Watching Jameis Winston play football always brings out a roller coaster of emotions, regardless of whether you're rooting for or against the 26-year-old QB.
This is because Winston is essentially the NFL's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One play will showcase the former No. 1 overall pick's rare willingness to sit in the pocket amidst chaos before unleashing and completing a rocket downfield into tight coverage. The next play could very well be an absurd pick-six that even rookies would be ashamed of.
Winston's masterpiece occurred in 2019, when he threw a pick-six on the last play of the season to register the first 30 TD/30 INT season in NFL history. It probably could've been even worse; he arguably had another 20 interceptions dropped.
And yet, Winston isn't exactly bad. His career average of 7.75 yards per attempt ranks 10th among 48 QBs to start at least 16 games since 2015. Winston is also No. 10 in passing touchdowns and No. 7 in passing yards during this stretch. Sure, Winston is 29th in QB Rating, dead last in interceptions, and tied for last in fumbles ... but he's also been the QB18 in fantasy points per game during his five-year career. Winston finished the 2019 season as fantasy's fifth-highest scoring QB.
Say what you will about the man's 28-42 record and consistent penchant for bone-headed turnovers, but he's as entertaining as any QB in the league for better and for worse. I wanted to pay homage to more players that have made a habit of displaying Winston's extreme boom-or-bust nature. Again: I very much enjoy watching Winston play football and think the NFL is a better product with him as one of the league's 32 starting QBs. None of the players that will be listed are bad; they just tend to trade big-time highs with similarly extreme lows.
Note that Winston isn't eligible because he's obviously the perfect Jameis Winston. There are other players that deserve this "honor."
Without further ado: The First-Edition of the Jameis Winston All Stars.
QB: Daniel Jones
Pretty much everyone mocked the Giants for selecting Jones with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2019 draft. Sure, the 6-foot-5 and 215-pound QB literally looked the part, but Jones largely posted underwhelming numbers while facing meh competition at Duke.
Jones undoubtedly exceeded expectations as a rookie, parlaying a dominant preseason campaign into a regular season that consisted of 3,027 yards, 24 TDs and just 12 INTs. It was particularly entertaining and fruitful from a fantasy perspective, as only Lamar Jackson (7) had more games with at least 30 fantasy points than Jones (3) at the QB position.
Of course, there was one massive problem that was regularly on display during the experience: holding onto the ball. Overall, Jones had *18* fumbles in just 12 starts. Carson Wentz (16) was the only other QB with more than 15.
Jones is athletic enough to extend plays, but he needs to be more careful with the football. This is certainly a skill that can be learned; Lamar Jackson had 12 fumbles in seven starts as a rookie before fumbling just nine times during his 2019 MVP campaign.
Jones' ability to rack up big plays and mistakes alike with his talented group of skill-position players is as similar to Winston as any QB in the league. Even if he doesn't improve the decision making in year two, I'll still enjoy tuning into each and every Giants game.
RB: Chris Carson
The Seahawks snagged Carson in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. He wound up being the team's most-efficient RB as a rookie in a hilariously-crowded backfield that included: Eddie Lacy, Mike Davis, Thomas Rawls, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise.
Then Seattle drafted Rashaad Penny with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2018 draft and everyone assumed that Carson would work as a clear backup. This didn't happen, as Carson wound up taking over the backfield and posted 247-1,151-9 rushing and 20-163-0 receiving lines with just three fumbles in 14 games.
Carson's plus athleticism (77th-percentile SPARQ-x athlete) and physical running style has led to a plethora of wild highlights over the years. He literally flipped over a man once.
Still, 2019 featured an alarming mix of good and bad moments.
- Career-high marks in carries (278), rushing yards (1,230), receptions (37), receiving yards (266) and receiving scores (2).
- Only Nick Chubb (79), Josh Jacobs (78) and Christian McCaffrey (75) broke more tackles than Carson (74) in 2019 (PFF)
- Carson led all RBs with seven fumbles. Inconveniently for fantasy managers, Carson had two separate three-game streaks of fumbles that led to multiple in-game benchings.
Carson largely split reps with Penny when both were healthy down the stretch of last season. More funny business and inability to hang on to the ball could force coach Pete Carroll's hand sooner rather than later, but in the meantime expect to see more defenders grasping for air more times than not when attempting to bring down the Seahawks' boom-or-bust RB.
WR: Will Fuller
Fuller had a two-game stretch in 2019 that tells you all you need to now about his inclusion on this list:
- Week 5: 16 targets, 14 receptions, 217 yards, 3 TDs
- Week 6: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 44 yards, 0 TDs ... *3* dropped TDs
That's right: Fuller had a chance to rack up six scores in two games.
The Texans' ace field-stretching WR has largely traded big plays with drops throughout his entire football career. This is at least somewhat due to his painfully small 8.25 inch hands, which rank in the second percentile among WRs (PlayerProfiler). Fuller scored 29 TDs during his final two seasons at Notre Dame ... but was also charged with 18 drops.
We haven't seen the end of Fuller's boom-or-bust nature, particularly considering how many targets are available in the Texans Offense without DeAndre Hopkins. Expect Fuller to continue to blaze by plenty of corners in 2020, but realize that getting open and hanging onto the ball are two entirely separate processes here.
TE: Eric Ebron
The much-maligned TE has carried sky-high expectations ever since being drafted with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2014 draft. He was largely a bust, failing to surpass five TDs or 750 yards in a single season with the Lions from 2014-2017. To be fair Ebron ranked No. 6, No. 4, No. 4 and No. 3 on his own team in targets during those four seasons; there wasn't a lot of opportunity to go around behind the likes of Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Theo Riddick among others.
Then 2018 happened. Ebron parlayed a career-high 110 targets into a season-long 66-750-13 line, serving as Andrew Luck's featured red-zone target and No. 2 pass-game option behind only T.Y. Hilton.
Last season's encore was pretty far from good, as Ebron went for 31-375-3 in just 11 injury-riddled games. He did average more yards per target in 2019 (7.2) than 2018 (6.8), but this wasn't enough to salvage his reputation considering his butter fingers.
Ebron has been one of the NFL's most-frequent drop artists at the TE position since entering the league:
- 2014: 4 drops (tied for No. 17 among all TEs)
- 2015: 6 (tied for No. 6)
- 2016: 7 (tied for No. 1)
- 2017: 6 (tied for No. 6)
- 2018: 5 (tied for No. 5)
- 2019: 5 (tied for No. 3)
Remember: 2018 was the only season that Ebron was ever utilized as anything more than his offense's No. 3 pass-game option, meaning his drops haven't exactly a factor of excess volume.
Personally, I love the fit of Ebron in Pittsburgh. He provides a big-bodied red-zone threat in an offense that has been searching for the right athletically-gifted TE for years. Still, don't expect the Ebron experience to be without at least a few negatives here and there in the way of drops.
OL: Andrus Peat
Shout out to the XFL's Director of Football Operations and underrated Twitter follow Sam Schwartzstein for this one.
Peat certainly hasn't been a bad player throughout the entirety of his five-year career, but things have been rough recently:
- 2015: PFF's No. 49 highest-graded tackle
- 2016: No. 41
- 2017: PFF's No. 29 highest-graded guard
- 2018: No. 86
- 2019: No. 73
Of course, Peat does deserve credit for starting 60 games over the past five seasons on what has routinely been one of the league's best offensive lines.
- 2015: No. 13 in adjusted line yards per rush, No. 7 in adjusted sack rate
- 2016: No. 1, No. 5
- 2017: No. 2, No. 2
- 2018: No. 2, No. 3
- 2019: No. 1, No. 3
It hasn't always been pretty, but the Saints felt good enough about their 26-year-old guard to give him a massive five-year, $57.5 million contract.
Yes, there have been plenty of times over the past two seasons when Peat has been the culprit behind a bad play. Also yes, he's a clear-cut starter on one of the best offenses in the NFL. It's safe to say Peat wasn't the reason why New Orleans was home early during January 2019 and 2020 alike, so chill out a bit on the ole Twittersphere Saints fans.
DL: Robert Quinn
The Bears have their most dynamic pass rush in recent memory between Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and recently-signed Robert Quinn, who re-emerged as one of the league's top-terrors off the edge with the Cowboys in 2019.
Overall, his 57 pressures post-suspension in Weeks 3-17 were tied for 13th among all edge defenders (PFF).
And yet, Quinn's biggest strength is often used against him. The bendy pass rusher at times takes himself out of plays by rushing up the field so aggressively, leading to wide rushing lanes and out-of-control tackle attempts.
- Quinn was PFF's No. 19 highest-graded edge defender as a pass rusher, but ranked 112th and 102nd in run defense and tackling, respectively.
- The Cowboys allowed 4.36 adjusted line yards per rush over left end (No. 21 – where Quinn played 100% of his snaps) compared to 3.43 on rushes over right end (No. 10).
I'd argue that sacks and pressures are important enough to warrant a decrease in performance against the run. The Bears apparently agreed, handing Quinn a five-year, $70 million contract.
Quinn has been at his best as a defense's No. 2 DE during his career. This will again be afforded to him in Chicago, something that should make each and every NFC North QB very concerned.
LB: Jamie Collins
Note that the two hardest positions to pick in this study were linebacker and safety.
There aren't many freakier athletes than the Lions' new high-paid LB.
Still, more impressive than Collins' sporadic displays of out-of-this-world athleticism has been the manner in which he's gone about making money. This career has been quite the tale of what Bill Belichick can do for a talented defender. Let's take a look at Collins' timeline:
- 2013: Drafted 52nd overall to Patriots
- 2016: Traded to Browns for 2016 third-round pick after making a Pro Bowl
- 2017: Signed four year, $50 million contract with Browns
- 2019: Cut by the Browns after failing to live up to expectations
- 2019: Re-signed with the Patriots on a pedestrian one year contract with just $250,000 in guaranteed money
- 2020: Signed three year, $30 million contract with Lions after balling out with the Patriots again the previous season
Collins has a unique blend of elite ability as both a pass rusher as well as in coverage that can be one helluva problem for offenses to deal with when he's properly utilized. We've seen the low floor away from Belichick and company, but expect coach Matt Patricia to recall past experiences and get the most out of Collins.
CB: Marcus Peters
Peters has always been a bit of a boom-or-bust corner throughout his career. Nobody has more interceptions (27) or pick-sixes (6) than Peters since he entered the league in 2015, but we've also seen him allow more than a few touchdowns in 2015 (8), 2016 (3), 2017 (4), 2018 (6) and 2019 (5) alike. Overall, only Malcolm Butler (28) has allowed more receiving scores than Peters (26) over the past five seasons.
The Ravens were a very solid secondary in 2019 that bordered on elite. The league's most blitz-heavy defense also consistently left their (talented) corners on islands in an effort to force opposing QBs to get rid of the ball quickly.
This scheme turned out to be a perfect fit for Peters, who found himself ranked favorably in a number of key individual categories last season:
- Combined forced fumbles, interceptions and pass breakups: No. 11
- QB Rating allowed: No. 17
- Penalties against: No. 19
- Coverage snaps per reception: No. 25
- Yards allowed per coverage snap: No. 19
- Overall combined individual rank: No. 2
Baltimore has a plethora of solid CBs on their roster, but Peters stood out as a key playmaker that was way more boom than bust in 2019. Ideally these corners will benefit from better pressure without sending as many blitzers in 2020 after the Ravens reloaded across the defensive front.
S: Tre Boston
The veteran safety has played 88 games for the Panthers, Chargers and Cardinals over the past six seasons, racking up 14 interceptions and 334 tackles along the way.
Here's the thing about Boston: the man can hit.
Boston is also excellent in coverage; PFF graded him as the league's fourth-best cover safety among 103 qualified players in 2019.
However, Boston graded out as the fourth-worst safety against the run.
Similarly to Quinn, Boston is a good player that is vastly superior against the pass compared to the run. This is better than the reverse in today's NFL. Either way, Boston's combination of pristine coverage ability and hard-hitting mentality has made him fun to watch in a league that has largely tried to eliminate the intimidating hard-hitting safety. Additionally, fantasy managers benefited from playing any and every RB against the Panthers in 2019 due to the defense's general inability to stop the run.
Here's to many more high-scoring and hard-hitting Sundays afternoons featuring the Panthers in 2020.