Oh my good dear Fantasy Gods, we are a day away! By now, drafts are 90% completed, with perhaps a few lingering into tonight and even early tomorrow if you’re a psycho. Thus, this “Bold Fantasy Football Predictions” piece isn’t intended as “Draft Advice.”
Rather, it’s meant to illuminate the immense fantasy ceilings (and floors) that may be getting overlooked, while highlighting guys we are especially high or low on. It’s meant to collect all our wilder fantasy thoughts into one place, and see how we stack up as upside chasers and downside avoiders.
Obviously, by nature, “Bold Predictions” should NOT be considered “likely.” Still, the below predictions represent the craziest outcomes I think are the most likely to hit in 2017. I look into the crystal ball for all 32 teams, tossing in my “Top Calls” for everyone while adding “Runner Ups” and “Shocker Specials” as I felt necessary. As always, send your attacks or praise in the comments below, or hit me up @RotoStreetWolf right meow.
Bold Predictions for All 32 NFL Teams
Top Call: David Johnson surpasses 1,000 receiving yards and approaches 1,500 rushing to go alongside 20 TDs. Any fantasy team with a competent core around him will be in title-contention, ala 2003 LaDanian Tomlison
Runner Up: With a healthy John Brown streaking down the field, Bruce Arians’ aerial bonanza regains its swag. Carson Palmer is one of 2017s top matchup plays, posting top-12 QB numbers in over half his weeks. Larry Fitzgerald rides into the sunset with one of his best season’s to date.
Top Call: All this regression talk is hogwash and the offense remains towards the top of the league under Steve Sarkisian. Thus, Matt Ryan remains a bonafide top-4 option, and everyone calling for “a return to the mean” is proven to be stuck in the past.
Shocker Special: With a honed in rapport in Year 2, Taylor Gabriel emerges as a flex play you hate going against. This is especially the case when Julio Jones misses a serious late season chunk.
Top Call: With injuries to Kenneth Dixon and eventually Danny Woodhead, Terrance West becomes a volume machine. The talent is unexciting and the production will be unflashy, but West is ultimately a reliable RB2 floor play all season, and handsomely rewards owners who side with him over Frank Gore.
Top Call: LeSean McCoy receives workloads on the level of David Johnson and Leveon Bell, and Shady becomes a cheatcode that nearly rivals those two backs. Unfortunately, this early-season blessing becomes a late season curse, as Shady breaks down from the massive volume and misses 6+ contests when owners need him most.
Runner Up: Zay Jones becomes a target monster as Rich Dennison‘s “X Receiver”, given the new offensive coordinator’s “Shanahan Roots.” Zay rides this fantastic role into an easy 1,000 yards and is a fixture in starting lineups by Week 4.
Top Call: Christian McCaffrey receives ~15 weekly touches, and has the talent to produce RB1 totals consistently on this workload. Even better, Jonathan Stewart has his annual injury, and McCaffrey seizes the workhorse role to become a weekly top-five play.
Runner Up: After a horridly fat start to the offseason, Kelvin Benjamin rebounds tremendously and rewards owners who were flexible enough to change their minds with a massive 1,300 yard, 12 TD season.
Top Call: In an awful offense, Jordan Howard proves to be 2017’s Todd Gurley and absolutely burns owners who spend a first or early second on him. Tarik Cohen does indeed steal 8-12 touches per game, including a monopoly on receiving work, which further saps Howard, who scores under 7 TDs and is swallowed up by stacked boxes all season.
Shocker Special: Kendall Wright greatly benefits from his past familiarity with OC Dowell Loggains (134 targets, 94 catches and 1079 yards in 2013 with him), and emerges as a target monster here. He tops 80 catches and 900 yards yet again.
Top Call: Though the talent is undeniable, Joe Mixon is ultimately trapped in a three headed nightmare behind a bottom-barrel line. Consequently, the rookie finishes outside the top-25 RBs, and doesn’t experience his true breakout until 2018 when Jeremy Hill (who plods his way into 10+ TDs in 2017) is removed.
Top Call: Duke Johnson benefits greatly from an early season Isaiah Crowell injury, ultimately finishing as a top-15 back behind this vastly upgraded line. This makes him a season-changer in Round 10.
Top Call: Thanks to a drawn-out legal process Ezekiel Elliott plays all 16 games, and finishes as the RB2 after doubling his reception totals in Lance Dunbar’s absence.
Top Call: CJ Anderson finishes outside the top-25 RBs thanks to his committee situation in an ineffective run-scheme, combined with another injury-riddled season. Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles flirts with top-25 PPR value thanks to his role as Mike McCoy‘s new “Danny Woodhead” (76 and 80 reception seasons), in addition to some spot-starts for the injured Anderson.
Top Call: The ever undervalued Theo Riddick outscores Ameer Abdullah, as Riddick garners more red zone passing game action matched up on linebackers, while Abdullah takes a backseat to Zach Zenner.
Runner Up: After working out with Randy Moss all offseason, Marvin Jones is reborn and able to consistently maintain WR2 numbers all season.
Green Bay Packers
Top Call: After an offseason of training his mind and body for the running back position, Ty Montgomery absolutely feasts on the ground and through the air. He approaches 1,500 total yards and 10 total TDs, and is a bonafide RB1 all season long.
Top Call: Lamar Miller is again highly inefficient, and ultimately cedes his starting role to the far more impressive D’Onta Foreman once he has his rookie legs fully underneath him. Foreman becomes a stretch-run difference maker as the starter, and is one of 2017’s Waiver Wire Heroes.
Top Call: Owners who wait patiently on Donte Moncrief are handsomely rewarded for his massively discounted price. He puts together far more consistent yardage outputs while maintaining his insane scoring ability, which leads to highly usable WR2 numbers all season once Andrew Luck returns.
Runner Up: Prediciting a “down year” for a 34-year old running back doesn’t feel bold, but Frank Gore has been an ageless wonder. Unfortunately, this is the season he succumbs to Father Time, making Robert Turbin (or perhaps the newly-acquired Matt Jones) immensely fantasy relevant as a serviceable RB2 all season.
Top Call: This team is rendered borderline useless in fantasy thanks to Blake Bortles ineptitude. Allen Robinson‘s bounce back remains delayed until a change of scenery, and he finishes well-outside the top-24 wideouts. Meanwhile, Leonard Fournette‘s dicey foot situation hampers him all season, as does Chris Ivory vulturing TDs and TJ Yeldon stealing receptions. Ultimately, Fournette’s little more than a between-the-20s horse and burns owners who pass on other rookies for him.
Kansas City Chiefs
Top Call: Like Brian Westbrook and Jamaal Charles before him, Kareem Hunt proves an ideal fit for Andy Reid‘s West Coast scheme and produces a massive RB1 campaign. He tops 60 catches and finishes as a top-five option in PPR leagues.
Runner Up: I can’t just leave Tyreek Hill off this list after pumping his fire all season! Hill’s game is indeed refined after an offseason of route-crisping. Now as a full-time player, Hill does not regress, and instead rides a massive volume increase into a shoe-in top-15 campaign, ripping short slants for 80 yard TDs throughout the season.
Los Angeles Chargers
Top Call: After a litany of freakish injuries, Keenan Allen finally stays on the field for over 14 games, and ends the season as a clear top-7 wideout thanks to tallying 8+ catches in 13 of 16 games, including three games with over 12 receptions.
Shocker Special: Brendan Oliver benefits from an early season Melvin Gordon injury to yield RB2 numbers all season in this dream set up.
Los Angeles Rams
Top Call: Unshackled from Jeff Fisher‘s hell-hole, Todd Gurley thrives under new coordinator Sean McVay, especially in the receiving game. Gurley tops 65 catches, and approaches Le’Veon Bell outputs on 30+ creative touches a week.
Shocker Special: Rookie WR Cooper Kupp outscores Sammy Watkins and paces this team in receptions and yardage.
Top Call: With Jay Cutler slinging him the rock, DeVante Parker vastly outscores Jarvis Landry and proves to be a WR1 all season. The offseason “puff” pieces on improved habits prove to be very real.
Runner Up: Jay Ajayi easily outscores Melvin Gordon, and even LeSean McCoy (due to injury), as the added receiving work brings the J-Train close to “Cheat Code” status.
Shocker Special: Reunited with Adam Gase (24 TDs in 27 career games), Julius Thomas hauls in 11+ TDs and finishes 2017 within the top-10 of fantasy tight ends.
Top Call: Utilized as a rare three-down horse, Dalvin Cook is a steady RB1 all season. He totals over 1,700 total yards, while notching 60+ receptions and 10 total TDs.
Runner Up: Adam Thielin’s move into the slot prove enormous, and he hauls in over 95 catches, while putting an enormous dent into Stefon Diggs‘ value.
New England Patriots
Top Call: Even with his top security blanket done for the season, Tom Brady absolutely feasts for 4800 yards and 45+ TDs while finishing as the clear QB1 in fantasy and leading the charge to his 6th Super Bowl win. Brandin Cooks dominates after the catch in Julian Edelman‘s absence, ultimately topping 1,500 receiving yards and finishing as a top-five fantasy WR.
Runner Up: The running back situation proves to be a major fantasy win, as James White tallies 65+ receptions as Brady’s most trusted third-down target, while Mike Gillislee falls into 15 TDs as the new LeGarrette Blount.
New Orleans Saints
Top Call: With Willie Snead out of the lineup to begin 2017, Ted Ginn explodes early on and never looks back. He proves to be far more than a deep threat, and is ultimately used very similarly to Brandin Cooks en route to over 1,000 yards
Runner Up: Ever motivated and fueled for revenge, Adrian Peterson feasts against Minnesota in Week One for over 150 yards and 2 TDs, thus cementing early down carries and rendering Mark Ingram into a flex-afterthought. All-Day finishes with over 15 TDs, and impresses as a WR with over 30 catches as well.
New York Jets
Top Call: With his team constantly trailing and no quarterback who can push the ball down the field, Bilal Powell becomes a PPR God. He approaches 75 catches and nearly 1,000 receiving yards as the Jets top (re: only) offensive weapon, and is a bonafide RB1 in reception leagues.
Runner Up: Following his two-game suspension, Austin Seferian Jenkins reemerges as an immediate TE1. Josh McCown feeds him ala Gary Barnidge in 2015, leading to ASJ maximizing his immense physical gifts and some massive TD output.
Top Call: The dog does officially come out, and Amari Cooper finally delivers the season we’ve all envisioned, joining the elite tier of WR1s while becoming a bonafide first rounder in 2018 drafts.
Runner Up: Cordarelle Patterson actually becomes a thing here. Though inconsistent and tough to project, Patterson becomes a bye-week flex fill-in that swings owners weeks when he hits, totaling 8+ TDs and close to 800 combined yards.
Top Call: With Jordan Matthews removed, Zach Ertz absolutely dominates targets over the middle, ultimately pacing the position in looks and receptions. He tops Jimmy Graham and even Greg Olsen in fantasy scoring, and goes down as an 8th round season-maker.
Top Call: With his added 20 pounds of muscle and clean mind, Martavis Bryant not only starts where he left off, but builds even further. He is a shoe-in for 1,100 yards and 12+ TDs, easily finishing as a top-10 WR.
Runner Up: Le’Veon Bell‘s missed practice time proves costly, as he suffers an early-season soft-tissue injury that hampers him for much of the season. Owners who take him over David Johnson look completely foolish.
San Francisco 49ers
Top Call: Carlos Hyde continues looking horrible and slow in this system, and cedes the starting gig by midseason. UDFA Matt Brieda makes a 5-6 quality RB2 starts in the aftermath.
Shocker Special: As Kyle Shanahan‘s new Taylor Gabriel, speedster Marquise Goodwin becomes a highly viable flex play during bye weeks. He hauls in nearly 850 yards and 8 TDs on the season.
Top Call: Eddie Lacy gets shredded!! No, can’t get that bold. Rather, Thomas Rawls absolutely feasts and runs away with this gig, performing as a top-15 RB all season while topping 100+ yards in over half of his contests.
Shocker Special: Paul Richardson finally maintains health, and emerges as a weekly WR3 option as the No.2 target here..
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Top Call: Anyone paying any attention to Roto Street knows this: Mike Evans puts on a season for the ages, outscoring Julio Jones and Odell Beckham by a fair margin. Hell, he even takes the receiving yardage title from Antonio Brown.
Runner Up: Doug Martin performs like a bonafide RB1 upon his return, and is a genuine top-10 weekly option from Week 5 onwards.
Top Call: After flying completely under the fantasy radar everywhere (but here), Eric Decker finishes 2017 as a top-15 fantasy WR and a title-bringing value pick with his 8th + round price tag. The reports of he and Mariota being completely in sync prove completely true, and Decker hauls in 13 TDs — his own red one mavens and Mariota’s historic efficiency near the stripe is indeed the perfect marriage.
Top Call: While everyone was focused on how this aerial pie would be divided, Rob Kelley emerges as one of the most reliable fantasy pieces of this offense. His slimmed-down form allow Kelley to fully capitalize on this juicy situation. Behind a top-7 line and on an offense frequently visiting the end zone, Kelley tops 1,000 yards and 10 TD, and is 2017s version of Isaiah Crowell.
Runner Up: Though Terrelle Pryor isn’t horrendous and does produce some monster weeks, he is ultimately utilized inconsistently. Owners who look his way over Martavis Bryant and Tyreek Hill sorely regret it.
This wraps up The Wolf’s preseason predictions. Where is he dead on? Which ones are insane? Sound off below or @RotoStreetWolf. Plus, be sure to track us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the best in-season coverage around!