Making bold predictions is always a fun exercise. They aren’t meant to be taken too seriously, but do provide a way to highlight some potential undervalued/interesting fantasy assets for the upcoming season. Without further ado, here are my ten bold fantasy football predictions (all predictions assume PPR league):
QB Andy Dalton finishes as a top six QB- It seems like Dalton is perennially overlooked, and I’ve never understood why. This is a quarterback that finished as QB12 last year (while missing AJ Green and Eifert for big chunks of time), QB18 in 2015 (despite playing in just 13 games, would have been QB7 if he played 16), and QB18 in 2014, and QB4 in 2013. All told Dalton’s history suggests he’s an average second QB as an absolute worst case, and a capable starting QB as a best case. That makes him a fringe QB1/ excellent backup QB or SuperFlex target given his low Average Auction Value (17th at QB), as his average salary prices him at his floor without any of his upside. This prediction assumes AJ Green and Eifert are healthy all year, and the additions of Joe Mixon and John Ross give another boost to the Bengals offense.
QB Mitch Trubisky finishes as a top 15 QB (based on PPG)- The caveat here is that Trubisky is currently not the starter in Chicago, but I expect him to take over as the Bears starting QB within the first month or so. Trubisky was the 2nd overall draft pick in the NFL draft this year, but for some reason has a lower AAV than fellow rookie QBs Mahomes, Watson, and Kizer. I like Trubisky much more than those three (especially Watson, who I think ends up a bust), despite his limited college experience. I’ll go far as to say I believe Trubisky could put up a rookie year that looks a lot like Andrew Luck’s first season (QB10 in 2012), minus a couple rushing TDs.
RB Christian McCaffrey does it all for the Panthers and finishes as a top 6 RB- NFL running backs come into the league effectively already at their peak, so rookie ball carriers make excellent high variance picks in fantasy football. I typically prefer to target cheaper rookie backs (and I like to collect them in bunches), but I believe McCaffrey’s talent (especially as a receiver) makes him worth spending significant auction/trade capital on. The situation in Carolina is less than ideal, given that Newton hasn’t thrown much to his RB historically, but I suspect that has had more to do with a lack of options than it does anything else. McCaffrey has just 30 year old Jonathan Stewart standing in his way for a bellcow role with the Panthers, and I don’t think Stewart will keep McCaffrey off the field.
RB Samaje Perine quickly becomes the starter in Washington as finishes as a top 24 RB- Yes, another rookie, in this case a fourth round bulldozer (236 lbs) who starts the year behind '16 un drafted free agent Rob Kelley. Kelley was capable last year, but I believe Perine is the much more talented back. Perine likely won’t make much of an impact as a receiver (and Chris Thompson is entrenched as the third down back), but Washington should run the ball more frequently this year and Perine should see plenty of goal line opportunities at the very least.
RB Tarik Cohen validates the Darren Sproles comps and finishes as a top 40 RB- Cohen is short (5’6"), but he was also a highly productive workhorse at North Carolina A&T and offers NFL quality speed and above average agility. You may recognize Cohen from his various YouTube viral videos where he catches passes while doing a backflip (try that in the NFL for a one way ticket to the hospital!), but Cohen’s draft capital (fourth round selection) and preseason performance carrying the ball suggest he’s not just a one trick pony. He won’t be a feature back given his size and the presence of Jordan Howard, but he should carve out a significant role with the Bears and is essentially free right now ($3 AAV, but only owned in 41% of leagues).
WR Corey Coleman breaks out in a big way and finishes as a top 20 WR- Coleman showed flashes last year as a rookie for the Browns, but ultimately it was a disappointing and injury marred season for the 15th overall pick from '16. Don’t let that WR83 finish last year cause you to overlook Coleman, as I believe he’ll take a massive step forward this year, especially given the lack of other WR options in Cleveland (Kenny Britt and… /shrug). Michael Thomas was the breakout rookie WR to own last year, but Coleman should prove that he’s just as good this season.
WR Tyrell Williams proves last year was no fluke and finishes as a top 20 WR- This might not even really count as a bold prediction, as Williams finished as the WR19 last year, but he now has to contend with a healthy (probably?) Keenan Allen and a high first round draft pick in Mike Williams. That competition has moved Williams down the WR board for many fantasy football owners, but I think Williams has a very real chance of putting up the best season of any Chargers WR, and even if Allen edges him out I think there’s room for two top 20 WR in
San Diego Los Angeles.
WR Taywan Taylor emerges as one of the best WR in this rookie class and finishes as a top 60 WR- Taylor was the eight WR chosen in the most recent draft (3rd round), but I think he’s a better bet to be one the top two or three rookie WR this year. Corey Davis, John Ross, and Mike Williams are all already battling injuries, and Curtis Samuel/Juju Smith/Cooper Kupp are buried on the depth chart. Of course, Taylor is a bit buried himself behind Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, and fellow rookie Corey Davis, but he’s paired with an excellent young QB in Marcus Mariota and might see the field more often than Davis in the short term. Until Davis is 100%, Taylor is probably the best deep threat on the Titans.
TE CJ Fiedorowicz puts up a top 12 TE season- Fiedorowicz just recently received a three year extension from the Texans, and was very quietly the 17th best TE last season. Tight ends often take a few years to experience their breakout, and Fiedor is a prime candidate as he enters his fourth season in the NFL as a soon to be 26 year old. There may not be a ton of upside here, but Fiedorowicz has been pretty cheap in auctions ($3.6 AAV) and can help you as an excellent backup TE or as part of a low cost TE duo.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins finally lives up to the hype and finishes as a top 12 TE- Yes, I know he’s suspended for the first two games of the season, but like Fiedorowicz he’s a fourth year TE who should be entering his prime, and was a higher draft pick in 2014. There’s plenty of risk that ASJ just never pans out, but he’s a very athletic TE that could be one of the top receiving options on a terrible Jets offense. That may be damning with faint praise, but if you’re looking for upside with your second TE it might be hard to do better than ASJ, especially given his $1.5 AAV.