NFC Preseason Predictions
Oh, preseason football, our relationship is so complicated. On one hand, you signal the football season’s beginning, with position battles, real tackles, and touchdowns that don’t really count. On the other, you are 4 games that nobody cares about, and 240 minutes of just hoping my guys don’t get hurt. In fantasy football, the preseason can be agonizing, but it isn’t without merit. Here are some things for the NFC that I won’t say I expect to happen, but won’t be surprised if they do. AFC fans rejoice: there are enough preseason predictions to go around.
Green Bay Packers: With Jordy playing but not at 100%, Randall Cobb will make the fantasy world forget that 2015 ever happened. He will again dominant nickel corners as teams focus on Jordy on the outside. Cobb will look like a WR1 as Nelson knocks the rust off.
Minnesota Vikings: Look for Stefon Diggs to come up big. It will take time for rookie Laquan Treadwell to get the swing of things, and Diggs will be a safety blanket in the slot for Bridgewater. He had a few good games last year and looks tailor made for the slot role in Minnesota.
Detroit Lions: With the departure of Calvin Johnson and the Eric Ebron injury, the path is basically cleared for Marvin Jones. In the preseason they will make sure he is ready to handle downfield and red zone duties. I expect him to be their primary red zone target and we should see him score at least 2 TDs.
Chicago Bears: Kevin White will be featured, Kevin White will deliver. The Bears have shown that they may not trust Alshon Jeffrey as a star WR. Behind White is Eddie Royal and a gaggle of other potential slot WRs. White’s talent is unquestioned; if he is healthy, he will do very well.
Carolina Panthers: Ted Ginn will prove to be a relevant part of this offense. This preseason should see Ginn lining up in the slot against corners that will have trouble matching his speed. With defenses keying on the returning Kelvin Benjamin and Cam Newton looking to spread the ball around, Ginn will prove himself draft worthy in these 4 exhibition games.
Atlanta Falcons: Tevin Coleman is going to shoot up draft boards. The Falcons are trying everything possible in training camp to get Coleman the ball, including working him at WR and on kickoffs. With his speed, I expect at least one return TD and his ADP to skyrocket.
New Orleans Saints: Coby Fleener will immediately remind every one of Jimmy Graham in this offense and his ADP will soar. Brees loves the TE, Graham was one of the best in his time here, and even Ben Watson cracked the top 10 in this offense. Fleener is a great talent and will immediately gel with Brees.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Charles Sims will outplay Doug Martin in all aspects of the game. Martin will remain the starter but Sims’ ADP will rise while Martin’s drops. Sims ended last season with the 2nd most receiving yards for any RB over the last 5 games. The Buccaneers will rest Martin due to his injury history and Sims will take advantage.
New York Giants: While Sterling Sheperd is the talk of the town, Victor Cruz will have a solid preseason. Cruz is, and always has been, a slot WR with great chemistry with Eli. If healthy, he will get targets and will almost look draftable in PPR formats.
Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott will disappoint. The Cowboys will use him very little knowing what they plan on doing with him once the real games start. Coming off of a training camp hamstring injury, the Cowboys will not risk the rookie in meaningless games.
Washington Redskins: Matt Jones will fumble, Chris Thompson will look great in the passing game and this will be an RBBC by season’s start. Thompson was already far better in the passing game in 2015, and if Jones can’t hang onto the ball, Thompson will control this committee.
Philadelphia Eagles: Darren Sproles will catch at least 2 TD passes and will see his ADP climb. Sproles has been one of the best pass-catching backs in the league for years. Early camp reports are that he is flourishing in Doug Pederson’s system, a system that used Dexter McCluster as a WR and made him a top 40 RB in a season where he had 8 total carries.
Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett will outplay Doug Baldwin in the preseason and begin a journey that ends with him being the clear #1 in Seattle. Lockett has been the training camp darling and at one point his position mates Baldwin and Kearse were referred to as “great compliments” to his play-making ability. I expect to see the speedy Lockett line up in the slot and just destroy some less talented corners.
Arizona Cardinals: I expect to see all 3 Arizona RBs and WRs score a preseason TD. The Cardinals sport one of the league’s best offenses and will score points all season long. In these first 4 meaningless games, they will look to get everyone involved. If you’re not savvy, I mean to say we will see David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown all find the end zone.
St. Louis Rams: The Rams will force feed Tavon Austin the ball until either he dies or shows that he can be an effective 2nd option to the Todd Gurley show. There was early coach speak that Austin could catch 100 balls in this offense. Jeff Fisher will use the preseason to be sure that he can even catch. Expect lots and lots of targets and his ADP in PPR formats to rise game by game.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde, Carlos Hyde, Carlos, Hyde. RBs succeed in Chip Kelly’s system and Hyde will look like a stud. Say what you will about Chip, but his offenses produce top 20 RBs. Hyde is basically the only horse in the stable in SF and has a lot to prove after a disastrous 2015. I look for him to get it going early.
Now, again, this is the preseason. I might be wrong about these things now, but very right later on. Or I could be correct now, and by the time Week 1 rolls around it turns out it didn’t even matter. We’re all just counting down until the games matter anyway; let’s just have some fun. The fact does remain, you need to stay in the know, and the best way to do so is with the Ultimate Draft Kit.