Predictions and projections for the upcoming fantasy football season. Some bold, some basic, but stepping out on a limb and answering the lingering questions on fantasy football owners’ minds.
Let’s be honest: predictions aren’t worth the price of the paper on which they’re written. Everybody’s got them and few are consistently accurate.
You could take a blindfolded monkey, sit him in a bunkered office on the night of a lunar eclipse, spin him around in a chair and let him fling his dung at a bulletin board full of Post-it notes and he might out-predict the experts.
Still, there’s something oddly appealing about predictions, and here’s my random flinging at a cork board … maybe some of it will stick.
Prediction: Matt Ryan will be overdrafted in far too many fantasy leagues
Ryan was a perfect sleeper quarterback last year. He slipped by in many fantasy football drafts and the prudent fantasy owner swooped in and picked him up and reaped all the rewards. This year, thanks to his MVP season, he is going to be drafted way too early and crush a lot of owners who draft him.
Prediction: Blake Bortles will have a rebound season
Bortles was a fantasy football darling last offseason as fantasy owners were eager to pick him up and watch him build upon his 2015 success. That did not happen, though, as his fantasy stats tanked, which led to his job being in jeopardy. That’s going to slide him all the way down draft boards and give owners the opportunity to get a potential steal. And if he busts again, you’re no worse off having spent a late pick on him.
Prediction: Fantasy owners will get nostalgic about 2015 MVP Cam Newton
I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that Newton’s 2015 MVP season was a fluke. Last year, Newton proved it. He’s been in the league for six seasons and only one of those seasons was "great" by fantasy standards. He’s a good player, his legs give him added fantasy value, but he’s not some fantasy superstar.
Prediction: Carson Wentz will be drafted as a backup but produce like a starter
Wentz is ranked somewhere in the middle of the pack of quarterbacks, and justifiably so. But he showed good progress in his rookie season and now the team has added playmakers around him, which will give his stats a boost. He shouldn’t be drafted as anybody’s starting quarterback, but he just might conclude the season as one.
Prediction: Marshawn Lynch will not return to "Beast Mode"
First, there’s the prospect that Lynch turned 31 in April and 30 seems to be the proverbial "wall" for running backs. Then, there’s the fact that Lynch last played football in Nov. 2015. Some might try to make the argument that "he’s fresh" now, but I don’t buy it. Lynch might have a modicum of success, but he’s not going to be a reliable fantasy option.
Prediction: Todd Gurley will show much improvement in 2017
Gurley was a major disappointment in 2016. Selected by many fantasy owners as their first-round draft pick, Gurley proceeded to tank many fantasy teams last year. But he’s too good not to rebound and post some respectable fantasy numbers. RB1-worthy? Maybe, maybe not. But he’ll certainly push that threshold.
Prediction: Adrian Peterson is done
Peterson recently claimed that he is aiming to play five more years, but I’ve got some news for the 32-year-old back: 1.9 yards per carry -- which is what he averaged in three games last year -- is not going to keep you on a roster for that long. Some think Peterson has defied the age barrier for running backs, but I don’t see how he has good fantasy success at his age in a pass-happy offense.
Prediction: C.J. Anderson will provide great late value
When a fantasy football owner sees a player at the top of his cheat sheet who is a member of a running back committee, that fantasy owner tends to pass right by that player to the next on his list. And yes, Anderson will be part of a committee that includes Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles. But as Anderson slides down the boards, his value increases and he’ll be a nice late-round pick for one lucky owner.
Prediction: The Ty Montgomery Running Back experience will suffer a setback
After the Packers slotted him in the backfield last year when their running back depth took a hit, Montgomery had moderate success in his transitional role. This offseason, they officially moved him to running back where he’ll start the season. Fantasy owners will see "starting running back" and "good offense" and snag him when available. And while I think he’ll show some flashes of playmaking ability, he’s not going to last.
Prediction: T.Y. Hilton’s numbers will take a significant hit in 2017
With fellow receiver Donte Moncrief missing time due to injury, Hilton had a solid season seeing more balls thrown his way. He caught 91 balls and led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448. But a healthy Moncrief will steal attention from him and Hilton will be drafted too high in too many leagues.
Prediction: Brandin Cooks will have sizzling numbers
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the New England Patriots, the model of consistency and franchise-building through the draft, do not trade assets for veteran players unless they have every intention of using that player. Cooks is going to post big numbers as the Patriots make yet one more Super Bowl push with Tom Brady at the helm.
Prediction: Jarvis Landry will earn that big contract he seeks
Landry is seeking a big contract at the end of this season, and that typically has a way of motivating a player not to take plays off and "do all the little things" to make him a success. Landry has always been targeted inside the Dolphins’ offense and he provides a nice weapon to Adam Gase’s offense.
Prediction: Martellus Bennett will post Top 5 fantasy numbers
Bennett is one of the most versatile tight ends in the league and he has a tremendous ability to pick up yards after the catch. In an offense with Aaron Rodgers slinging the ball to him, that means many more plays where Rodgers keeps a play alive with his feet leading to broken coverage and huge plays down field.
Prediction: O.J. Howard will get drafted too early in non-dynasty leagues
Howard will be one of the best dynasty league values a team can secure as the versatile, athletic tight end makes a name for himself in a solid crop of tight ends. But as he finds his NFL footing this season and tries to secure targets in the midst of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and fellow tight end Cameron Brate, the "shiny new allure" of his talent will cause owners in redraft leagues to select him too high.
Prediction: Julius Thomas will resemble his Denver Broncos days
Poor Thomas. When he signed a contract with the Jaguars two seasons ago, he didn’t realize that Jacksonville is the place talented players will usually languish. After securing 12 touchdowns in both 2013 and 2014 with the Broncos, Thomas caught only 9 combined in his two years in Jacksonville. Now reunited with Adam Gase in Miami -- who was Thomas’ offensive coordinator for those two solid years in Denver -- Thomas will look more like his Broncos self.