Jameis Winston is a Top 5 QB in 2017 (Fantasy Football)

Jun 27, 2017

Can Jameis Winston take the next large step forward in 2017?

Geoff Lambert breaks down why Jameis Winston will be a top five fantasy QB this season.

This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from Geoff, head to GoingFor2.com.

Last season Winston had a decent fantasy season. In fact, he was a top 15 QB with 21.2 fantasy points per game (4 points per passing TDs). He finished tied with Cam Newton and ahead of Russell Wilson despite being drafted much lower than both of those guys. The barometer for a QB in fantasy is 20 or more points per game, a feat that Winston hit in nine of his 16 games. That is pretty impressive when you consider the second leading receiver on his team was Cameron Brate, a slightly above average TE that wasn’t expected to be the starter going into camp last season.

Sync your draft to our Draft Assistant for pick by pick advice >>

The 2017 version of the Buccaneers offense looks much improved over last year’s, and it’s the reason I think Winston can be a top five fantasy QB this year. But, before we get into why I think he makes the jump from 15th to top five, let’s first look at last year’s top five fantasy QBs in terms of points per game (4 points per passing TD) and figure who might be dropping out.

  1. Aaron Rodgers 27.6 FPPG
  2. Drew Brees 26.4 FPPG
  3. Matt Ryan 25.7 FFPG
  4. Andrew Luck 25.5 FFPG
  5. Tom Brady 24.7 FFPG

That is a pretty impressive list, and I could see all of those guys repeating in 2017 as top five fantasy QBs in 2017, but in order for Winston to crack that list, one will have to drop off.

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are pretty much locked into top five, and Andrew Luck will be top five strictly based on his volume passes. I also never bet against Brady, so I’ll put him in the top five. That leaves Ryan as the QB falling out to make room for Winston.

The Falcons are coming off a devastating Super Bowl loss, not to mention they lost their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — now the head coach of the 49ers. The Super Bowl loser has historically struggled the year following the big game, and the loss of Shanahan may hurt more than expected. The Falcons will likely take a step back offensively in 2017 — just enough to knock Ryan out of the top five.

Now, let’s look at that Bucs much-improved offense. Of course, WR Mike Evans will continue to be Winston’s No. 1 and go-to receiver, but lining up on the other side is speedster wide receiver, DeSean Jackson. With Jackson on the opposite side, safeties will be forced to play a little deeper to respect his speed, making it harder to roll coverage in Evans’ direction. That will result in a lot more man-to-man coverages for Evans. Advantage Evans.

When the defense does roll coverage Evans’ way, Jackson has proven he is one of the best deep threat receivers in the NFL, something Winston has never had since coming into the league. In fact, Winston had only four passes over 40 yards last season, tying him for 28th in the league. Jackson, on the other hand, had five such catches in 2016, one short of the league lead.

The Bucs didn’t stop there, no pun intended. They went out and drafted what many experts considered the best TE in this year’s draft and one of the best TEs to come out of college in a while. NFL.com’s scouting profile had this to say about OJ Howard;

Can adjust to poorly thrown balls and secure contested catches. Shows no lack of toughness over the middle. Can be lined up all over the field… Has elite ceiling as playmaker.

He will likely start the season slowly, as most tights end do because of the dramatic learning curve from college to the pros at the position, but he is still a weapon that defenses will have to respect and could become a good red-zone option for Winston.

And finally, I’m expecting the Bucs running game to be better than it was in 2016. Doug Martin was not himself last season and spent part of the season — and offseason — in rehab for drug abuse. Martin will miss the first three games of the 2017 season, but by all accounts, he is a new man and ready to get back to the player he was two seasons ago when he was a First Team All-Pro RB, rushing for over 1,400 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims will carry the load over those first three games, something they did admirably in Martin’s absence last season, but all three will have a role when Martin gets back.

The outlook for the Bucs is a good one in 2017, and Jameis Winston will benefit from it the most. It is still too early to talk about a player’s ADP, but my guess is Winston won’t go as high as he should, and he could end up being this year’s Matt Ryan, which is ironic because it’s Ryan’s spot that Winston will take in the top five.

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
FanDuel photo
Play for your share of $1m+
for FREE with first deposit
CBS Sports photo
Serious Fantasy Football
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
2Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
3Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
4Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
5David Johnson (ARI)RB
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
8Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
9Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
10Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Julio Jones (ATL)WR
12Michael Thomas (NO)WR
13Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
14Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
15A.J. Green (CIN)WR
16Mike Evans (TB)WR
17Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
18LeSean McCoy (BUF)RB
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Davante Adams (GB)WR
21Mark Ingram (NO)RB
22Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
23Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
24Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
25Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
26Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
27Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
28Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
29Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
30T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF
2Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Trea Turner (WSH)SS
5Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
6Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
7Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
8Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
9Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
10Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
 View All Rankings 
11Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
12Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
13Carlos Correa (HOU)SS
14Joey Votto (CIN)1B
15Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
16Chris Sale (BOS)SP
17Manny Machado (BAL)3B
18Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
19Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
20J.D. Martinez (BOS)RF
21Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
22Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
23George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
24Josh Donaldson (TOR)3B
25Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,LF
26Stephen Strasburg (WSH)SP
27Noah Syndergaard (NYM)SP
28Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
29Brian Dozier (MIN)2B
30Gary Sanchez (NYY)C
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12Chris Paul (HOU)PG
13Damian Lillard (POR)PG
14Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
15Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
16Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
17Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
18Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
19Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
20Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
21Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
22CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
23Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
24Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
25Marc Gasol (MEM)C
26Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
27Paul Millsap (DEN)PF,C
28Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
29Eric Bledsoe (MIL)PG,SG
30Blake Griffin (DET)PF,C