 yards. In fact, Winston only has one other game this season where he has earned more than two points from rushing the ball. Much of Winston's floor is actually generated from his passing, which is a positive sign for potential Winston owners.
Again, this history can be taken one of two ways, but with QB10 and QB12 performances in Week 7 and Week 8, respectively, and with as many points as the highly-touted Tom Brady in Week 9 -- owners could certainly do worse plugging in for injuries or bye weeks. Again, it's all about strategy and your weekly matchup.
If you absolutely need a monster game from the quarterback position, you might be best served looking elsewhere. But, based on past performance, if you want to play it safe you should be paying close attention to Winston's matchup.
Schedule Moving Forward
Winston should have some exploitable matchups, particularly through the air, for the rest of the season. Our signature metric, Net Expected Points (NEP), can help us figure out how much a player or a team performs above or below expectation. You can read more in our glossary, but the bottom line is each play adds to or detracts from a team's expectation to score, and NEP measures that.
Our team NEP numbers can measure how well or poorly an entire unit performed. We can use Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play to determine how well a defense performs on a per-play basis against the pass, adjusted for the strength of schedule.
In Week 10 -- when Ryan, Brees and Luck are on bye -- Winston faces the Dallas Cowboys, a team currently ranked 16th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. In Week 11, Winston faces the fourth-ranked Eagles.
The rest of Winston's schedule is pretty favorable. Winston will face Indianapolis, Atlanta, and New Orleans in Weeks 12, 13, and 14 -- defenses we have ranked 25th, 20th, and 32nd, respectively, against the pass. After a tough Week 15 matchup against St. Louis (2nd), Winston faces Chicago, who we rank 29th, in the championship week (Week 16).
More often than not, Winston is facing not just mediocre defenses but downright bad defenses.
So far this year Winston has been a relatively safe play, and with good matchups moving forward, he should be a guy quarterback streamers and players looking to fill in for injuries should be considering over the course of many weeks.
The Winston play is not going to be for everyone. If you need upside, you should probably look elsewhere. But if you are looking to play a risk-averse game Winston is your man.
He has not had a breakout game yet, but fantasy-wise he has not really crushed you either. Though over his last two weeks a lot of Winston's value came from running, by and large it has been his passing that has earned him his floor, meaning it's much safer to play Winston than conventional wisdom may let on.
With his schedule having quite a few favorable matchups, paired with his low ownership percentage, Winston is definitely a player fantasy owners should be considering if they are electing to stream at the quarterback position.