If we didn’t have people in and around the Internet’s making bold predictions for this fantasy football season, well, all of our rankings would probably look like the pile of feces that pops up when you log into the ESPN Draft Room. Some of these predictions will come true and some of them assuredly will not. If I got them all right, they would probably send me to Oz with James Franco to hide behind a curtain of some sort. However, I can assure you that all of my bold predictions will be things that I truly believe CAN happen and they won’t just be trolling comments similar to what you get from that guy who’s name rhymes with Jip Spayless. Let’s see what we have:
5. Doug Martin will be a Top-10 RB in PPR leagues.
Yes, I know everyone is on the Doug Martin hype train, but hey, there’s got to be a reason that everyone is. The Bucs and the coaching staff clearly know what they have. Many people are still assuming that LaGarrette Blount will get a share of the early down carries. While that may be true, there weren’t many early down carries to go around for the Bucs last season. There was some solid PPR value from the Bucs 3rd down back last season due to them trailing so often and I don’t expect much improvement as a team. Essentially, Earnest Graham and Kregg Lumpkin split the 3rd down work last season totaling 84 targets and 68 receptions for 454 yards. Take a look at the stats below to see where that would have ranked among RBs if it were just one guy.
4. The Dolphins most productive standard-league fantasy WR is not on their roster right now.
We all know how pathetic the Dolphins receiving core is right now with guys like Davone Bess and Brian Hartline looking at high snap counts, but the Dolphins are clearly on the lookout for another wideout as the cuts start making more players available. They brought in a collection of receivers including New England castoff Donte Stallworth for workouts today. If the Dolphins can find a big play threat to pair with Ryan Tannehill’s big arm, he could easily be their most productive receiver by the end of the season.
3. Aaron Hernandez will finish as the 2nd most productive tight end behind only Jimmy Graham.
We all know how good Rob Gronkowski is, as well as how big of a douche he is, but I could write a whole article on that, so I digress. If Hernandez had played the full season last year, his numbers would obviously look much better than what they are. It has been noted by many that Hernandez actually had more red zone targets than Gronk last year, despite Gronk posting his ridiculous touchdown totals. There have also been reports this week that Hernandez has emerged as Tom Brady’s No. 1 target. While I could care less who the press considers his number one guy (since he essentially has 4 of them in my book), it does reinforce that everyone knows just how good Hernandez is. He is probably the most dynamic talent on the roster and has been used in the backfield as well as on punt returns, offering the run after the catch ability I look for in all of my receivers. I don’t expect Gronk to be bad at all, I just don’t see his 18 TDs as repeatable and I see Hernandez taking a major step forward to possibly 85-90 catches.
2. Sidney Rice will find himself in weekly WR2 territory.
This has a lot more to do with Rice getting back on the field and the Seahawks going with Russell Wilson than anything else. We all know Rice is talented, that’s why the Seahawks gave him that big contract. He has proven over and over again that when he is on the field, he has some of the best ball skills in the NFL. Russell Wilson’s strong arm will give him a chance to make many more plays down the field than if he were getting wounded ducks from Matt Flynn. He has obviously convinced coach Pete Carroll of his health, based on the prompt release of Terrell Owens once Rice got back on the field. The best thing about Rice’s injuries is that none of them were to his lower body, so he hasn’t lost any of his speed or explosiveness. Look for Rice to be an inconsistent, yet explosive low-end WR2 option most of this season and right now you can get him at a WR4 price in drafts.
1. Darren McFadden will finish as fantasy football’s top RB option.
I can flat-out guarantee you that McFadden will be one of the top per-game performers this season and few of you will argue will me, but this season, his potential is even higher than it’s been in seasons past. He has the best combination of talent and opportunity in the league right now. Run DMC is the most gifted back in the league at this moment, with Adrian Peterson recovering from his knee injury still. With Michael Bush now stealing touchdowns from Matt Forte in the Windy City, McFadden assumes both the goal-line and clock killing roles for the Raiders. He has been the featured part of their offense for the last 2 years, but with the addition of these roles, his ceiling is higher than anyone’s heading into this season. Now, I know many have his injury concerns in mind, but to those people I say:
…It’s Fat Albert!
But, in all seriousness, I have spent a lot of years, like most of you have, playing fantasy football and every year people win because they take chances. Whether it is with waiver wire adds, so-called injury prone guys or a late-round flier in your draft, that is how fantasy championships are won. For more reasoning on why it is pointless to try and predict injuries, make sure to check out Frank Dupont’s article debunking of the “injury prone” label from earlier this week.
Let us know some of your bold predictions for this 2012 season in the comments below!