If you could step back in time to August, it probably would have been helpful to know that Mike Shanahan – author of The N.Y. Times best selling horror novel: Shanahanigans! – would actually start the same RB, Alfred Morris, every game this season. It also wouldn’t hurt to know that RGIII – a rookie going in round 7 of most drafts – would be the season’s best fantasy QB. These outcomes were about as likely to happen as Jim Harbaugh moonlighting as Screech’s cousin on Saved by the Bell.
There’s no doubt it would have taken a bold prediction to foresee any of those events happening. In the case of Morris & RGIII, even if you wouldn’t buy into the notion of both doing quite so well back in August, a bold prediction still may have nudged you to draft either before your competition.
With this non-conventional thinking in mind, we asked the top 20 experts in our accuracy competition to give us a bold prediction for the fantasy playoffs. Here’s what the experts had to say…
Fantasy Playoff Bold Predictions
“After flopping in Pittsburgh this weekend, fantasy tease Ryan Mathews will finish the season with three consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 15-17 against three of the 10 most generous defenses against fantasy backs. The Panthers allow the sixth-most points, the Jets the seventh-most, and the Raiders the fifth-most. With Norval’s fate reportedly sealed, it’s his chances to finally make good on turning Mathews into the workhorse that he promised all offseason.” – Chris Wesseling (Rotoworld)
“Chris Givens will emerge as a Top 10 fantasy wide receiver during the fantasy playoffs. The Rams’ wideout has posted 16 catches for 207 yards and a score over his last two games and has matchups with the Bills, Vikings and Bucs on tap. Even with the potential return of Danny Amendola, Givens will be a star down the stretch.” – Justin Boone (TSN)
“Brandon Pettigrew will be a top-five fantasy tight end from Weeks 14 to 16. Without injured receivers Ryan Broyles, Titus Young and Nate Burleson and the attention from opposing defenses that Megatron should expect, Pettigrew may see even more targets down the stretch. He has 39 targets in his past four games and even had 15 two weeks ago.” – Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)
“Mark Sanchez will be a fantasy stud for weeks 14 thru 17. The Jets will face 3 teams in the Jags, Titans and Bills who are in the top ten for allowing fantasy points to QBs. In week 16 they will face a Chargers team that will have given up by then. If you have the guts Sanchez could lead you to a fantasy title! Now that my friends is BOLD.” – Ken Zalis (Fans Fantasy Football)
“Nick Foles will light it up in Week 14. Foles produced his best game on Sunday night completing 22-of-34 for 251 yards, a TD and no interceptions against a good Cowboys’ defense. Foles should find things much easier against a Tampa Bay defense whose best pass defense sometimes is drawing an interference penalty. The offensive line that was a huge problem for Vick has been providing adequate protection for Foles. Tampa Bay has allowed the third most points to quarterbacks and the most passing yards of any NFL defense (319 per game).“ – David Dodds (FootballGuys)
“Despite a disappointing season overall up until now, Cam Newton will win many owners a championship and be a Top 5 quarterback down the stretch. He’s on a roll and will be bolstered by a Week 16 matchup with the Oakland Raiders, fantasy’s third-best matchup for quarterbacks at the time of writing.” – Justin Sablich (The N.Y. Times)
“My bold prediction for the fantasy playoffs is that the players who have been injured all season will lead your team to a title. Greg Jennings is the first player to come to mind. He is about to enter free agency, Jordy is ailing, and he has the best QB in the league. The stars are aligning for a big finish.” – Mike Tagliere (Tags Fantasy Football)
“QB Josh Freeman and WR Vincent Jackson will rank in the top-five at their respective positions in fantasy points scored during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16). Tampa Bay has enticing passing matchups down the stretch (PHI, at NO, STL) and they have motivation to claim one of the two wild card spots in the NFC. It doesn’t hurt that their pass defense is equally as bad – ensuring potential shootouts each week.” – Bryan Fontaine (Pro Football Focus)
“Fred Jackson will be a better fantasy option than C.J. Spiller to end the 2012 season. Week 13 reminded Spiller owners that his electric playmaking ability is not enough to remove the thorn in their side that is Fred Jackson when both backs are healthy. Jackson was in on 69 percent of offensive plays versus Jacksonville while C.J. Spiller was only in on 37 percent. Jackson also tallied nearly double the touches in the contest. The Bills host a great run matchup in the Rams Week 14, in what will be a cold, rainy game. WR Steve Johnson told the media this week that the Bills would be relying heavily on Jackson once again Sunday.” – Alex Dunlap (Roster Watch)
“Steven Jackson posts RB1 numbers in the fantasy playoffs. Jackson has had a rough schedule for most of the season, with only one truly favorable matchup against the Packers in Week 7 (where he rushed 12 times for 57 yards and a touchdown). In the last four weeks, he has averaged 21.8 carries for 92 yards in four pretty tough matchups against the 49ers (twice), Jets and Cardinals. His schedule lightens up considerably against the Bills, Vikings and Buccaneers, who have all struggled against the run in 2012.” – John Paulsen (4for4.com)
“Mr. December will strike again. Titans TE Jared Cook will follow up his massive late-season production from 2010 and 2011 with top-five fantasy tight end numbers the rest of the way. In the four games Cook has run at least 80 percent of the team’s pass routes, he’s totaled 31 targets. Since the team’s Week 11 bye, he’s totaled 18 targets in two games. We know he has the athleticism. The massive increase in reps under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will lead to consistent production.” – Mike Clay (Pro Football Focus)
“Wide receivers are getting hit hard with the injury bug heading into the fantasy playoffs. If you own Jordy Nelson, Percy Harvin, or even Danny Amendola, you could be in rough shape at any WR spot. I think the answer to many owners’ WR problems could be Browns receiver Josh Gordon. He turned in his fist 100+ yard day of his career last week, and is averaging 5 receptions for 76+ yards per game over his last three games. With tasty matchups with the Chiefs and Redskins the next two weeks, he’s a nice sleeper guy (available in a ton of leagues) that could blow up and help you win in the playoffs.” – Kevin Roberts (NFL Soup)
“Bryce Brown will be this year’s Larry Johnson-lite circa 2005. Back in 2005, Larry Johnson burst onto the scene following a Priest Holmes season-ending injury and won many a fantasy owner their league. Fast forward seven years and we’re now looking at a similar situation (albeit in a shorter time-span) with LeSean McCoy potentially out for the year and Bryce Brown emerging as a major fantasy asset. Brown leads all fantasy backs in points over the last two weeks and is primed to continue that trend in the fantasy playoffs. As long as McCoy remains sidelined, look for Brown to finish the season as a top 5 running back in Weeks 14-17 and bring home the trophy for owners that had the foresight (luck?) to snag him off waivers two weeks ago.” – Nick Raducanu (The Fantasy Fix)
“Ben Roethlisberger is going to help win a lot of fantasy championships. Pittsburgh has played themselves into “must win” mode and the return of a healthy Big Ben will not only revive the value of Mike Wallace, Heath Miller and Antonio Brown, it will lead to big things for Jonathan Dwyer.” – Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)
“Two of the most unlikely guys will lead you to a fantasy championship. Ben Roethlisberger will be back in time for the fantasy playoffs, and with a questionable backfield, will see at least 290-300 yards in each of those games. From a RB-perspective, you likely drafted Steven Jackson as an RB2 or Flex but he’ll perform as an RB1 throughout the playoffs.” – Fantasy Football Nerd
Thank to all of the experts for gazing into their crystal ball and giving us predictions. We’ll be keeping an eye out over the coming weeks to see which picks hit the mark. Best of luck to everyone this weekend!