The Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady are not only the defending Super Bowl Champions and the clear class of the NFC South, but in the eyes of oddsmakers, are one of the strong favorites to win it all once again in 2021. The Carolina Panthers are expected to experience some growing pains as they look to rejuvenate the career of quarterback Sam Darnold after acquiring him from the New York Jets in the offseason. The Atlanta Falcons, who are expected to be proficient on the offensive side of the ball thanks to the leadership of Matt Ryan, are still only power ranked in Las Vegas sportsbooks as an average team with a 7.5 season win total.
This leaves us with the New Orleans Saints, who will face the dilemma of starting veteran Jameis Winston or the versatile Taysom Hill. Oddsmakers have posted that Winston will be the one to replace the retired Drew Brees as the starting quarterback in Week 1 at prohibitive odds of -360.
Jameis Winston (-360)
Jameis Winston is heavily favored as the Week 1 starting quarterback for the Saints when they face the Green Bay Packers as 2.5-point home underdogs. The veteran only threw for 75 passing yards in limited duty backing up Brees last season. The former Florida State standout has thrown for 19,812 yards and 121 touchdowns in his six seasons in the NFL. However, one major area Winston has struggled with is ball security. In just 76 games, he has thrown a staggering 88 interceptions.
My colleague Shawn Childs emphasized in his Saints fantasy team outlook:
Over 70 career starts, Winston went 28-42, with his only winning record coming in 2016 (9-7). In 2019, Winston led the NFL in passing yards (5,109) with plenty of touchdowns (33) and attempts (626), but his incredibly high number of interceptions (30 – seventh-highest all-time) keeps his opponents in games too often.
Taysom Hill (+255)
Taysom Hill has developed into one the most dangerous and versatile players in the NFL, lining up and taking snaps for the Saints at quarterback, wideout, running back, and tight end. Last season, Hill rushed for 457 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground while hauling in eight receptions for 98 yards and a score. The ‘Swiss Army Knife” also displayed accuracy in an expanded role as quarterback completing 72.7% of his passes for 928 yards and four touchdowns.
Childs believes the Saints will employ a two quarterback system most of the 2021 season:
New Orleans will rotate two quarterbacks in 2021. Hill played well with Drew Brees out last year, giving him a window to prove he belongs as their number one quarterback.
Ian Book (+5000)
Ian Book, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, was a solid quarterback throwing for 8,948 yards and 72 touchdowns in his collegiate career for Notre Dame. Book would need an injury to either Winston or Hill to even see the field in his rookie campaign. His massive +5000 odds should not entice any bettors to invest in Book for anything other than a third-string role in 2021.
Finding a reliable starting signal-caller in the NFL is hard enough, but the task ratchets up another level when replacing a Hall of Fame talent at the position. In early drafts this summer, fantasy owners believe Winston will take over due to the veteran’s edge as a pocket passer.
As we always stress, laying prohibitive odds is not wise bankroll management. Although Winston could have a starting role in Week 1, this is a tricky wagering market. Bettors need to take note that this market stood at -200 in favor of Winston back in early May. All the value currently resides with Hill at his attractive +255 odds thanks to his hybrid ability at multiple positions, combined with strong support from head coach Sean Payton.
Bet: Saints Week 1 Starter - Taysom Hill +255
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