It’s time for another season of bad bets based in good process, better known as Bold Predictions.
In this series, we’ll look at weekly matchups, using history as a contextual backdrop – as well as in-season trends – in order to unearth unexpected events that have a chance at coming true.
A quick recap of Week 3.
- Michael Thomas broke the record for most receptions through any player’s first three games but fell seven targets short of breaking the target record. Antonio Brown needed 13 to break the record; he had nine.
- Christian McCaffrey and Chris Thompson needed seven and eight catches respectively to pass Reggie Bush’s record of 26 catches through three games. After breaking the RB reception record through two games, McCaffrey somehow only had two on Sunday, while game script was never working in Thompson’s favor.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick could have easily thrown five TDs and hit our prediction of another four, but he had one long TD bomb to Chris Godwin called back by a penalty, and Godwin dropped another easy TD.
Unlike Week 2, we were at least on the right track, but it was just one of those weeks. We’re 0-9 on the season, but just one hit puts us back on track.
On to Week 4 and before we get to the Julio Jones and the impossible, we check in with another rookie WR about to break out.
Antonio Callaway is a WR1
Granted, it was in a game in which they were trailing, but Callaway’s usage spiked in Week 3 once Baker Mayfield took over. This year’s fourth-round pick led all wide receivers in Air Yards in Week 3, while his 50 percent market share of Air Yards was tied for first with Devin Funchess.
|Tar||Rec||Rec Yards||Air Yards||YAC||aDOT||RACR||MS Air||Target Share||WOPR||PPR Pts|
The glaring figure, besides the towering Air Yards, is the poor RACR. If similar opportunity meets increased efficiency, Callaway could be in for a monster week with his new QB, who was more than willing to take deep downfield shots to Callaway.
The Browns face the Raiders, who have given up the fourth-most yards and fantasy points to opposing WRs on the season. Callaway has the opportunity, and now the QB, to have his Calvin Ridley moment this weekend.
Julio Jones Finally Finds the End Zone
Not bold enough for you? Consider that Jones has scored a TD in just two of his past 19 games (10.5 percent of the time), and four in his last 27 (14.8 percent). That range is precisely the likelihood of the predictions we’re trying to hit.
Last week, the rookie Ridley ate Julio’s lunch while also mowing his lawn, scoring as many TDs in one game as Jones has since the end of the 2016 season.
This week, Jones at last finds the promised land after a brutal drought. But it won’t be easy, as the Bengals have given up just three scores to opposing WRs, tied for 11th best in the league.
Being at home doesn’t help any; Jones actually actually scores 25 percent fewer TDs in Atlanta.
So what does he have going in his favor? Well, regression, mainy — the impossibility that this slump can continue forever. Over the past three seasons, the average TD rate for WRs is 4.6 percent; last year, Jones’ TD rate was two percent, and this year it’s zero.
That can’t last. Right?
Phillip Lindsay Outscores Kareem Hunt on MNF
Hunt, the workhorse back on the league’s best offense, will score fewer fantasy points than Lindsay, the UDFA in a time share on the league’s 19th-highest-scoring team.
The GLSP thinks I’m crazy, giving Hunt an average projection of 20 points, while Lindsay has just half that.
Those scores are a little surprising considering the Chiefs have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to RBs through three games.
Denver isn’t exactly stout against running backs with the 19th-most points surrendered, but the Broncos have been better when it comes to limiting the damage to RBs.
As the RB20 on the year, that’s what teams have been able to do against Hunt so far. And the difference between this year and last is clear as day.
The receiving yards just haven’t been there so far, and he’ll have a chance to correct that against a team that’s given up the 12th-most receptions to RBs. But Lindsay’s matchup, on paper, is juicier. Everyone likes to target pass-catching backs against the Falcons, but it’s K.C. that has given up the most RB receiving yards — 35 percent more than Atlanta.
In a game where Denver is a five-point underdog, Lindsay will have a chance to score a rare upset over the GLSP and put us on the board.