Need a fire take that could help you win your draft (or at least leave an impression)? Here’s a list of predictions so bold Andy Reid would qualify them as a suitable wet mop for his next pork butt.
*All of my bold predictions assume PPR scoring and are intended to live on the edge of plausibility.
1. Duke Johnson Will Be a Top-12 RB
The dynamic pass-catching running back finished his rookie season in 2015 as the PPR RB23. The addition of Hue Jackson’s proven, two-headed rushing attack, in concert with the Browns’ Vegas-implied, season-long, negative game script (more check-downs, please) add up to a breakout season in Cleveland. I actually began talking myself down the road to this bold prediction last spring.
Duke Johnson will be a top 15 PPR RB in 2016.— Curtis Patrick (@CPatrickNFL) May 1, 2016
Time is running out to invest in Johnson in dynasty formats before this bold prediction comes true.
2. Vance McDonald Will Outscore Coby Fleener
My favorite off-season tout flashed impressive open field mobility in the 49ers’ first preseason game.
McDonald will never look back, securing a feature role in a fast-paced offense which figures to be trailing often. Meanwhile, a more popular (and much more expensive) tight end darling of the fantasy world, Coby Fleener, will fail to match Ben Watson’s 2015 numbers in New Orleans due to the continued development of Brandin Cooks and the rapid ascension of Michael Thomas.
3. Le’Veon Bell Will Finish as a Top-12 RB Despite Only Playing 12 Games
DeAngelo Williams turns into a 33-year-old RB and fails to preserve a meaningful role following a mediocre four-game cameo. Bell returns from his suspension and fills the Heath Miller target void (Ladarius Green never gets right), translating to the best per-game fantasy scoring performance of his career.
4. The New England Patriots Will Prop Up Two Top 12 TEs
We all assume that Rob Gronkowski is going to be Gronk-spiking all over the place in 2016. But what about the black unicorn, Martellus Bennett? The Patriots didn’t seriously commit to improving at WR, where injuries, age, and general talent continue to be issues. Instead, they appear to have opted to turn back the clock to 2011, when Gronkowski and the infamous Aaron Hernandez both had serious standalone value. Bennett will haul in at least seven touchdowns en route to a TE12 overall finish.
5. Ezekiel Elliott Will Eclipse 350 Touches and 2000 Total Yards
Tony Romo and Dez Bryant both stay healthy all season, but the real star in Dallas is the rookie from THE Ohio State University. The Joneses make sure coach Jason Garrett understands the importance of showing off their new toy in order to justify his high draft pick status. By Week 12, Elliott retires his trademark “feed me” routine when he realizes he’s getting fed whether he’s hungry or not.
6. Mike Evans Will Lead All WRs in TDs
Despite posting more receptions and more yards in 2015 than in his rookie season, Evans’ lack of touchdown production in 2015 left a sour taste in the fantasy community’s collective mouth. The touchdown regression following his rookie season proves to be an outlier for the 6-foot-5-inch red zone dream. A more seasoned, confident version of Jameis Winston improves his efficiency and Evans takes the league by storm.
7. Andrew Luck Posts 700+ Passing Attempts, Supports 3 Top-36 WRs, and Finishes as the Overall QB1
The Colts running game somehow gets even worse when the ageless Frank Gore finally wears down. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski gives Neck Beard full control of the offense and the QB calls his own number over 700 times (just the second such season in NFL history). The absurd volume leads to T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett finishing as a WR1, WR2, and WR3.
Mehlvin Melvin Gordon Totally Redeems Himself
2015 was a forgettable first try for the much hyped RB. He was lapped by teammate Danny Woodhead, who hogged all the red zone work and most of the passing game work on his way to an improbable RB3 overall season. In 2016, Gordon flips the script and establishes himself as a bell cow RB (well, a 2016 bell cow). An improved deep passing attack, featuring newcomer Travis Benjamin, keeps the safeties out of the box all season, and Gordon hauls in enough receptions (he quietly caught 33 balls last season) to post a top 8 RB fantasy finish.
9. Ty Montgomery Supplants Davante Adams in Green Bay by Midseason
Montgomery looked the part in (very) limited time last season. Green Bay tires of Adams’ embarrassing inefficiency and plugs in TyMo at WR3. Montgomery returns the Packers’ WR3 role to relevancy, a la James Jones, and places himself on everyone’s fantasy flex radar by season’s end.
10. Christine Michael Will Ruin Everything
Christine Michael is back in Seattle and it’s not going to be pretty. In an ironic twist, Michael does see enough time to satisfy all his rabid truthers, but in doing so destroys the upside of the entire backfield. 2015 undrafted rookie star Thomas Rawls and 2016’s early hype-getter C.J. Prosise also carve out roles. The Seahawks run game is plenty healthy, but no one emerges with enough work to finish as a RB2, let alone feign a Beastmode impression.