Welcome to the third installment of my BOLD PREDICTIONS article. Each year I take a swing at some big-boy predictions and how each team might surprise fantasy owners in the upcoming season. The past two seasons I’ve had a decent hit rate, some home runs, and some misses — but these are meant to be hot and spicy. Check out some of 2018’s shamelessly bold predictions that ended up in the “win column” from last season:
- Josh Allen will be better than everyone thinks.
- Michael Crabtree sucks… as in outside the top-40 suckage.
- Mike Williams will surprise all season long & score 10 times
- Saquon Barkley will catch 80 balls
- Anthony Miller will rise to fantasy relevance & a WR3+ finish
- Chris Carson will outscore Rashaad Penny
Editor’s Note: Want more of Andy’s fantasy advice and takes? Make sure you check out the UltimateDraftKit for his official Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts. These fantasy rankings are what made him FantasyPros’ #5 ranked expert of 2018.
Here are my 2019 bold predictions, one for every team:
New England Patriots: Sony Michel will lead the AFC in rushing.
Fantasy owners won’t see Sony Michel’s playoff performances in the regular season stat sheets, but Michel went absolutely bonkers in the playoffs putting up 129, 113 and 94 yards while scoring six times on the way to a Super Bowl title. Owners might fear his creaky knees, but Michel is being groomed into a true workhorse for a team that knows exactly what it wants to do to win ballgames. As a former first-round pick, Michel will finish the season as the top rusher in the AFC.
Miami Dolphins: Kalen Ballage never relinquishes starting RB role and finishes with 1,100 total yards.
I’ve been hesitant all off-season to endorse Kenyan Drake due to the Ballagio’s ability to turn a simple off-tackle into a 50-yard run. Beyond big-play ability, he might be a more durable back and showcased in college that he can also catch the ball. He is a steal in drafts and will be a low-end RB2/flex play each week.
Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary outscores Phillip Lindsay over the back half of 2019, establishing himself as an RB to watch for 2020.
The Buffalo backfield seems like its a logjam of old, busted players but it won’t be long until Singletary emerges as the main guy. Singletary will average 14+ fantasy points per game over the last nine games, a feat accomplished by only 15 RBs in that span last year. He will be much more than a late-round RB flier but a startable asset down the stretch for fantasy owners that scooped him in their drafts.
New York Jets: Sam Darnold has more QB1 weeks than Mitch Trubisky.
Darnold was money down the stretch last year and has showcased that he’s ready to take a step forward in 2019. For context, Trubisky was a top-12 QB seven times in 2018 and I think Darnold can get close to that mark this year. The Jets have enough competent weapons in their arsenal between Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, and Chris Herndon IV to allow Darnold to be on the streaming radar most weeks.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson leads Baltimore to the division title, ends up one of the best QB steals in fantasy
LJax is ready to take the next step forward not only as a passer but leading this Baltimore team to another AFC North crown. 1,000 rushing yards seems more than possible to add with 20+ passing TDs. With those types of numbers, we’re looking at QB grand-larceny as he’s currently the QB17 in drafts.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite taking over as Big Ben’s #1 guy, Juju regresses marginally in all major categories (receptions, yards, and touchdowns)
It pains me to say this about our Sleeperbowl best bud Juju, but I think we’ve seen his ceiling in terms of efficiency and yards. He’s still worth a mid-second round selection but his top-end numbers from last year of 111/1426/7 on 166 targets might slip slightly in 2019. Regressing isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you consider how high Juju is in my rankings.
Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb ends up with 15 TDs.
The Browns made it clear that Chubb is their main guy (at least for the first eight games of the season) when they traded away Duke Johnson Jr. Chubb is a monster in almost every metric and will be given ample opportunities in the red-zone on a Baker Mayfield-led offense. I’m buying the fact that Chubb’s film along with his massive workload can get him to 15 TDs this year, a feat only 3 RBs (Gurley, Kamara, & Barkley) accomplished last year.
Cincinnati Bengals: Fantasy owners are frustrated with Joe Mixon, as his talent is brick-walled and he scores fewer TDs than 2018.
Mixon’s eight rushing TDs look even more impressive when you realize that he was running behind one of the worst O-lines in the league. He ranked 2nd among RBs in yards after first contact, an amazing accomplishment given the circumstances. Owners might be a bit annoyed all season as the Bengals offense stalls out on drives and Mixon visits the end zone less than last year. I love his talent and his draft cost but the ceiling might not be there for the reigning AFC rushing yards leader.
Houston Texans: Will Fuller stays healthy enough to score eight times in 2019
Yes, you read that correctly. Healthy enough is a major step forward for Fuller, who never has lacked major upside. His per game pace with Deshaun Watson is unreal as he’s averaged 70+ yards and a TD per contest the last two years. This Texans offense will continue to move forward and I’m expecting a smoother overall ride for Fuller rather than the start-and-stop roller coaster we’ve experienced thus far.
Indianapolis Colts: Despite fewer snaps, Mo Alie-Cox scores twice as many touchdowns as Jack Doyle
GIGANTOR! Maybe you don’t know the name yet but if you watch a Colts game this year, you can’t miss this 10-foot tall monster on the field. Alie-Cox will get involved this year to the point of frustrating owners who started Eric Ebron or Jack Doyle. The Colts ran the 3rd most 2-TEs set in the league last year and Alie-Cox is the perfect tree-trunk of a man to haul in some red-zone TDs.
Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis catches fewer passes than Adam Humphries, Delanie Walker, and Dion Lewis. Corey Davis is unhelpful for fantasy.
The ship has sailed on my Corey Davis love long ago. He had every opportunity last year with the seventh-highest market share in the league but was dreadful for fantasy. He’s stuck within a dead offense and could find himself 3rd or even 4th in the pecking order with Checkdown Charlie himself, Marcus Mariota at QB.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Conley will surprise fantasy owners and be the 2nd favorite target of Nick Foles, behind Dede Westbrook
Conley has always caught my eye on the field and now has a real chance to assert himself as a playmaker given his 4.35 speed. I’ve been rising on this Jaguars offense especially the value that could be there in the passing game. According to many sites, the Jaguars WRs have the easiest fantasy schedule in the league in 2019. Conley will play his way into FLEX consideration and be an early-season waiver wire pickup.
Kansas City Chiefs: Darwin Thompson is fantasy relevant and splits time with Damien Williams by midseason.
I’ve been skeptical of Damien Williams’ usage and his track record all off-season. Thompson will slowly work his way into being a relevant part of this high-powered Kansas City offense. Perhaps he will do more to annoy Williams owners than breakout, but we will be talking about Thompson by Week 8 and the value behind his 8-10 touches per game. I can see him being uber-efficient with those touches while adding in a couple of breakaway runs that tease Andy Reid into mixing in his rookie RB more and more.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams has more WR1 weekly finishes than Julian Edelman and Robert Woods… COMBINED.
I was bullish on Williams’ double-digit TD upside last year and I’m ready to double-down. This year he will take a major step forward to be more than a red-zone threat but a consistent week-in and week-out performer. He will win you a couple of weeks and completely obliterate his current ADP.
Oakland Raiders: Darren Waller has enough big boy games to enter top-10 conversations for 2020.
The “Wallerus” is a TE in a WR’s body and could become one of Derek Carr‘s favorite safety blankets. He’s been annihilating teammates in practice but this will actually translate to the football field. There might be some lows but the huge, blowup performances will be there to tantalize us for what could be for the future. Scoop him up in dynasty while you can.
Denver Broncos: Emmanuel Sanders is once again the leading fantasy scorer for Denver at WR
There is something super-human about Sanders’ ability to recover from a devasting Achilles injury. He looks like his ankle-breaking self and will likely be Joe Flacco‘s top target. The temptation is to crown Courtland Sutton or Daesean Hamilton as the new hotness but sometimes the old guys just win out. Before his injury last year, he was the WR10, something he could flirt with at points during the season.
Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson scores eight times in 2019
I love DJax this year and his presence on the field is what makes Carson Wentz my pick to lead the league in passing yardage. He still has the juice on the field (18.9 ypc) and was a WR1 through the first month of last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Eight TDs will be a piece of cake and he will finish as a WR3.
Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup scores more fantasy points than Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Randall Cobb combined
It’s time to get out all your horse puns because Gallup is going to be a thing in 2019. He averaged more than five targets a game after Amari Cooper came to town, showing that he’s not relegated to being an ancillary piece. I liked him coming out of Colorado State last year and think he can be the legitimate WR2 on this team, something that never could be uttered along with Terrance Williams.
Washington Redskins: No wide receiver surpasses 700 receiving yards.
700 yards sounds like a pretty low bar to set. Except for last year, the leading pass catcher on the Redskins (Jordan Reed) had only 558 receiving yards! This is a fantasy wasteland. I want no part of the Josh Doctson/Paul Richardson experience and Trey Quinn will only hold minimal PPR value. Talk to me in a year about Terry McLaurin.
New York Giants: Golden Tate is a top-20 PPR receiver over the back half of the season
Tate is going to be buried in ADP following his four-game suspension and should go undrafted. However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel and he could provide some sneaky FLEX appeal over the last eight games of the season. I assume Daniel Jones will be the signal-caller then and Tate’s 6.7 aDOT will likely be super appealing to the rookie.
Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller separates himself from the pack, convincing fantasy owners to draft him above other Bears receivers in 2020
Miller is a bulked-up Emmanuel Sanders, a silky, smooth WR from a smaller D1 school with the elite ability to create major separation on his routes. He caught seven TDs last year but his game isn’t a fluke. Matt Nagy will realize he has a slot maven in his hands and will give him every opportunity to rise to the top of the Chicago WR ranks. Next year Miller is in the conversation as a top-20 wideout.
Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook leads the NFC in rushing yardage in a healthy 2019 season.
This has been Ezekiel Elliott‘s home for the last few years but now its time for a changing of the guard. I can’t get enough of Cook as an early 2nd round pick who is going to be a bell-cow in a system that wants to feature the RB. Book him for 1,300+ rushing yards. A healthy Dalvin Cook will single-handedly propel many owners to the fantasy playoffs.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers repeats some of the inefficiency from last season as the Packers struggle to get a consistent run game going once again, despite the talent of Aaron Jones.
And you thought Mike McCarthy was the problem… The Packers had the fewest rushing attempts in their franchise’s history last year but I don’t think it gets much better from a volume standpoint. At the end of the day, Rodgers will be Rodgers and magically trying to will his team to victory hasn’t worked out recently. Over his last 49 games, the Packers are 24-24-1. I want to believe in Aaron Jones and his talent but I think owners will be woefully disappointed again in what could be.
Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford underwhelms for fantasy owners, despite the Lions improving overall in 2019
Stafford has gone from taking 4,300 passing yards to the bank to an absolute dumpster fire of a fantasy QB. From Weeks 9 to 16, he averaged less than 200 passing yards per game. The Lions will be more competitive in 2019 and perhaps Jason will get his wish and see Kerryon Johnson unleashed as a feature back. I’ll give Stafford two total weeks inside the top-12, which is putrid and only one more than last season.
New Orleans Saints: Jared Cook has three multi-touchdown games, and sets a career-high in total TDs on a season.
Often a blight to own and predict, Cook follows up his consistent only-target-in-town season with Oakland with his most efficient one yet in New Orleans. I predict that thrice in 2019 Jared Cook ends up with a multi-touchdown game, and sets a career-high in total touchdowns in a season (former high is six, last season in Oakland).
Carolina Panthers: Curtis Samuel outscores D.J. Moore in fantasy
The fantasy community feels it with every passing moment in the preseason and every tweet that comes across my timeline. Curtis Samuel will be the WR to own in Carolina and his Reception Perception data backs up the fact that this guy knows how to get open. Via Matt Harmon: Last season he posted a 74.6% success rate vs. man coverage, which falls at the 94th percentile in #ReceptionPerception history. He also converted 73.7% of his contested catch attempts. There are players that have a percentage chance of breakouts and I’d put Samuels’ breakout as high up the probability ladder as you can get — unless he gets hurt.
Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones scores…12 times!
This is it, people. It’s happening. Julio officially can be crowned as Julio “TD” Jones this year as things finally break right for the all-world WR. The complete season fantasy owners have been looking for now will come to fruition. I already have him down to lead the league in receiving yards so perhaps my ranking of him (#2) is too low.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston will throw 20 interceptions.
Just for context, there have been only two QBs to throw 20+ INTs over the last five years. Winston will have a chance in a contract year to prove himself under Bruce Arians and an offense that will give him ample opportunities to throw downfield. He could couple those interceptions with 35 TDs but a trainwreck is waiting to happen if the wheels fall off.
Los Angeles Rams: All 3 Rams WRs finish outside the top-12.
Blasphemy! While logic seems that someone amongst this trip could easily slip into WR1 territory, the upside might not be there in 2019. I still love Brandin Cooks but would prefer him to be my team’s WR2 over leaning on him as my #1. Woods is solid but I think he had his best fantasy season last year. Kupp still is recovering from an injury so the start of the season could curb his overall upside.
Seattle Seahawks: Chris Carson and Rashad Penny both vastly outperform their ADP, and the tandem both ends up inside the top-25 at the RB position in 0.5-point leagues
Have I mentioned how much I love Chris Carson this season? Not only is he a “my guy” but Peach Cobbler is going to feed him the rock this year. The guaranteed workload is going to vault him into RB1 territory. Not to be outdone, Penny will have standalone value this year and surprise owners that he can be part of a mutually beneficial fantasy backfield.
San Francisco 49ers: Tevin Coleman never finishes outside the top-24 in any week that he starts
The Soulman finds himself in a fantasy-friendly system with a head coach in Kyle Shanahan who knows how to utilize him rightly. Coleman went from exciting to absolutely frustrating to own and start in 2018. With the 49ers, he will become one of the most consistent fantasy backs in the league and never finish outside of RB2 territory. For context, only five RBs (Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, & Melvin Gordon) never “busted” according to our metrics in 2018.
Arizona Cardinals: Christian Kirk breaks out, and the Kyler/Kirk stack looks juicy for dynasty owners for years to come
I have recently transferred Christian Kirk into “my guy” status as I’m buying into his ascendance to being the WR1 in Arizona. He has familiarity with Kyler Murray from college and the chemistry will be evident from Week 1. Kirk’s break out will make him a young, attractive dynasty piece that you should try to acquire right now.