David Holmes’ 10 Bold Predictions
These are meant to be bold predictions, but Fantasy Douche told us to strive for 20 percent accuracy. So if these predictions were a soap opera, I would call them “The Bold and the Plausible.”
1. STEFON DIGGS WILL FINISH AS A TOP 20 WR
It shouldn’t be bold, but it is considering Diggs is currently being drafted as the WR43 in MFL leagues. It shouldn’t be bold, considering Diggs averaged 105 receiving yards per game in his first month with the Vikings (ranking just behind Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson during that stretch). But it remains a bold prediction because fantasy owners think he was a flash-in-the-pan. I don’t.
2. MARVIN JONES WILL LEAD THE LIONS IN YARDS AND TOUCHDOWNS
This is not a knock on Golden Tate. But Marvin Jones has a better chance to succeed in the red zone, and he’s playing for a team that ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing yards last season. He will thrive, and his price tag is about 50 picks later than Tate.
3. PHILIP RIVERS WILL FINISH AS A TOP THREE QUARTERBACK
He was the third-ranked quarterback in the first half of 2015, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out why he struggled after week eight: Keenan Allen got injured. In fact, the only QBs ahead of Rivers during that stretch were Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, both of whom should regress in 2016. Add another deep threat in Travis Benjamin, and Rivers looks poised for a career year.
4. COBY FLEENER WILL LEAD THE SAINTS PLAYMAKERS IN FANTASY POINTS
Obviously, Drew Brees is excluded from this prediction. But I’m taking Fleener to score more points than Brandin Cooks and Mark Ingram. The Saints target their tight ends like the Jenner girls target rappers. Jimmy Graham was second among tight ends in targets from 2010-2014, trailing only Jason Witten. Last year, New Orleans targeted 35-year-old Ben Watson 110 times, so the opportunity is there for Fleener.
5. LATAVIUS MURRAY WILL WIN THE RUSHING TITLE
I know what you’re thinking. If Murray does lead the league in rushing, it will take him 500 carries to get there. Granted, part of this argument is based on usage (Murray had 307 touches last season, good enough for fourth in the NFL). Plus Jack Del Rio told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I want to have more rushes. I don’t want [Murray] to have less.” But I also think Murray will be more effective than last year’s 4.0 YPC, with Derek Carr getting more respect from defenses, along with the addition of OL Kelechi Osemele.
6. NO BALTIMORE RAVENS WILL FINISH IN THE TOP 25 OF THEIR POSITION
First, let me explain why this is bold. Only one team last season accomplished this dismal feat: The 49ers. But I see this year’s Ravens as the ultimate avoid-at-all-cost fantasy team. We have a potential four-way committee at running back, not to mention four receivers that are all vying for playing time. Did I mention the tight end position is abysmal, too? Draft the Ravens, nevermore.
7. EVERY AFC NORTH BACKUP RUNNING BACK WILL OUTSCORE THE STARTER
OK, you might have to read that one a few times before you comprehend it. I’ll wait. Still waiting. Good? Okay, then. Moving on. Giovani Bernard remains criminally undrafted (RB26 in standard) and should get more targets this season with the thin WR corps in Cincinnati. DeAngelo Williams will get a four-game head start over Le’Veon Bell, with the potential of another Bell suspension or injury looming. I’ve already outlined the quagmire in the Baltimore backfield. And Duke Johnson clearly has the upside that Isaiah Crowell lacks. “Backup” is the new “starter” in the AFC North.
8. GREG OLSEN WILL NOT FINISH AS A TE1
Olsen has finished as a TE1 the last four years, and this year he’s being drafted in the top three at his position. This prediction is more hunch than stat-based, but I think the Panthers passing game will show regression in 2016. Cam Newton hasn’t thrown for more than 4,000 yards since his rookie season, and if Devin Funchess is as good as advertised, Olsen will not see the career-high 124 targets he got a year ago.
9. SHANE VEREEN WILL FINISH AS A TOP 10 RB IN PPR
The Giants have one of the more underwhelming running back situations in the league. Rashad Jennings is the starter when healthy. Rookie Paul Perkins is fighting for playing time. But it appears that Shane Vereen is the only one with a clear-cut role and a skill set you can count on. Last year, Vereen caught a career-high 59 passes. I think he’s one Jennings injury away (not a bad bet) from catching 75 balls this year and vaulting himself into RB1 territory in PPR.
10. BILAL POWELL WILL OUTSCORE MATT FORTE
I almost chose Powell in our players we own everywhere article. It doesn’t seem like a great situation, playing a third down role in the same backfield as one of the best pass-catching running backs of all time. But Forte is 30-years-old and might not play a single down in the preseason due to a hamstring injury. And Powell has shown he can handle the load, as he did last year from weeks 13-17 (a stretch in which he ranked fifth among RBs). I’ll take the 27-year-old pass-catching Jet, please.