So you had Jimmy Graham slated for 99 grabs and 1,300 yards last August? Your summertime projections showed Darren Sproles would rack up 86 receptions for 700 yards and seven scores, eh? And you argued for weeks before Opening Day that Cam Newton would run roughshod over defenders on his way to an ungodly 14 rushing touchdowns?
Wow, bro. Bravo. Nice calls.
Of course you didn’t argue in favor of Cam Newton as a top-tier quarterback or Graham and Rob Gronkowski as the tight ends who would forever change how the position is played. You would’ve been laughed out of the hive that is Twitter, where we all gather to bounce ideas and projections and guesses off each other until we’re all thinking and doing the same things, to some extent. I remember a few fantasy pros catapulting Graham up their rankings as the preseason wore on and he appeared to have a significant role in a juggernaut of an offense, but no one called for the kind of season he had. Same for Gronk.
This time in the fantasy year, when we’re all drafting or prepping to draft, can be defined by the conservative approach we so often take. We gravitate toward safety because we’re so deathly afraid of losing. You don’t want to get burned, so you ignore your gut and your eyeballs and you pass on that upside monster for a far safer, proven option. A certain amount of conservatism is expected and prudent, I think, but fortune favors the bold, or the brave, or the beautiful. One of those three, anyway.
Here are The Fake Football writers’ bold predictions for the coming season. Some are far bolder than others, and while some might seem brash and foolhardy, just remember that if you would have said Newton would open the season with 1,400 yards in his first four games, you would’ve been summarily laughed off the Twitter Machine by rankers who slotted the Panthers’ signal caller a handful of spots below Mark Sanchez.
Whether you find our predictions thought provoking or rage inducing, tell us on Twitter at @TheFakeFootball.
- Aaron Hernandez will out-Gronk Gronkowski and beat him in fantasy points this season.
- Doug Martin will have 60 receptions and 1,300 yards rushing, ranking him as a top-5 running back.
- Vick Ballard will lead the Colts in rushing and be a fantasy asset this season.
- Dez Bryant will catch 12 or more touchdowns.
- Kyle Rudolph will finish the season as a top-12 tight end.
- Kyle Rudolph will be a top-5 tight end. The training camp reports have been too consistently positive for this to be a complete apparition. Ponder will look to Rudy, the man with 10-foot hands, as a security blanket, especially in the red zone. Ponder’s various deficiencies will prevent him from going Gronk, but he’ll be a reliable TE1.
- Russell Wilson will finish 2012 as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Pete Carroll pulled a Pete Carroll Sunday night and named the rookie as his Week 1 starter, benching money man Matt Flynn. Wilson will inevitably struggle through the air, but his speed and – most importantly – willingness to scramble will keep his fantasy value afloat. Just watch the guy operate. He’s always at least one step ahead of the defense.
- Eric Decker will end the year with 100 receptions and 1,300 yards. I won’t say if this will make him fantasy’s top pass catcher because, well, Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones could make these numbers look vaguely pedestrian. But Decker has stupid chemistry with Peyton Manning, upon whose health Decker’s value depends. If Manning’s neck goes haywire, this all goes out the window and you can threaten me on Twitter.
- As I’ve said towards the end of last year, Jake Locker is going to be the most improved player in football this year.
- DeMarco Murray is going to have 1,600 all-purpose yards and 10 scores.
- Antonio Brown is headed for a monster season with 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns.
- No quarterback will top 5,000 passing yards in 2012. A year ago this was just logical, but now everyone seems to think it’s going to the norm. No lockout and defenses adjusting is going to make it awfully hard. Besides, history suggests it’s nearly impossible to repeat career year numbers in back-to-back seasons. I just don’t see it happening.
- We’ll get a 2,000-yard rusher this season. Whether it’s Chris Johnson doing it for the second time or Foster, Rice, or McCoy taking it to the next level, I think it’s high time a running back at least approached the plateau. This could be especially possible with the teams rolling with rookies or first-year starters.
- Jordy Nelson tops 10 touchdowns again. It’s not crazy, but probably against logic. Not many people think he can repeat his crazy touchdown numbers, although he’s a lock for extra receptions this year. I don’t see 15 scores, but I can’t imagine him scoring under 10. That offense is just too good.
- Brandon Lloyd finishes the season as the No. 1 fantasy receiver.
- Matt Forte will finish with 2,000 total yards
- Eric Decker will outscore Greg Jennings and Roddy White in PPR leagues on his way to a top-10 WR finish.
- No Redskins running back will rush for more than 750 yards.
- Andrew Luck scores matches or scores more fantasy points per game than Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.
- Torrey Smith will blow up with over 1,300 receiving yards and finish in the top 5 among fantasy wide receivers.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick will cut down on the picks and finish as a top 8 fantasy quarterback.
- Marshawn Lynch goes back to his 2010 ways, and fails to finish in the top 25 fantasy running backs.
- Despite serving a two-game suspension to start the year, Mikel LeShoure finishes the season as a top-20 fantasy running back.
- Malcom Floyd catches 80+ passes for 1200+ yards and 9 TDs, propelling himself and Philip Rivers to a top-10 fantasy finishes at their respective positions.
- In a flurry of deep balls to Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Carson Palmer outscores Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Schaub this season.