Every site does it. Hot Takes. Bold Predictions. The chance for fantasy writers to take long shot projections about the coming football season in the hopes they hit one or two out of ten. Often, the predictions are based on “feeling.” As I’ve mentioned before, deep sleepers are hard to project, and most bold predictions are a combination of deep (sometimes very deep) sleepers and high profile busts. I’m going to play along and give my 10 Bold Predictions for 2016. Somewhere I read that one should be aiming for 20% chance (thus deeming it bold enough) to happen, so I’m going to try and stick around that percentage. Maybe I’ll nail one or two and you’ll definitely forget my misses.
So now, in no particular order, I give you my bold predictions:
1. Charles Sims is a top 12 RB in PPR leagues
What do you know about Charles Sims besides that hes behind Doug Martin on the depth chart? Where do you think he finished last year in PPR leagues? It might surprise you but he finished RB17. For this projection to hit, I don’t necessarily need Doug Martin to get hurt, although that would certainly help. Besides the positive training camp news, Sims already looked good last year. He averaged 4.9 YPC (the same as Martin) and could see an uptick in redzone looks given Martin wasnt that efficient last year. For this to come true Martin probably has to get hurt, but it wouldnt be bold otherwise.
2. Arian Foster plays every game this season
Sports injury predictor has Foster as a medium risk (41%) chance of injury this season so I’m definitely betting the long shot here. Why do I think this is possible? I think that the Dolphins will manage his carries much better than the Texans did. Foster in his entire career with the Texans averaged 19.1 carries per game, and in all but his rookie season (which he only started one game) he never had a single season averaging less than 15 carries per game. Meanwhile, the man who swapped teams (but not by trade) with Foster, Lamar Miller, never saw more than 13.5 rushing attempts per game in Miami. We are talking about Foster moving from an offense who was 6th in the league in rushing attempts to the team that was dead last. Miami averaged just 21.5 rushes per game last year. I think they know what they have in Foster and will manage his workload by spelling him with Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, and at some point Kenyan Drake.
3. Adrian Peterson finishes outside the top 10 RB in all scoring formats
It’s not incredibly bold to project a guy with 2,500 career carries who turned 31 to have a down season. But AP has consistently proved everyone wrong. He beat predictions in 2012 coming off a torn ACL to rush for 2000 yards. He beat predictions of rust last year finishing RB2 after missing essentially all of 2014 for beating his child. Well the beatings are OVER. He fades this year, be it injury, or wear and tear, or a stacked box on every first and second down.
4. Carson Palmer finishes outside the top 15 QBs
This one comes down to health mostly, of both Palmer and his WR core.
5. Brandin Cooks finishes as the overall WR1
Look I know this is arguably THE long shot of them all (well besides Arian Foster not getting hurt). I don’t even have enough target evidence to back it up. This prediction is heavily reliant on Coby Fleener being a bad football player. Last year Cooks saw just 129 targets. To hit the number one WR he would probably need much closer to 200. Ben Watson and Marques Colston leave 176 targets on the table. Yea thats as far as I can get without lying to myself. This prediction wont happen, but if Fleener is bad and only Cooks and Snead prove reliable to Drew Brees (who we know is great), then maybe just maybe this can happen.
6. LeGarrette Blount finishes in the top 10 RB in standard scoring
Last year was an outlier for Bill Belichick‘s New England Patriots. They finished 3rd in the league in passing play percentage. Before 2015, the Patriots under Belichick had never even been in the top 10. Even in 2007 when Tom Brady had 50 TD passes, they were 14th in the league (57.87%). I think BB changes it up by going back to the norm and rushing the ball more. I think the injury to Dion Lewis helps this theory, and we see a Patriot RB finish in the top 10 for just the 2nd time Since 2004 (Corey Dillon).
7. Robert Griffin III is a top 12 QB
I’m not sold RGIII is done. It’s a bad team that will likely be playing from behind that has more passing weapons and a better deep ball thrower than they have had in recent memory. Terrelle Pryor might just be a red zone threat at 6’4″, Corey Coleman has talent, and Josh Gordon could return to form. I haven’t even mentioned pass catching back Duke Johnson, or Gary Barnidge, or the added bonus of potential rushing yards and TDs from RGIII on the ground. I’m not saying this team will be good. But I think if RGIII can stay healthy all year he might be able to be fantasy relevant again.
8. Vance McDonald is a top 10 TE
This projection relies heavily on Blaine Gabbert starting all season. In the 7 games Vance McDonald has played with Gabbert, he has averaged 9.87 PPG in PPR leagues which puts him at a 16 game pace of 158 points. That would have made him the TE12 last season. Add in a Chip Kelley offense with an uptick in plays, and you can see how I think this is one of my more realistic bold predictions.
9. “Cowboys QB” finishes in the top 12 QB (combined scoring)
Ok I know this one has a lot of stipulations, but this mostly hinges on the Cowboys strength of schedule and Dak Prescott being good at football. This wouldn’t have been so bold a few weeks ago if it were just Tony Romo (although arguing him to be healthy all season is bold in itself). I think its bold because we expect the Cowboys to run the ball, manage the clock, and keep their defense off the field. I think there will be enough opportunities in the passing game to put up some good numbers if teams try and stack the box against Ezekiel Elliot. Also I am a cowboys fan and would love for this one to come true.
10. Colin Kaepernick stands for the national anthem, as the starter, in a playoff game
OK, I made sure not to include the team he plays for in this prediction. Vegas has the 49ers as the 2nd worst team in the league (behind the Browns duh). I specifically left them out because maybe Kaep gets released or traded and carries Minnesota (or another team) to the playoffs. I also imagine his message will have gotten across enough by then that he will be standing throughout the national anthem.
Well there you have it. My 10 bold predictions for this coming NFL season. Leave a comment below, find me on twitter, or email fantasy questions to firstname.lastname@example.org