3 Bold Predictions – Week 1
“I never saw that one coming.”
These will be the regretful words of fantasy folk who aren’t reading our Weekly Bold Predictions series. Those who are reading will have seen it all coming; you may not believe me, but at least you’ll see it coming.
In this regular column, we’ll look at weekly matchups, using history as a contextual backdrop in order to unearth the unexpected events that may actually have a chance at coming true.
Let’s get to three bold predictions for Week 1.
A.J. GREEN PUTS UP AT LEAST 180 YARDS
The Bengals superstar will pace all WRs in Week 1, and post a minimum of 180 receiving yards against the Ravens. Green is a famously fast starter, surpassing 130 yards receiving in three of his last five Week 1 appearances.
He hung 180 on the Jets in the opener last season, and he can do it again against the Ravens, a team he has lit up in the past. His last five battles with Baltimore yielded yardage totals of 227, 151, 131, 61, & 34.
Green has been busy against Baltimore over his last five outings, averaging more than 10 targets per game, and the Bengals haven’t been shy about peppering him with targets in the preseason either.
The GLSP App finds all kinds up upside in Green’s Week 1 matchup too; it’s not hard to see why when you see how he’s been able to abuse Baltimore in the past.
The Bengals have made no bones about getting Green involved in season openers, feeding him 13 targets in two of the last five. He’ll be heavily involved in Week 1 yet again.
NO ROOKIE HITS 100 YARDS*
*Kareem Hunt just made the best statistical RB debut in NFL history. His 246 total yards is the best rookie total in an opener since 2000, topping Adrian Peterson’s 163-yard and Cadillac William’s 148-yard debuts.
That’s great new for Hunt owners, but unfortunately for the rest of us, he’s used up all of the Week 1 rookie quota. I predict that Hunt’s hot start aside, not a single rookie will hit 100 yards receiving or rushing (combined yardage not withstanding) in Week 1.
This prediction isn’t as bold as you assume, since rookies have fared poorly in their Week 1 opener. A rookie WR hitting 100 yards in Week 1 is something that has happened just five times since 2000.
- Anquan Boldin set the benchmark with 217 yards in his debut, well ahead of Eddie Royal with 146.
- Will Fuller, Allen Hurns and DeSean Jackson are the other rookies in the 100-yard debut club.
- The 90-yard threshold has been hit just once, by Kelvin Benjamin.
- 12 rookies have had at least 80 yards receiving in their Week 1 openers.
Somewhat surprisingly, rookie RBs have fared about the same when it comes to hitting 100 yards.
Not including Hunt, a rookie RB has hit 100 yards rushing in Week 1 just five times since 2000. The 90-yard threshold has been reached four times, while the rookie RBs have hit the 80-yard mark just four times.
While this prediction may not be the spiciest we see all year, it’s a good reminder not to expect too much from all those highly-drafted rookies in Week 1.
CARLOS HYDE SCORES THREE TDS
Carlos Hyde is another player who gets out of the gate in a hurry. In three Week 1 appearances, he’s racked up five total TDs. This week, he’ll make it eight TDs over four openers, as he finds the end zone three times at home versus the Panthers.
Since 2000, a player has scored three rushing TDs in the Week 1 opener a total of seven times, and one of those was quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who had a hat trick on the ground in the 2000 opener. Priest Holmes had the best Week 1 TD performance with four in 2002. In that same time frame, a two-TD game in Week 1 has been accomplished 46 times, including twice by Hyde.
A three-TD total seems out of reach for Hyde, considering the 49ers are 5.5-point underdogs against a Carolina team with a reputation for tough run defense. It’s true the Panthers were one of the better run-defending units last season, but they weren’t elite. Carolina was ranked ninth in rushing yards given up on the road in 2016 and was 12th best in allowing rushing TDs. They also lost defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, so we shouldn’t assume we’ll see the same unit on Sunday.
They’re good but not great on run defense, and Hyde has higher TD potential when playing in the confines of home.
Hyde has dominated snaps for San Francisco in the preseason and should continue to be busy as he switches to the RB-friendly Shanahan system which has made stars out of RBs far less talented than Hyde.
The new head coach has also kept Hyde very involved in the passing game in the preseason. I predict he’ll score once through the air and twice more on the ground, with the final score coming as a game winner late in the 4th as the 49ers upset the Panthers.