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Heading in to the 2016 season, I spent a lot of time telling you that Blake Bortles was going to be a . Bortles was coming off a sophomore season in which he threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was being drafted as a top-six quarterback.
Things did not go well for people drafting him that high.
Yes, Bortles finished as a top-10 quarterback in Fantasy in 2016, but he threw for 500 fewer yards and only 23 touchdowns. He also threw another 16 interceptions. Bortles was closer to 15th on a per-game basis and you were better off streaming DSTs against him than you were starting him.
Jameis Winston, the favorite breakout quarterback for many for this season, outscored Bortles by two Fantasy points last year. Winston threw two more interceptions. But the real similarities are not between these two quarterbacks last season; let's take a look at their sophomore campaigns:
If you want to go to some the more advanced stats, they don't look any less similar. Winston had an ANY/A (factors in sacks, touchdowns and interceptions) of 5.98 compared to Bortles' 6.09. Winston did outperform Bortles according to QBR, 64.7 to 55.9.
Bortles and Winston are two of five quarterbacks since 2000 to throw at least 33 interceptions in their first two seasons. The list is not going to make you feel better about this exercise.
There's a lot of talk about cutting back Bortles' attempts (or even benching him) in Year 4. That's because he got worse in Year 3, which we certainly hope won't be the case with Winston. But it is important to note that we've already seen Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pull back on the reins.
Winston threw 177 passes in the first four weeks last season, including eight interceptions. Over the remainder of the season he averaged just 32 pass attempts per game. That's on pace for 512 attempts, which cannot produce the type of breakout Fantasy owners are hoping for. Especially if Winston isn't considerably more efficient than he's been so far in his career.
To be clear, this isn't meant as an indictment of Jameis Winston's potential. Remember that list above? If I'd gone back to the '90s you would have seen a guy named Peyton Manning. Great quarterbacks have thrown a lot interceptions in their first two years in the league and overcome it.
This is meant to shine a light on the warts that currently exist in Winston's game. He must take better care of the ball, because his head coach has already shown that he'll cut Winston's pass attempts if he doesn't. You could hear that sentiment on Hard Knocks earlier this season when Koetter told Winston, "We've got a good defense, so maybe we've got to cut our risk a little bit."
Winston is at a bit of a fork in the road. He can work his tail off and take the next step as we saw Peyton Manning eventually do, or he can wilt under expectations as Bortles did in 2016. The Fantasy Football community as a whole is treating Winston as if one of those outcomes is far more likely than the other. I would disagree.
Winston is a fine pick as a late-round quarterback once you've stacked your team at the other positions. His ADP will not allow that. He's being drafted as the eighth quarterback off the board, ahead of Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford. I would rather have all five of those quarterbacks and let someone else sweat Winston's growing pains.