32 Shamelessly Bold Predictions for the 2020 Fantasy Football Season
This is now the fourth 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 2019’s shamelessly bold predictions that ended up in the “win column” from last season:
- Despite taking over as Big Ben’s #1 guy, Juju regresses marginally in all major categories
- Lamar Jackson leads Baltimore to the division title, ends up one of the best QB steals in fantasy
- Jameis Winston will throw 20 interceptions (ok… so he threw 30)
- Jared Cook has three multi-touchdown games and sets a career-high in total TDs on a season.
Here are my takes for 2020: bolder and spicier than Jason’s shimmy and way ahead of the cool curve Mike thinks he’s on.
Gesicki is essentially a big slot WR who is TE-eligible lining up in that position 66 percent of the time in 2019. He’s entering into his 3rd year in the league and it’s his time to show why he was a combine metric darling. OC Chan Gailey has a history of utilizing the TE position and Gesicki will end up being a major draft-day value for those who waited on the position.
New York Jets– Chris Herndon ends up a top-10 tight end in PPR.
All off-season I’ve stuck with Herndon as my preferred late-round TE target if you punted the position. Behind Jamison Crowder, he’s the only other pass-catcher I’d want from the Jets and I think he has the potential for 100+ targets.
Buffalo Bills– Josh Allen sets a career-high with 13 touchdowns on the ground.
I’m bullish on Allen this year even going out on a limb naming him the league MVP and predicting the Bills to win the Super Bowl. Wow. I know that’s a bit spicy but if he remains the team’s main goal-line back it’s possible he combines for almost 40 TDs.
New England Patriots– N’Keal Harry is the #1 WR for New England.
I believe in the talent and the opportunity is there for him to delete last year and start fresh. Cam Newton loves him some big targets (I see you Kelvin Benjamin) and Harry can be a red-zone weapon for a team desperate for difference makers. Julian Edelman will get his but Harry will outperform him thanks to the TD department.
Baltimore Ravens– Lamar does it again, almost identically.
Everyone is calling for major regression with his nine percent TD rate and blah blah blah… What if Lamar Jackson is just an outlier? Even if his rate slows down I can see the Ravens passing volume going up to make up the difference. Put the MVP down for 36 passing TDs and 1,200 on the ground. Why not?
Cincinnati Bengals– Joe Burrow has the best rookie season of all-time.
Bengals’ passers dropped back 665 times in 2019, the 5th most in the league. If Burrow sees that type of volume compared to the Andy Dalton–Ryan Finley display last year, he’ll break the rookie TD record set by Baker Mayfield a few years ago as I mentioned on the recent bold predictions show. Joe Mixon is my “MY GUY”, AJ Green might as well be, and Joe Burrow is impressing me…so consider me the fool who believes the basement-dwelling Bengals can push people this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers– James Conner is a top-10 running back for fantasy…until he’s hurt.
He’s a usage monster and someone who shines whenever he’s on the field. With Big Ben back in the fold, Conner can return to RB1 glory, which is a big deal considering he was being drafted in the 4th round. But the injury bug’s bite is always looming for this Steelers RB.
Cleveland Browns– The Browns aren’t great, but Odell actually bounces back.
Just to stroll down narrative street, he seems a bit more settled this year. He finally bought a house, he’s a year older and physically healthy. Bouncing back for Odell is returning as a top-10 WR including some absolute week-winning performances.
Indianapolis Colts– Nyheim Hines catches 75 balls.
Hines won’t go away and for good reason. This guy is going to be Philip Rivers‘ Austin Ekeler in Indianapolis and provide some safe week-to-week PPR value in leagues. Only five RBs crossed that statistical threshold in 2019. Hines could legitimately end up leading the team in receptions or at least place second behind T.Y. Hilton.
Tennessee Titans– Derrick Henry leads the league in rushing and rushing TDs.
He got paid but that ain’t gonna slow down the NFL’s answer to the Incredible Hulk. We haven’t seen back-to-back rushing titles since LaDanian Tomlinson did it in 2006 and 2007. Henry might just be a wrecking ball for the entire season instead of the second half surge we’ve been used to.
Houston Texans– The Flying V scores ten times.
Brush aside Jason’s ignorance in regards to the Mighty Ducks and assemble Fuller at the center of the Texans flying V formation. His ADP has steadily risen all off-season but he’s been a guy I drafted on a lot of teams because I think he can stay relatively healthy. He will be Watson’s main target and the touchdowns could come in bunches some weeks.
Jacksonville Jaguars– Gardner is just bad… for fantasy.
I brought this up on a recent show following Leonard Fournette getting cut. Over the past ten years, QBs on teams that had the worst record in the NFL averaged a QB27 finish in fantasy. That’s ain’t gonna cut it no matter what mustache or jhorts Gardner might be sporting. I’m fading this passing attack as this team gets remade and ready to draft Trevor Lawrence 1st overall in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs– Patrick Mahomes never finishes outside the top-12 on any week.
Even Lamar didn’t do that last year. Peyton Manning never did it. Mahomes came through in 14 out of 16 weeks in his magical 50-TD campaign of 2018. But for 16 weeks, you’re getting a top-12 performance, which would set a new standard for the QB position in fantasy. I have 500 million reasons why he could do it…
Jon Gruden went all-in on rookie Raiders WRs (try saying that five times fast) and, for fantasy GMs that take the flier on these late-round guys, I think they’ll be pleased. Edwards fell in the draft because of injury concerns but he’s been dominating camp. Ruggs III will be in the weekly FLEX conversation and surprise in divisional games against Kansas City and Denver.
Denver Broncos– Melvin Gordon II has double-digit rushing TDs.
Yes, he’s somewhat inefficient but for fantasy football… I DON’T CARE! Gordon has proven to be a TD scorer in the NFL and the Broncos paid him to be their goal-line back for a reason. The Broncos haven’t had an RB with ten rushing TDs since Knowshon Moreno in 2013. I like Gordon to change that for a competitive Denver team.
Los Angeles Chargers– Tyrod Taylor is start-worthy for as long as he’s the starter.
You know I have a soft spot for Tyrod. He’s more than a competent NFL starter; he’s been a fairly reliable fantasy starter. Mark him down for five QB1 weeks in the first three months of the season, more than Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and Gardner Minshew in that span.
Why is the WR22 from last year being drafted outside the top-30 receivers in 2020? We’ve seen him explode (see Week 17 last year) and he can rack up the yardage on a team that led the league in yards per play last year. His ceiling week-to-week is a WR1 and you’ll be happy to start him in your FLEX spot.
Philadelphia Eagles– DeSean Jackson ends up their highest-scoring fantasy WR over the year.
Another year and another season of WR carnage for the Eagles. Although oft-injured, DJax will emerge as the most valuable Philadelphia fantasy asset among their wideouts… and for more than just one game. I’m boldly predicting… HEALTH!
New York Giants– Sterling Shepard is miles above the other pass-catching options for fantasy.
Is it Golden Tate? Darius Slayton? The ever-tempting Evan Engram? No, it’s the somewhat bland Sterling Shepard who is going to emerge as the WR1 for Daniel Jones. Ever consistent, he’s going to outpace his ADP and you’ll be thankful you drafted him on your team even if your entire league passed on him.
Washington Football Team– Steven Sims Jr. is a surprise deep breakout.
Sims is a legitimate weapon and the Washington football team is trying to equip Dwayne Haskins Jr. with multiple options to hit teams with. He can hit a WR3-level and provide Washington fans with a glimmer of hope while they figure out who they are as an organization.
Green Bay Packers– Aaron Jones is a bell-cow RB, gets an extension, and is the team’s identity once more with 12+ TDs on the ground.
Jones is being poo-pooed on as being overly TD-dependent in 2019. Well, he was but it doesn’t mean the team is just going to abandon him for the sake of “regression”. The Packers are a running team and Jones takes the lead as Green Bay’s primary face of the franchise.
Minnesota Vikings– Adam Thielen snags over 100 catches.
Honestly, this isn’t that crazy. While only four receivers hit that mark in 2019, the targets are fairly concentrated around one man in the Minnesota passing offense. Let’s go even bolder: Thielen, at some point, sets the season-high for receptions in a game… with 15.
Detroit Lions– Matthew Stafford will be a top-5 fantasy QB.
Matt Patricia decided to #LetStaffordCook last year and he responded with an insane 5,000/38 pace before getting injured. Stafford went deep on first-half first downs on a massive 30.2% of his attempts, up from 5.5% in 2018. As I mentioned on the Bold Predictions Podcast, he’s a yardage machine that will be unleashed to continue to chuck the ball deep like he did last season.
Chicago Bears– The 2021 QB is not on this roster, both QBs flameout.
It ain’t Trubisky folks. And Foles is just there to keep things warm before Matt Nagy is out the door at some point during the season. Things could go downhill fast in Chicago.
New Orleans Saints– Latavius Murray scores an unpredictable eight times.
You won’t know when to start him and he could be a thorn in the side of fantasy GMs rostering Alvin Kamara. Murray played well last year in spurts and could easily start for a number of other NFL teams. While only 12 RBs hit that total in 2019, Murray will do it on less than 150 rushes ala Raheem Mostert.
Whether it be injuries, ineffectiveness, or a timeshare, Hill will have weeks as the Falcons lead fantasy RB in the same way Tevin Coleman was utilized. TG3 will have moments but Hill’s presence will show that this backfield might be a quagmire rather than a gold mine.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers– Tampa Bay makes the Super Bowl, but Godwin, Evans, Gronk, and Rojo all fail to deliver on draft value.
Tom Brady‘s weapons might add up for his fantasy value but each of these Bucs will disappoint. Each week it might be a different guy and fantasy GMs will be frustrated. They are my Super Bowl pick and I love Bruce Arians to scheme towards Brady’s strengths which encompasses spreading the ball around.
The Panthers offense is going to be fast-paced in 2020 and the fastest WRs on the team are actually not named D.J. Expect Samuel and Robby A to annoyingly ping-pong “boom” games and reduce the ceiling that Moore might provide to fantasy GMs.
San Francisco 49ers– Jordan Reed finishes in the top-10 TE in receiving TDs.
Reed claims he’s the healthiest he’s felt in years… which means he’s playing at 60 percent. While his health meter might be low, he’s still tantalizing as a receiving threat on a team that is creative and bent on getting the ball in space to their TEs.
For fantasy, we’re begging to #LetRussCook. Metcalf had a promising rookie year with 900 receiving yards and seven TDs. After leading the league in end zone targets, double-digit TDs are on the table in 2020. Lockett will be great as well but Metcalf might be the Seahawks WR going in the top-3 rounds of drafts next year.
Los Angeles Rams– Cooper Kupp leads the league in touchdowns…again!
We haven’t seen a player repeat as the league leader since Terrell Owens way back in 2001 & 2002. Reason No. 1: Kupp has Jared Goff‘s trust near the end-zone. Reason No. 2: Sean McVay knows how to utilize his big slot weapon. Kupp has averaged a TD every 9.3 catches in his career. Like a new iPhone, some trends just continue because they simply are the best at what they do.
Kirk will play the Robin to Nuk’s Batman forming a solid 1-2 punch in Arizona. There were only six teams to accomplish that feat last year: Dallas, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, both the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, and Carolina if you count CMC. Oh, and we’ll let Larry Legend be Alfred the Butler.