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Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill: Who to start in fantasy following Drew Brees’ injury?

Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill: Who to start in fantasy following Drew Brees’ injury?
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 15: Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints attempts a pass during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 15, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Heading into Week 11 on the NFL calendar, the New Orleans Saints will be without one of their organization’s pillars, causing a massive ripple effect across the fantasy football landscape. After suffering multiple rib fractures, Saints QB Drew Brees will be out for an extended period of time, leaving fantasy managers to choose between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, as they take over the reins of the offense. With fantasy waiver wire claims needing to be submitted today, which of the Saints’ backup quarterbacks is the best option to place your FAAB money on moving forward? Having just four weeks to secure your spot in your league’s fantasy playoffs, this decision could make or break several teams. 

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Update: Will Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill start on Sunday?

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Saints’ QB Taysom Hill will start Sunday vs. the Falcons. Schefter notes that Hill took all the starter reps at practice this week and that Jameis Winston will be the backup. However, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports that Winston will not be a part of any offensive packages on Sunday vs. the Falcons. For more on what to expect from Hill and how we got here in the first place, keep reading below.

For the story from PFN fantasy analyst (and also ESPN analyst) on how former special teams coach Mike Westhoff may have contributed to Taysom Hill’s rise up the Saints roster, listen to Anita tell the story of how it all began in New Orleans.

Saints QB Drew Brees will miss time after suffering multiple rib fractures

There is a difference between playing hurt and injured. There is also a major difference when playing football puts your life in danger. It is rare to see someone like Drew Brees take himself out of a game, but that is what happened as the Saints were coming out of halftime when he told head coach Sean Payton that he wouldn’t be able to continue. After the game, we learned why and it is a scary injury, to say the least, but shows Brees’ heart even to play as long as he did in the first half. 

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that the results of medical evaluations performed Monday on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees revealed that he has multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest and a collapsed lung on the right side, according to a source.

Related | Fantasy WR Injury Report Week 11: Kenny Golladay, Calvin Ridley key injury updates

Brees is suffering from three fractured ribs on his left side and two on the right, possibly more, according to the source. 

The two broken ribs on his right side occurred in the first half of the Saints’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but the others apparently were not from their most recent game. 

The three fractured ribs on the left side are believed to have occurred in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. They did not show up on the X-ray performed at the time, possibly because of inflammation, but they were seen on the CAT scan performed Monday.

Doctors believe the fractures on his right side might have punctured his lung, which resulted in the quarterback’s difficulty breathing.

Brees‘ scans are being sent to medical specialists for second opinions to determine his chest injuries’ full extent, Werder reports. He will potentially be placed on the short-term IR, which will leave him out for at least three weeks, nearly putting him out for the remainder of the fantasy football season. Now Jameis Winston will look to replace Brees. What does that mean for fantasy? 

Jameis Winston will likely be the Saints starting QB with Brees unable to play

Jameis Winston appears likely to replace Saints QB Drew Brees for however long it takes him to recover from multiple rib fractures. If he can keep the team anywhere close to the 7-2 record they have right now, he might be able to resurrect his career just like Teddy Bridgewater did in this same scenario last year while filling in.

When he signed his one-year contract worth $1.1 million-plus incentives, Winston said he was eager to receive a “Harvard education in quarterback school” under Brees and coach Sean Payton. Let’s hope he has been hitting the books over this first semester as it’s time to see what he has learned. 

Jameis Winston showed some rust on Sunday as the Saints QB, giving fantasy managers reason to be concerned. He missed two throws and took two sacks in the red zone. And he nearly threw an interception over the middle of the field that would have sent Twitter into a frenzy, given he did that 30 times in 2019. 

Winston didn’t turn the ball over, and he did lead the Saints to both a field goal and a touchdown while completing 6-of-10 passes for 63 yards on Sunday.

I can’t put much fantasy stock into his performance in Week 10; with little time to prepare, Jameis Winston went out and managed the game. That is not how he normally plays, though.

Related | NFL Injury Report Week 11 for Fantasy: Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Brees headline

During each of his first two seasons in the league, Jameis Winston threw for over 4,000-plus yards. Last season, he led the NFL in passing yards, throwing for 5,109 yards and 30 touchdowns while finishing as the QB5 in fantasy.

However, all that gets remembered is the 30 interceptions, Crab legs, and whatever the whole “eat a W” thing was. It gets remembered for a good reason. You can sit back and throw as many risky balls as you want, and sure, you will rack up the yards, but if your receivers aren’t consistently bailing you out, you single-handily are ending drives. However, the situation is somewhat complicated, as Winston will not be the only guy under center.

No one loves you as much as Sean Payton loves Taysom Hill

The biggest issue for Jameis Winston’s fantasy potential is Taysom Hill. We know that Saints TE/RB/WR/QB/holder of Sean Payton’s heart Taysom Hill will see work, and for the money they are paying him, he better. Hill signed a contract to make himself one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Signing a two-year extension worth $21 million with $16 million guaranteed, and the average annual salary of $10.5 million making him the second-highest-paid backup quarterback in the league.

But what good has it done if we are being honest? There is a reason I listed QB last in his eligible positions. Hill has attempted just 20 passes in his ENTIRE NFL career. He has completed 11 of those passes for 255 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. His value to the team is not with his arm if I am being fair. It is in his ability to be used all over the field.

Hill has rushed 34 times for 186 yards and one touchdown while catching six of eight targets for 74 yards and another score. But even with that being said, you can’t find a way to justify his contract. Either he can do no wrong, or he knows some deep secrets of Payton. It has to be one or the other.

Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill: Which Saints QB to start in fantasy following Drew Brees’ injury?

For fantasy, you have to go with the actual quarterback in this case, which is Jameis Winston. Is Winston a great NFL QB? No, but Jameis Winston has shown he can be a great fantasy quarterback, which is what matters to us, and he also gets a great matchup in Week 11. 

Quarterbacks are scoring 6.7 more fantasy points than they do on average versus the Falcons, who rank dead-last in fantasy point allowed to quarterbacks with a whopping 26.02 per game average. They also rank second in PFN’s Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (D-PAC), which measures the consistency that team allows fantasy points against them, with a score of 12.66. 

They’re allowing 8.29 yards per attempt (third-most), a 6.29 percent touchdown-rate (fifth-highest), and a 68.0 percent completion-rate (ninth-highest). If there’s a week to trust Jameis Winston in fantasy, this is it, as eight quarterbacks have posted 18.4 fantasy points or more against the Falcons, including four top-five performances. 

When it comes to Taysom Hill, I would avoid spending too much FAAB money on him as his fantasy impact is minimal.

Taysom Hill has topped 10 fantasy points just twice, and five fantasy points four times on the season. That means don’t pick him up if you think Winston will play the same role as Brees did. With Teddy Bridgewater taking over last season from Week 2 through 7, Hill had just one pass attempt, six targets, and 10 rushing attempts.

For those who play in ESPN fantasy leagues, it is worth noting that they will be changing Hill’s positional designation for Week 11. ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry tweeted that due to Brees’ injury, Taysom Hill will be given QB eligibility, effective immediately.

He currently has TE eligibility as well, so he will have both this week. He did make it clear that they do have the right to change this based on how he is used. But for at least one week, he will have both. Giving fantasy managers another option when setting their lineups. I would check what each site does as this might not be exclusive to ESPN.

Want more fantasy football analysis and news? 

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also seeing our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.


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