What Jameis Winston as starter means for Saints' offense, fantasy and Taysom Hill

METAIRIE (La. -- Coach Sean Payton made the right choice and named Jameis Winston the New Orleans Saints' starting quarterback on Friday.
Although it was close for a while the battle was still fierce. The 27-year old Winston offered more upside than Taysom Hill, 31. He also made a stronger closing argument Monday night with his energetic display.

The Saints' decision does not mean all doubts are answered as they enter a season without Drew Brees, for the first time since 1996.

Let's take a look at the four most popular questions:

Are you looking for a more vertical Saints offense?

It wasn't long before you could see the value Winston brought to Payton’s offense. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, his first touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway, on Monday, traveled 53.3 yards through the air -- the longest Saints TD since 2016.

Jameis Winston's performance has been impressive, but will he be able to keep his turnovers under control as Saints coach Sean Payton asks? Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Winston lit up when Winston was asked if Callaway was his very first read.

Winston stated, "Absolutely." "As soon I saw the safety cut [towards a shallow receiver], it was gone. These opportunities are rare for me.

Winston made several similar throws during training camp. We also saw Payton create a 56-yard TD pass to Winston on a trick play last season.

In Brees' later years, however, those passes were rare. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 29 Saints passes traveled more than 20 yards beyond the line-of-scrimmage in 2020. This is less than any other team since 2014.

There is much more to being a quarterback than just arm strength. Exhibit A is Brees. Payton doesn't want to forget the old tricks he learned from Brees when he was throwing for over 5,000 yards per season.

Nearly every question Payton has received about Winston in the past two seasons has focused on his "arm talent" as well as his leadership. Many Saints receivers expressed excitement at the possibility that Winston might let loose down the field, even if they don't get the first read.

Winston did not rely on deep passes as much during his five years with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to ESPN Stats & Info he ranked 16th to 15th, eighth, and 14th in NFL for percentage of passes thrown 20+ yards between 2015 and 2018. He ranked second in 2019, at 16%, while leading the league in passing yards with 5,109 in his first season with Bruce Arians, an aggressive offensive coach. Winston was also the first quarterback to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions during that same season.

An offense by the Saints that is more risky

Herein lies the problem. Winston lost 23 fumbles and threw 88 interceptions in his 70 games with the Bucs. Saints must ensure that he does not lose sight of the risk-reward equation.

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Winston has so far done and said the right things, starting with his decision last year to join the Saints to receive a Harvard education in quarterback school under Payton, Brees, and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.

Winston stated that the No. Winston said that Brees taught him the number one lesson: to focus on making the right decision, not trying to force big results. You can count his interceptions in camp's four weeks. He has also made a habit out of checking for safer throws.

"Sean Payton said to us that Jameis would not play in the same manner as he did in Tampa Bay. I can assure you of this. "I will not let him do that, and our system won't allow him to," said Louis Riddick, an ESPN analyst. Riddick had a pregame chat to Payton as part the Monday Night Football broadcast.

Riddick stated that Jameis is a great quarterback and one reason to be optimistic. He has always been. He needed to improve his decision-making abilities. It's not just about him. This could also be due to the offences he has been involved in. Another reason to be hopeful is that he's in a proven, productive and tried-and-true system.

What does this all mean for Hill?

The fifth-year professional is clearly disappointed. He has always stated that his goal was to be a starting quarterback, despite the fact that he is eager to help the team in other areas such as a RB/TE/WR/kick returninger/special teams coverage ace.

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Hill was determined to reach his goal in the offseason. He focused his practice and workouts exclusively on playing quarterback. Hill, who is 6'2 and 221 pounds, has gained some weight in the past to fulfill these extra duties. Hill said that he lost 215 pounds this year to increase his flexibility. "If I'm not going be blocking defensive ends, backers, safeties and other stuff, then I don't need the extra weight."

It's difficult to imagine Hill not willingly returning to a similar position. The Saints may not ask Hill to perform as much special teams or blocking work. They will likely continue to design packages for him as a read option QB, runner, and pass-catcher, after he has amassed 613 rushing yards and 332 receiving yards over the past two seasons.

Hill signed a $21 million, two-year deal with the Saints in 2020 as a restricted agent. You could argue that this role is more important than ever after the Saints lost wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, tight ends Jared Cook, and Josh Hill in this offseason. Top WR Michael Thomas is also currently out with an ankle injury.

For the future, Hill will remain an unrestricted agent in 2022. He may need to decide whether to pursue QB opportunities elsewhere or if he wants to take on his "slash” role permanently.

What does this all mean for fantasy?

The ESPN fantasy football rankings didn't change much after Winston's debut. Mike Clay, the producer of ESPN's projections said that Winston had already made 12 starts and that he only increased it to 14 due to the possibility of a QB switch. Clay moved Winston to QB 24.

Clay stated that Clay could be a fantasy steal. Clay said that Hill will occasionally lose snaps because of his questionable pass-catchers.

Analysts Matthew Berry and Field Yates rated Winston as more valuable than Winston, who both believed Payton would be joining Hill to begin the season. Winston was not ready to be a top-15 quarterback because he does not add fantasy value by rushing yards -- and because he could give snaps to Hill in certain packages.

Everyone agrees Winston increases the value of New Orleans' pass catchers -- particularly running back Alvin Kamara who is safer than Winston as consensus No. 3rd overall pick. After his breakout summer, Callaway has reached the top 50 receivers.

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