NFL Betting: Who Will Be the Saints' Starting Quarterback in Week 1?
The 2021 NFL season will see the beginning of a new era for the New Orleans Saints, as one of their greatest players announced his retirement during the offseason. Drew Brees -- after 15 seasons, 68,010 passing yards, 491 touchdown passes, and a Super Bowl trophy -- called it quits after the Saints fell in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
FanDuel Sportsbook is offering odds on who they think the Saints opening week quarterback will be in the immediate post-Brees era. The favorite is Jameis Winston, available at odds of -280, followed by Taysom Hill at +220. Further back in the betting we have rookie Ian Book at +1600, while the longest shot is former Denver Broncos signal-caller Trevor Siemian. You can get him at +2000.
Let's take a look at which of these four players you should bet on.
Winston was a member of the Saints in 2020, but he hardly saw the field. Even with Brees missing four games. He attempted just 11 passes, completing 7 for 75 yards. The last time he saw extended action back in 2019 for the Bucs, he led the NFL in pass attempts (626) and passing yards (5,109) while tossing 30 touchdowns. But he also led the league with 30 interceptions, including 7 pick-sixes.
Hill, a utility player who has spent most of his NFL career as the apple of Sean Payton's eye, started the four games Brees missed last season, going 3-1. Throughout the season, he dropped back 135 times and completed 88 of his 121 pass attempts (72.7%) for 928 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 interceptions.
Hill averaged 0.10 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which was good for 26th among the 44 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs and was slightly below the league average of 0.13 (if you want to learn more about NEP, please visit our glossary).
The Saints spent the 133rd overall pick on Book in 2021 after four years with Notre Dame, three as the primary starter. He finished his time with the Fighting Irish with 8,948 passing yards and 72 touchdowns. In 2020, Book posted 2,830 passing yards and 15 touchdowns with 3 interceptions as he led Notre Dame to a 10-2 record. He finished ninth in the Heisman voting.
Book posted a college QBR of 84.0, good for 85th percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. But his yards-per-attempt mark of 8.0 was only good for the 46th percentile, plus he broke out late at age 20.4 (59th percentile).
Lastly, Siemian went 13-11 as the starter for the Broncos between 2016-17, but he has started just one game since then. That was back in 2019 with the New York Jets, but he suffered a gruesome injury after tossing just six passes. He offers a steady veteran presence, but if he is the answer then no one wants to know what the question is.
As much as Taysom Hill will no doubt play a part for the Saints, the man who, in my opinion, will take the first snap under center for the Saints in 2021 will be Jameis Winston.
As much fun as Sean Payton undoubtedly had in four games with Hill as the starter in 2020, Winston is the more traditional quarterback and makes more sense to be given the first shot to replace Brees. Whether he can rein in his aggressive tendencies and desire to force the ball into tight windows, well, that's another question. But if Winston wants to hold onto the job and land a long-term deal with the Saints (or someone else), he had better adapt.
For fantasy, the fact that Winston should earn the starting berth should not make them despair of Hill. Even with Brees playing at a Pro Bowl level in recent seasons, Payton was not above forcing Hill onto the field in goal-to-go situations and occasional high leverage situations. Winston's touchdown appeal is therefore likely to be somewhat capped by his teammate's rushing and throwing skills.
But this is a matter for another day. Winston will be the quarterback taking the bulk of the snaps, and on whom I would pin my hopes and my dollars.