How Jameis Winston Impacts Fantasy Rankings For Marquez Callaway, Alvin Kamara, More Saints Players

How Jameis Winston Impacts Fantasy Rankings For Marquez Callaway, Alvin Kamara, More Saints Players article feature image
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Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara

  • Alvin Kamara's fantasy ranking: Unchanged. Marquez Callaway's fantasy outlook: Potentially up. How about the rest of the Saints players?
  • Our analysts -- including the No. 1 draft ranker of 2021 -- weigh in on how Jameis Winston being named the Saints' Week 1 starter impacts fantasy draft strategy.

Jameis Winston has edged out Taysom Hill — at least for Week 1.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Friday that Winston will start the Saints’ season opener against the Packers on Sept. 12, finally “ending” one of the most important quarterback battles heading into the 2021 NFL season.

The kicker is that, while Winston has secured the starting job, there is no guarantee how long he’ll hold it for — or how Sean Payton could still deploy Hill.

With that in mind, we asked our fantasy football analysts how this news is impacting their draft strategy as it pertains to Saints players. Find out which players they believe stand to benefit most from Winston under center … and why New Orleans remains an un-friendly team for fantasy managers.

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Sean Koerner

Sean is our Director of Predictive Analytics and was the No. 1 draft ranker of 2019 according to FantasyPros.

Winston starting Week 1 was always the most likely scenario — how long he can hold off Taysom Hill still remains the question.

Given that uncertainty, Alvin Kamara is still the only slam-dunk fantasy option on the Saints.That said, Marquez Callaway does benefit from Winston being under center, and should be their No. 1 WR until Michael Thomas is able to return.

With Adam Trautman potentially on the shelf for the first couple of games, Juwan Johnson (WR converted to TE) could be worth a flier in deeper TE-premium formats. But Johnson potentially being their No. 3 or 4 option illustrates how fantasy un-friendly this team has become.

Samantha Previte

Samantha is a fantasy football analyst who can be heard on the Fantasy Flex Podcast.

Winston starting Week 1 was the expected outcome of the Saints’ quarterback competition and should have positive repercussions on the New Orleans’ pass-catchers — for now.

The decision makes drafting running back Alvin Kamara as high as RB3 a no-brainer, especially in PPR formats. A Winston-led offense should help Kamara — and his insurance policy, Latavius Murray — even if that means a pass-heavier offense. The 26-year-old caught 83 passes last season, the most among running backs and 19th overall (tied with D.K. Metcalf).

Winston should also benefit fantasy’s favorite new, late-round sleeper: Marquez Callaway. The 2020 undrafted free agent had an electric performance in the Saints’ preseason Week 2 win over the Jaguars. Winston — who offers much more deep ball upside than Hill — connected with Callaway on 5-of-5 targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

This connection is especially salient given Michael Thomas’ injury status: The star wideout is expected to miss at least eight weeks this season while recovering from ankle surgery, leaving the Saints bereft of a standout, No. 1 target. Tre’Quan Smith was the initial heir-apparent, but with the chemistry Callaway is developing with Winston, I could absolutely see the Year 2 receiver getting peppered with targets downfield this season.

Tight end Adam Trautman is a sleeper I’ve been pumping up this preseason with the potential to finish top-12. With Jared Cook out of the picture and Thomas sidelined, Trautman has a clear path to fantasy-relevance when he returns. The second-year tight end was carted off the field on Monday, but it appears he escaped any major injury. He should also benefit from Winston winning the QB duel.

All this said, Winston’s erratic tendencies in Tampa Bay are what lost him his job. And given that the Saints have an alternative rostered whom they clearly like, an in-season switch at quarterback remains well within the realm of possibilities.

Winston is also worth keeping on your radar heading into drafts as a standalone fantasy asset. He has obvious appeal in two-quarterback and super flex formats, and is a solid streaming option in 1QB leagues for as long as he holds onto the job.

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