Fantasy Football: 10 Early Bold Predictions

Jul 8, 2016

LeSean McCoy's talent could make him far more valuable than his ranking

LeSean McCoy’s talent could make him far more valuable than his ranking

It’s only July and you may be asking yourself how much fantasy football research can you do that will hold weight one month from now. You can actually do quite a bit. Whether it’s practicing with our Draft Simulator to get a sense of how a draft would shake out, or going through rankings and average draft positions to see how the players are stacked up; these are all useful things to start familiarizing yourself with. This way, you’re not oblivious to what was happening ahead of training camp.

There’s another bit of reading you can do that will hold weight as well. We’re presenting you with some very early bold predictions from various pundits. The beauty of a bold prediction is that while it may be a bit unexpected, it’s also not without some reasoning. It may happen, it may not. At least you’ll be aware of a possibility you may otherwise not have thought of. When it’s time to draft, all you can hope for is that the things you’ve read ahead of time are able to help you with your decision making. So before you crucify the predictions below, remember, they’re supposed to be bold.

Q. Please give us one bold fantasy related prediction ahead of most drafts taking place

“Let’s define bold. Saying a lot of wide receivers are going to be drafted early this year isn’t going out on a limb. Saying a running back will come out of nowhere to win people fantasy championships (do the names Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacey, C.J. Anderson and Justin Forsett ring any bells?) wouldn’t be especially bold either. It’s become the norm. But if you say that running back to carry you to a championship will be Bears rookie Jordan Howard, the kind of physical north/south runner who can wear down defenses (and that John Fox loves)… yeah, that’d be bold. And that’s my prediction.”
Bob Harris (Football Diehards)

“I’ve seen LeSean McCoy fall to Round 4 recently in a few of my industry drafts and I am having a really tough time resisting grabbing him once I get to Round 3. Injuries and off-the-field issues have stolen some of his headlines over the last 12 months, but when Shady was on the field a year ago, he looked like a high-end RB1 in the Bills’ run-first offense. Remarkably, McCoy is still only 28 years old and enters this season in full health, unlike a year ago. He averaged 75 yards rushing and 24 receiving last year, but only scored five times. With Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee in the fold, I do see room for some concern for how many carries he’ll get, but as an owner that was heavily invested in the running back during his first season in Buffalo, I can tell you firsthand that his lack of scoring was somewhat a fluke. I’m not predicting double-digit scores, but I do see him scoring at least a few more times (8-9 total TDs) and being a safe bet for 1,500 total yards if he plays a full season. He is a sure-fire top 10 pick with top-5 upside in PPR leagues and has the potential to catch 50+ balls.”
Dan Clasgens (Get Sports Info)

“My bold prediction is that Antonio Brown will top two major NFL records this year, including most receptions in a season (143) and most yards in a season (1,964). Brown recorded 136 receptions for 1,834 yards last season, but that was with Ben Roethlisberger missing four games. If you take the 12 games in which Brown played with Roethlisberger and extrapolate them over a full 16-game season, Brown was on pace for 159 receptions for 2,142 yards. With Martavis Bryant set to miss the 2016 season, Brown will undoubtedly see enough volume to have a legitimate shot at breaking both records.”
Tyler Loechner (Pro Football Focus)

“For the first year, I can recall there will be more than 75 percent of the first round gobbled up by wide receivers. The running backs just do not offer the certainty going into the preseason. Also, Rob Gronkowski will be the only non-RB/WR to go in Round 1 of most standard drafts.”
Eric Mack (Fantasy FatCast)

“There are 11 running backs currently being chosen in the first two rounds of 12-team leagues – Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Lamar Miller, Jamaal Charles, Devonta Freeman, Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin and Thomas Rawls – and it wouldn’t surprise me if at least seven of them didn’t finish in the top 20 of scoring at their position this year. Running backs have always been volatile, but this year’s crop seems especially risky. Bell has played a full season just once in his career thus far; Peterson turned 31 this offseason and could be set to decline; Johnson, Elliott, Miller and Rawls don’t have a history of shouldering heavy workloads; Freeman and Lacy were horrible down the stretch last year; Charles is banged up heading into training camp; and Martin just signed a big contract and may not be as motivated. I’m not saying all of these players will be busts, but most of them probably will be, so there’s more reason than ever to avoid running backs early on this summer.”
Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball)

Philip Rivers will finish the year as a top-5 fantasy quarterback and lead a ton of teams to fantasy championships. Rivers has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of the past seven seasons, yet is annually overlooked in favor of bigger names. Dating back to 2008, the 35-year-old has averaged just under 4,400 passing yards and 30 touchdowns each season. He enjoyed one of his best years in 2013 under Ken Whisenhunt, who just happens to be San Diego’s new offensive coordinator. Fantasy owners who bypass an early round signal-caller and load up on much scarcer positional depth will want to grab Rivers in the back-end of their fantasy draft, and they’ll likely find an every-week star player for a tremendously discounted price.”
Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts)

Ryan Mathews will be a top-10 fantasy RB in 2016. The Eagles may be swapping Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack for Doug Pederson’s West Coast offense, but for Mathews, it’s all about opportunity. Last season he averaged 5.1 yards per carry on just 106 attempts and scored seven total TDs in just 126 touches. DeMarco Murray is gone and there’s no guarantee rookie Wendell Smallwood will come in and take a bunch of carries away from Mathews right away. With a bigger workload, I think Mathews is well positioned for a banner year.”
Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Justin Forsett will be top 12 in total fantasy points (PPR scoring) for 2016! Last season, he missed six games due to an arm injury. This has caused his current ADP to float around the RB33/pick 88 range. In 2014, Forsett was top 10 in both total points and consistency. Under Marc Trestman, Forsett will be an RB1 once again in 2016.”
Bob Lung (Big Guy Fantasy Sports)

Eddie Lacy is going to be back to his 2013 form as a rookie and score 14 touchdowns this year. The most touchdowns Lacy has ever scored in a regular season has been 13 (nine rushing and three receiving back in 2014). Last year people were calling him Eddie “Fat” Lacy and his production took a huge dip. Lacy already lost around 20 pounds and I expect him to be a great goal-line back, punching it in for scores against teams like the Bears, Jags, Colts and Cowboys this season.”
Huseyin Aksu (Fantasy Couch)

Larry Fitzgerald will not finish as the Arizona Cardinals’ top fantasy wideout in 2016. I leave the door open a little bit here, as both Michael Floyd and John Brown really came onto the scene last year. Even J.J. Nelson can be considered a breakout candidate in Arizona’s prolific offense. The grizzled Fitz led the Cardinals in receptions (109), yards (1,215) and touchdowns (9) last season. Those numbers are almost certainly going to regress, but how much? If Fitzgerald is still healthy, he’s certainly still capable of respectable numbers, but he’ll be 33 years old in August, and the Cardinals have plenty of young talent at the position. My money is on either Floyd and/or Brown taking over as the top fantasy wide receiver in the desert.”
Zach Greubel (Gridiron Experts)

Thank you to the experts for sticking their opinions and thoughts out there (no matter how bold). Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter this season.

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