When we turn the calendar to August, it’s time to take all the off-season chatter and the podcast banter towards finalizing our opinions on the players we feel deep in our gut. Every year I set out to make a number of bold calls that stir the pot, confirm what I see on film, and ultimately make my co-hosts look utterly shameful.
Check out some of 2017’s shamelessly bold predictions that ended up being incredibly true:
- JuJu Smith-Schuster will carve out an important role and impress in year one.
- The 2018 starting Broncos RB is not on this roster
- Dez Bryant won’t fulfill your hopes and dreams for him.
- Carson Wentz will be surprisingly great, even for fantasy players
- Alex Smith and Spencer Ware lose their jobs
- Cam Newton yo-yo’s back into 2015 form and doesn’t stop running
- Todd Gurley will rid himself of his 2016 demons.
That last one wasn’t just an exorcism of sorts but a league winner for owners that had the confidence to trust in Gurley’s talent over one down year. Let’s turn the page to 2018 and boldly and shamelessly go where no other Baller dares to go.
Miami Dolphins: This will be the worst offense in football with ZERO fantasy starters
This offense has basically stalled out the last few seasons and the return of Ryan Tannehill won’t change things. At the end of the year, I think you’ll be disappointed with owning Dolphins as the RBs & WRs end outside the top 24 and QB & TE outside the top 12.
New York Jets: New York has a surprising season with Sam Darnold climbing into stream worthy consideration
They’ll finish 2nd in the AFC East ahead of Buffalo and Miami. These Jets have an emerging secondary that should help keep things close. Darnold has all the tools to be a streamer in Year One and follow the career trajectory of Carson Wentz. Put him down for 5 weeks as a QB1, more than what Drew Brees had last year.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen will be better than everyone thinks
I’ve been preaching a wait-and-see approach to the rookie QB as we’ve mostly heard the negatives since he was drafted 7th overall. Allen’s athleticism and willingness to throw downfield will allow him to post some surprising fantasy performances alongside some rookie mistakes.
New England Patriots: Phillip Dorsett will be the #1 fantasy WR in New England through the first 4 weeks
With Julian Edelman out, it will be Dorsett and not Chris Hogan who will have fantasy owners rushing to their waiver wire faster than you can say, Brandon Lloyd. Dorsett is still a freak athlete and has the opportunity to be a fantasy revelation early on. Tom Brady knows how to best utilize the tools he’s been given so don’t be surprised when this speed merchant is New England’s fantasy WR1 over the first month.
Baltimore Ravens: Michael Crabtree sucks… as in outside the top-40 suckage.
As resident fantasy reaper, I can see the writing on the wall when a career is over. Crabtree is trending in the wrong direction in many metrics and will have Joe Flacco throwing him the ball to start the season. We’re going to see him move from a possession specialist into a slow-footed, geriatric non-factor.
Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green has another top-5 season in him.
Green quietly put up another WR1 season and yet it feels like the fantasy community is ready to move on to the next big thing. Mark it down: A.J. Green is a top-5 guy and a surefire 2nd round steal that will more than return his draft day cost.
Pittsburgh Steelers: JuJu will disappoint fantasy owners
The star that Jason has had his eyes set on all off-season will not burn so bright. Juju’s efficiency in 2017 (8 TDs on 58 catches) simply isn’t repeatable and I think James Washington will have a bigger dent in his production than most think.
Cleveland Browns: Tyrod Taylor will play the entire season & finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback.
I’ve said this on the show repeatedly but I believe Tyrod Taylor is a good NFL QB and has the opportunity to change the culture of losing in Cleveland. If he stays healthy, there should be no reason to rush Baker Mayfield as Taylor can be a viable weekly fantasy starter with the added bonus of his work rushing the ball.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Keelan Cole will re-emerge despite the muddy WR core
Among the WRs in Jacksonville, the UDFA Cole somehow is being left for dead despite outperforming all his counterparts last year. He showed unbelievable chemistry with Blake Bortles down the stretch including averaging 20.3 fantasy points per contest in PPR from Weeks 13-16. He was a WR1 then and should resurface as a legitimate fantasy option.
Houston Texans: Alfred Blue could accidentally emerge as a fantasy value
The tread on Lamar Miller‘s tires are basically worn down and its currently looking like D’Onta Foreman won’t be ready for the season. Blue won’t die out as a fantasy relevant name as he’s stuck around the Texans organization despite all the change. He will be startable at some point.
Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Grant is worth a waiver-wire investment & finish in the top 36
With Andrew Luck returning, there will be some value in the Indianapolis passing game. Grant is going undrafted everywhere and has been more famous this off-season for the Ravens’ contract blunders than his actual football skills. This guy is a solid route-runner and showed in the red zone last year with 4 TDs. He will be a popular waiver wire add in the first couple of weeks.
Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry will be woefully inefficient
Moving from ‘exotic smashmouth’ to one with more RPOs won’t help Derrick Henry alleviate his yards per carry struggles. He might still get 18+ carries a game despite Dion Lewis coming to town. However, you might not like your fantasy week when those carries end with 38 yards and a spot on our “Pooped in His Big Boy Pants” segment.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sammy Watkins will be better than Tyreek Hill
Follow the money and follow the talent. Watkins has shown well with Pat Mahomes during training camp and his draft pedigree will finally catch up to his on-field performance. Tyreek the Freak’s insane distance TDs are not going to happen again as Sammy takes over as the alpha in this offense.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams will surprise all season long & score 10 times
At 6’4”, 220 pounds, why would Philip Rivers not target Williams in the red zone? He seems banished from fantasy players’ minds but this was a top-10 draft choice just a year ago. He will become the clear WR2 next to Keenan Allen and owners will be wishing they grabbed him late.
Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr will matter again
Carr seems to be another player that fantasy owners seem to have completely turned their back on. Just a year ago he was a surefire top-12 QB with a hype train behind his MVP candidacy. He will matter in fantasy with an easy schedule as the Raiders face only 3 teams with winning record from 2017. When it comes to streaming QBs, don’t be surprised if you hear us “send in the Carr” many times this year.
Denver Broncos: Royce Freeman will grab a stranglehold of the lead back job & finish in the top-15
Last year I said that the starting RB on the Broncos wasn’t on the roster. That guy I was talking about is Royce Freeman. He will easily outplay Devontae Booker and showcase the all-around skill set the front office drafted him for. Count him for 1,000+ yards from scrimmage and a ticket towards being in the RB1 conversation heading into 2019.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor will lead the WRs in fantasy points
Agholor will be seen by many as just a “flash in the pan” and a one-year wonder after disappointing to start his career. His move into the slot is just what this offense needed to excel. Alshon Jeffrey and newly acquired Mike Wallace can keep defenses honest on the outside as Agholor continues to murder opposing secondaries on the slant route. His TD totals weren’t a fluke.
Dallas Cowboys: Terrance Williams will be the best fantasy WR on the team
For some reason, the Dallas front office decided to keep Williams while moving on from Dez Bryant, much to the chagrin of our resident Cowboys fan Brooks. There’s a 219-target void in this offense with Jason Witten also gone so we’re looking at the most volume of Williams’ career.
Washington Redskins: Jamison Crowder will be the top fantasy WR in WAS by a wide margin
While teammates Paul Richardson gained the contract and Josh Doctson somehow still gains his supporters, Jamison Crowder is PPR gold and the Washington pass catcher you want at draft day. He has some of the most consistent hands in the league and will be Alex Smith‘s go-to possession receiver. He is a prime candidate to see 120+ targets and destroy his current ADP.
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley will catch 80 balls
Saquon will join Reggie Bush, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey as the only RBs to see this type of involvement in the passing game as a rookie. He will showcase his generational talent from Day 1 and begin the argument for being the 1.01 in next year’s fantasy drafts.
Minnesota Vikings: Latavius Murray will score 8 times
Dalvin Cook owners beware. Murray is still a goal-line beast as evidenced by last year’s 8 TDs and won’t go away despite the team’s preference of Cook. He could be the Michael Turner to LaDainian Tomlinson and vulture more TDs than anyone expected.
Green Bay Packers: Jimmy Graham will be annoyingly relevant & score in all but 4 games
Graham was one of only 3 players with double-digit TDs in 2017 and will do the same in 2018. Toss aside any of this “Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw to the TE” nonsense and plug Graham in as a surefire top 5 option. Say what you may about his aging body but try boxing out this guy in the end zone.
Detroit Lions: Marvin Jones will regress enough to make you regret drafting him.
Your memory might be foggy if you only recall Marv’s 2017 season littered with long jump-ball TDs from Matthew Stafford. He was insanely efficient with 9 TDs on only 61 catches. 94% of WR1s over the last 10 years have needed at least 110 targets to finish in the top-12 while Jones only had 107. With Kenny Golladay back in the mix, consider Marvin Jones as a weekly drag on your fantasy roster.
Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller will rise to fantasy relevance & a WR3+ finish
Miller has impressed during training camp and has the college production and route-running to be a fantasy factor from the get-go. Taylor Gabriel and the ghost of Kevin White will be non-existent as Miller establishes himself as a top-36 option in his rookie year.
New Orleans Saints: Cam Meredith will be a reliable WR2 & hurt Michael Thomas‘ ceiling
Meredith is going to be one of this year’s biggest values in drafts as he resurrects his fantasy career on one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Last year, I called for 1100+ yards before his ACL injury. He looks to be recovered and will make the Michael Thomas owner wish Drew Brees would look his way even more. It’s his consistency that will be most valued by fantasy owners.
Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore will lead the team in receiving yards
It will be the rookie and not Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess or Christian McCaffrey who sets the tone for this receiving game. He will develop a connection with Cam Newton early on and finish the year close to 900 yards.
Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones will score 12 touchdowns
This is the year Julio haters shut up. OC Steve Sarkisian will find a way to give Julio red zone targets that matter and Matt Ryan will find him. This offense is due for major positive regression and this time Jones is the one who benefits. He could finish the year as THE WR1.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay wins just 3 games & the future of James Winston becomes cloudy
Things could get even uglier although Vegas currently has the Bucs at 7.5 wins. The 3-game suspension for Winston will be just the tip of the iceberg as these Bucs find themselves in arguably the most competitive division in football. Their first winnable game won’t be until Week 7 against Cleveland as Winston could end the year in the doghouse with a new coaching staff on the horizon.
Los Angeles Rams: Brandin Cooks will dominate
Cooks is now on his 3rd team in as many years and I think fantasy owners assume this guy has a defect on the field. Sean McVay traded for and paid this guy so he will know how to use him. He has definite WR1 upside and will be given every opportunity to make plays in open space. This won’t be the up-and-down Cooks we’ve known in the past. Write this down: Brandin Cooks will go for 1,200 yards, 8 TDs and you won’t regret drafting him at his deflated cost.
Seattle Seahawks: Chris Carson will outscore Rashaad Penny and make us all cry
Carson just won’t die. I’ve heard Jason talk about Penny all off-season and yet all I’ve heard all training camp is Pete Carroll’s love for the hard-nosed, no-nonsense Carson. He’s a definite draft day steal.
San Francisco 49ers: Matt Breida will finish as an RB3 and it won’t stop Jerick McKinnon
The 49er backfield will be a goldmine of fantasy production as Kyle Shanahan knows how to make two backs relevant in fantasy like he did in Atlanta. Breida will have weekly FLEX appeal and his fellow Georgia Southern alum won’t miss a beat. There are 175 targets to be had between these two.
Arizona Cardinals: When Sam Bradford starts, he will never finish outside the top 15 on any week
This guy is a completion machine when healthy and will be given the chance to thrive in an offense that specializes in getting the ball out quickly to Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. If Bradford remains the starter longer to let Josh Rosen develop, he needs to be streamed regardless of the matchup.