(6/14/18): There are two players this year that excite me more than everyone else... those players are Deshaun Watson and Ronald Jones II. You can read more about Jones under his Bold Prediction. As for Watson, there is no player in the league that has more scoring potential during any given game. At any moment, Watson can drop 300+ passing, 3-5TDs, all while rushing for 40 and another TD. No player has more upside during any single game. Given that he will likely have 2-3 of these monster performances, all mixed with extremely-steady play all year long, that spells fantasy MVP in my book. Last year, Watson totaled 1,699 passing yards (242.7 per game), 19TDs, 269 rushing yards and 2TDs, all in just seven games. As a rookie! To put that into perspective, that would pace out at 3,883 passing yards, 43.4TDs, 614 rushing yards and 4.5TDs. That's 48 combine rushing/passing touchdowns. That's unbelievable for any player, let alone a rookie. The guy has one of the best receivers in the league to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins, he has a big-scoring offense to utilize, and the maturity of a veteran. I truly believe Watson will be able to flirt with 40-45 total touchdowns, 4,000 yards passing, and 500+ rushing yards.
I know most love the idea of drafting a quarterback late. It's become a norm in many ways, and for good reason. In redraft, for example, you have players like Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, and even Tom Brady, falling into the 5th-round. Or, at least 1-2 of those guys will. In some cases, one might fall even further. This makes it a really attractive idea to wait on drafting your passer in 2018 (dynasty or redraft). That said, it's all about who you can get with the two picks in question when you look at the approach. For example, if you can take a Deshaun Watson in the 3rd-round and a RB in the 5th, or a RB in the 3rd-round and a Tom Brady in the 5th-round... which one is more appealing. Well, it really depends on the RB you can land in the 5th-round. If it's an undervalued guy that can over-perform, then drafting Watson in the 3rd-round is the crafty move. The point is, don't let the trend of waiting on a QB have you avoiding a QB you consider to be 36-40TD capable. Any player with 40TD potential warrants even first-round consideration. I'm not saying to draft Watson in even the second-round, as his ADP sits well into the 3rd... however, his value, to me, is actually top 10, which makes him a bargain in the 3rd-round.
(8/19/20) While I hope neither runner starts games in 2018, as I am a LeVeon Bell owner in a few leagues, this duo is the kind of secret weapon duo that can help win a league if injury strikes in Pittsburgh. First off, the offensive line in Pittsburgh will move the ball regardless of who is in the backfield, but Conner has unbelievable power and quickness for his size, and he can rack-up 100-yard games and a TD on the regular if starting games for PIT in 2018. Jaylen Samuels is a different style rusher, but I handcuff him to Conner because he has speed and quickness that would also thrive in that PIT offense if his number was called. I think that if starting games, either runner would produce low-end fantasy RB1 numbers per start. That's the kind of back-up you don't just handcuff when you own the starter... you grab the duo even if you don't own Bell in 2018, and especially if you don't own Bell in 2018.
(6/13/18) Ok, first off, we screamed from rooftops for all to grab this kid prior to Week one last year... I'm a big believer in this kid. I like Jordan Howard, and I think that he could have a 10TD season during any given year... that doesn't change the fact that Tarik Cohen is electric and capable of being a PPR beast even along side of a healthy Howard. This makes him one of those secret weapon-type players in 2018, because even if he doesn't ever get the starting gig, and I'm talking 200+ carries, well, he still earns you his draft/trade value if he is pulling in 50-60 passes for 500 yards and let's call it 7-8 total TDs. If Howard gets hurt, which is rather likely, Cohen could a machine in both PPR and non-PPR. Bears coach Matt Nagy has been excited about Cohen this off-season, and unfortunately that's creating a touch more buzz around the guy... still, even if emerging on a lot of people's sleeper list this year, he is still massively-capable of outperforming his 7th- to 8th-round ADP. Even if his ADP climbs to the top of the 6th, he can crush that value. Given how much I pimped this kid last year prior to Week 1, I'm really pulling for this Bold Prediction. This is about as low-risk as it gets, too, as again, he can earn his current market value on PPR-only product. But, I'm expecting 1,200 total yards, 50-60 receptions and 8-10 total TDs.
I love this kid. Honestly, the more I watch, the more I'm absolutely convinced that this kid will walk into the NFL with more ceiling than any other passer in this 2018 rookie class. Now, his landing spot could determine a lot, at least for his first year or two, so it would be foolish to expect the guy to be a top 5 fantasy QB right out of the gate if let's say in Cleveland. However, this is the kind of player that can turn a franchise around fast. Plus, if in Cleveland, he will have weapons, especially if Saquon Barkley fell to the Brown's other first-round pick. But, regardless of landing spot, I think this is just one of those players where talent will rise, but where he lands could determine how fast that talent rises. Ok, so landing spots aside, this kid has a HUGE arm. I mean huge. He could arguably walk into the NFL and on day one have THE STRONGEST arm in the entire league. Aaron Rodgers might give him a run for his money, but honestly, that's about it. Here is footage of him reportedly tossing 80-yard bombs at his pro day, and here is another clip of him tossing a 77-yard bomb. Arm strength is just one aspect of his elite skill set... he has the tools to excel fast at the next level and he has great ball placement and pocket presence. I know I have a grip of rookies in this year's bold predictions, folks, but that's for good reason... this class is amazing. Last year's rookie class was amazing... college football is sending the NFL more prepared players and they are really taking the NFL by storm in year one vs needing 1-2 years like in the past. I made a statement in Courtland Sutton's Bold Prediction and I will repeat it here. If there were only 3 players you had to call out as most likely to become the elite of the elite in fantasy football, which three players would you name. That answer is easy for me... Saquon Barkley could be the No. 1 overall fantasy rusher by 2019's beginning, Courtland Sutton could be 1-5 at his position in just one year's time, and Josh Allen might look like a top 4 fantasy QB by August of 2019. Get some!
Watch Video Footage
Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs could be something special, and I mean real special... to the tune of constant flirting with top 5QB/WR #s in 2018. Heck, that entire Vikings offense is going to explode, and each dynamic piece will keep every other stud often facing single coverages. Dalvin Cook can flirt with top 5-10RB numbers (cuff him to Roc Thomas if he makes the team, he's the Tarik Cohen handcuff of 2018 if he does make the team), and while I'm likely undervaluing Adam Thielen, but he's a top 15-18WR (some might say way higher, but I'm picking bigger #s from some of the other amazing parts of this 2018 offense). Kyle Rudolph has top 5TE upside this year... back on topic... I think Cousins has a cup of coffee with the top 2-5 fantasy QBs all season long, and some games the defense will be so on point, that could be the only reason he finishes in the 5-6 range for QBs. I love Cousins this year, and I think he laser-locks onto Stefon Diggs much like Ben Roethlisberger locks onto Antonio Brown. I'd almost be shocked if Diggs didn't pull in 80-90 receptions for 1,200+ yards and 8-10TDs in 2018 (if playing at least 15 games or so).
Folks, I know this is just my opinion, but I see Cousins, Diggs, Cook and Rudolph all capable of top 5-10 #s at their position in 2018! That would be insande, and it would likely lead to a Super Bowl appearance. Let me get crazy-bold within my own bold prediction. I venture to say that the Vikings will have one of those seasons that looks close to undefeated through the first 2/3s of the 2018 NFL season. The could lose a couple games at most this year. Why? Besides all this offense that I'm mentioning, their Defense is one of the league's best. You couldn't ask for a better recipe for success putting all these offensive weapons on one side of the ball, then having one of the best defenses in the league on the other. Get some!
Kirk Cousins a top 5 QB this year? Stefon Diggs a top 5-10WR? We think so in both cases!! #stefondiggs @stefondiggs #kirkcousins @kirk.cousins #kylerudolph @kylerudolph82 #adamthielen @athielen19 #dalvincook @dalvincook #sleeper #sleeperu #sleepers #smitty #2018fantasyfootball #fantasyfootball #nfl #preseason #breakouts #breakout #boldprediction
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Fact: Deshaun Watson loves Will Fuller. Stat: Will Fuller pulled in 7TDs from DeShaun Watson in the four games that they played together last season. Seven! In four games! Extrapolated out on his four-played games with Watson, Fuller would be looking at 1,116 yards, 52 receptions and 28TDs. No one is saying Fuller will score 28TDs on 16 games with Watson, or even close to that total; however, Watson is on our 2018 Bold Predictions, too, and predicted to toss for 40+TDs. At some point you have to look at what Watson did last year, which was throw for 19TDs in 7 games (and ran for 2 more), which is 48TDs if extrapolated out across 16 games. Watson got hurt in Week 8 of last season, and Fuller didn’t play Weeks 1-3. Again, they played in just four games together before the rookie QB went down... Fuller did very little last year after Watson was carted off the field for the season. With Fuller reunited with Watson for what will hopefully be their first 16-game season together, I’m predicting a 1,000-yard, 10-13TD season out of Fuller in 2018. Toss in 65 or so receptions. Fuller is an aggressive receiver, and he compliments the style of play of DeAndre Hopkins. He will benefit greatly having Hopkins opposite him. Folks, this is one of those situations where the passing attack on a team can produce two 1,000-yard receivers, and it can produce two double-digit scoring receivers, too. Fuller will be open early and often in 2018, and I think he breaks out in a MONSTER way during his third NFL season. His ADP will determine everything, though, and it currently floats around the 6th- to 7th-round range. I've seen him go higher, but on average, he floats in that later range, which still has room for him to be a steal in hindsight. Fuller will be one of those players where most fantasy owners, who miss out on him, look back and ask how they didn't see his breakout season coming. The writing (stats) is on the wall.
Updated: 2/2018: Leonard Fournette is a huge name in fantasy football already, rushing for 9TDs and 1040 yards (with 302/1TD receiving) during his rookie season. All in all, that’s a great rookie season. He clearly has double-digit TD capability any time he plays 16 games. Easily. But, while he is a big name in fantasy, he also has a big frame (6-0, 230-240), which means he is a bit more susceptible to injury, and he proved that throughout the year with a nagging ankle injury. It wasn't just a single ankle injury this season, folks, he was tagged as having chronic ankle issues in college (missing six games of his final college season), and he nearly escaped having a torn ACL in October of his rookie season this past NFL year. Call it gut instinct, reckless speculation, call it whatever you want, but I'm not feeling longevity here at all. Not at all.
Whether it was due to injury, or just bad play, only three times last year did Fournette average over 3.8 yards-per-carry (YPC).. only twice did he averag over 4.2 YPC (in weeks 5 and 6), and he had five games of 2.9 YPC or worse. He has looked banged up all the way through the playoffs thus far, and despite having a big second 3TD outing in the Divisional Playoff contest against the Steelers, he averaged 2.7 YPC in the Wild Card win, and in today's Conference match-up against the Patriots, he averaged 3.16 YPC.
Look, there is no denying he is a wrecking ball, and he can absolutely score 2-3TDs during any given contest. That does not make him reliable, and given his HUGE injury history, mixed with his huge frame, which will surely breakdown at a faster rate than a player at 200-210, I can envision him having huge games here and there and ultimately leaving fantasy owners hanging when push comes to shove each and every season. Could he have a big season in even 2018? Sure, it's possible, and again I am not denying his ability, if healthy and on the field... but, my gut screams caution with this top 5-7 overall value that is now tagged to him heading into 2018. That leaves no room for error or nagging injuries each year. It just doesn't..
A grip of things are stacking against him heading into a sophomore season, often the year players fall victim to the sophomore slump:
1. history of ankle injuries dating back to college
2. nagging ankle injury all year during his rookie season
3. extremely aggressive rushing style that can lead to injury
4. proven 3.9 yards-per-carry during his first season
Again, it is totally possible Fournette plays beast-like during games, even a string of them, but will he be there in Week 14 healthy and playing? Will he get above his 3.9 yards per carry average? Will he fend off injury over his career when he was labeled chronically injured with the ankle all the way back in college? Time will tell, but the red flags suggest that selling is a smart move in existing leagues (as his value is through the roof)... sell for an equal player that has less risk. That isn't a knee jerk reaction, it's just playing it safe with a lateral move. Folks, if I am wrong, if we are wrong (assuming you end up selling high on him and you also believe this), what's the worst that can happen if he goes nuts? You're selling high, right? His value is through the roof.
I took a lot of heat for years predicting this same thing out of Eddie Lacey, who faced similar size issues heading into the NFL... I'm predicting 'eventual' bust for Leonard Fournette.
I just posted a newswire post on this, and it's pushing me to add this. Kenny Golladay was #10 on the Bold Predictions last year. I'll get to that in a second, as he showed tons of skill as a rookie... well, it sounds like he's taking his game to an entirely new level this year... Lions wide receiver Golden Tate recently commented on wide receiver Kenny Golladay, stating that he think Golladay "can be dominant."
"He’s a WR1 kind of guy." said Tate. "I saw freakish catches, man — some real freakin' freakish catches. Kenny's still a young guy trying to figure it out, but he's moving at a great pace." Again, he was on our Bold Predictions list last year, and for good reason. Our prediction was:
(Posted Last Year: 8/9/2017) Kenny Golladay is not a huge name in fantasy football – yet. I think that will soon change, and it might happen way too quickly. The 2017 rookie receiver is fighting for the Lions’ WR3 job, but he’s already making some noise and looking like a red zone monster. He is 6-4, 213 pounds, but he moves a lot like a faster AJ Green. I’m not saying he is as good as AJ Green just yet, I’m merely drawing a playing style comparison... I think this kid screams elite. In his two seasons at Northern Illinois, he posted the following lines: 73/1129/11TDs in 2015, and then 87/1156/10TDs in 2016 (with 192 rushing yards). In the pros, I eventually see him posting similar numbers, folks. I think this is a double-digit touchdown receiver right here, he just needs a shot and he should have that shot in Detroit!
At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, and with 4.5 speed, freakish is the only way to describe him. It's the only way to describe him with the respect that he deserves. The dude can go up and get a football as good as anyone, as good as AJ Green, he just needs to understand the space around him and get a feel for his ability. His speed, at 6-4, is unbelievable. I think if he gets enough targets, we will see a monster be born by season's end in 2018.
Video Footage: Watch this footage
(9/5/2018) I just acquired Amari Cooper in two different leagues. I was torn on the guy leading into the months of January through about June, as he hugely disappointed me last year. I had him on the Bold Predictions last year, calling him a top 5WR for 2017. He failed. He had a horrible season minus his 7TDs. John Gruden has always had a 1,000-yard receiver, and he loves Cooper. Granted, Gruden loves everyone, and if you asked him about the team's 5th wide receiver, he'd probably tell you he's gonna have a fantastic year. Still, there is a reason I targeted Cooper on the Bold Predictions last year... he is elite. He has great size at 6-1, 225 pounds (gained muscle this year)... He lacked some confidence last year, and struggled with drops, so I think that the added muscle will be a positive for his frame. It sounds like Oakland will spoon-feed Coop this year, and I'm going to predict to the tune of 80-90 receptions, 1200 yards and 8-10TDs. Don't trade for him at value that equates to a third-drafted player, he has some risk of carrying over last year's disappointment into this year. However, if he can be had at low-end WR2-type value, I think the risk will be baked in, making him pure upside in 2018.
(8/28/18) I've been writing and posting videos on both Ronald Jones and Royce Freeman being top 3RBs from this draft class since before the 2018 NFL Draft, and in some cases, since January. R-Freeman is certainly on the rise now, so he won't be near as cheap as Ronald Jones via draft or trade. But, Royce still has top 5-10RB upside for the now and future, so even at 4th-round value, he has huge, huge upside. RoJo is dropping into a 6th- to 8th-round pick in many leagues, so his ADP is falling fast. Lots of news is circling newswires speaking to his lack of pass protection, dropped balls, and questionable situation. This only helps make him a cheaper investment. He has top 10RB appeal for the future, no question. I hope he gets a chance earlier vs. later, as I think Royce and Ronald are gonna be great.
(6/14/18) This rusher has an elite mix of both Devonta Freeman and Alvin Kamara. Jones is a track athlete that has electrifying speed and quickness. He will be an instant play maker in 2018, and I think the Bucs won't be able to keep him off the field. If you watch his game film, you can't help but see a mix of Freeman and Kamara. He also has a toughness that he isn't often given credit for. He is 5/11, 206 pounds, so many wonder if he can be an every-down back. But, time and time again, smaller rushers, like Kamara and Freeman, have proven doubters wrong. When I watch the video footage of this kid breaking off long play after long play, not to mention grinding it out like a beast between the tackles, I just scratch my head as to why he isn't everyone's #2 runner from this 2018 rookie running back class.
It wouldn't shock me at all if Jones ends up being a top 15 overall pick in 2019 fantasy football drafts. He is my #2 overall rookie after Saquon Barkley.
Video Footage: Watch Now
4/19/18: Travis Kelce posted 83/1083/8TDs last season, and he had 85/1125 and 4TDs the year prior. With Patrick Mahomes now under center in K.C., I'm expecting 90-95 receptions, 1200+ yards and 10-13TDs out of Kelce in 2018. Those are huge numbers, and they'd make him an elite WR1 if mixed into the WR pool, but Mahomes is likely the real deal and I fully expect him to utilize Kelce on the regular. I also think 5-6 100-yard games is doable for Kelce; I also wouldn't be shocked if Kelce wins a lot of leagues for owners crafty enough to land him in the 28-36 overall range. Come Week 4-5, I predict he is valued as a top 15 overall player. He is 28 years old, so he isn't exactly a spring chicken; however, he only has four-played seasons in the pros, so he's a lot fresher than the average 28 year old tight end. I think he has top 1-2TE ability for at least 3-4 more seasons. That's a ton of time! Buy now in dynasty, and target as late as you can (to maximize value) in upcoming redraft. Honestly, one of my favorite dynasty moves right now is using Kelce in package deals, as he is strangely undervalued in many leagues. I just traded Josh Gordon and a future 1st- and 2nd-round pick (projected late picks given the strength of my team) for Jordan Howard and Travis Kelce. This was quite the steal in my view, as I think Kelce is the clear #1TE this year (and worth my future draft picks, both projected late), and Howard, in my view, is easily worth more than Gordon. The point is, Kelce being treated as the side piece seems to work well. Why? Asking for any player straight up calls attention to that player. I would venture to say if I just asked for Kelce out of the blue, the owner in question here would have said no. I'd even bet that this same trade offer would have got rejected had I first went after Kelce and then offered this same deal. Fantasy football trading is a psychological process -- you have to think outside the box sometimes to get deals done.
Updated: 2/2018: For a guy that had only 57 receptions for 966 yards and 4TDs, it's quite amazing that TY Hilton had four 100-yard games with three of those games being for over 150 yards (two of them both in the 170s). This should scream out a couple things to you... 1) The guy is insanley-explosive, similar to how tremendously-capable Antonio Brown; both are in a league of their own when it comes to games that are off-the-charts yardage-wise... 2) You can't have four 100-yard games (three of which were over 150, and two of which were over 170) all while pulling in under 1,000 yards passing (in a full season) unless you are beast-moding it all by yourself... meaning, Hilton was getting very little help from his passing situation, and it means that he was taking the targets that were catchable and making the most of them. How can we confirm this? Yards-per-catch... and, what do you know, he was 4th in the entire league in yards-per-catch (YPC) when looking at receivers that pulled in at least 30 receptions. Folks, this is the bounce-back gem in all drafts in 2018. Redraft, dynasty, keeper, if you want a cheap, yet WR1-talented, fantasy wide receiver that let everyone down to the extreme in 2017, this is your guy! You don't go and drop 966 yards and 57 receptions (on 16 games) and enter that next year overhyped. He will be a bargain in most all formats come August (and now if you do draft early)... and in dynasty/keeper, trade for him now before hype slowly builds around that Colts offense and the progress of Andrew Luck. Now, could Luck fall victim of more setbacks and never return in 2018? Sure, it's possible, and surely that will hold Hilton back from maybe regaining his elite WR1 value. However, no matter how things shake out with Andrew Luck this coming season, Hilton has already fallen into a safe value zone that he can earn his draft/trade value at, so he's already at his floor in terms of fantasy price tag vs. return... This means it's all upside from here on out, so if Luck regains his form and plays in 2018, Hilton could be back to the elite, thus you will have yourself a 80-90 reception receiver that can pull in 1,200-1,300 yards and 7-10TDs (all at the cost of what looks currently to be a receiver you can grab at 38+ overall value). And, by trade (so existing leagues), I venture to say you can get him well outside of top 40 overall value, as often times people panic with players that have fallen flat on their face (in fear that they will never return and that makes the current owner want to get something for him before things turn worse).
2018 TY Hilton Projections: 88 receptions, 1310 receiving yards and 8TDs
(Updated: 5/25/18) This one is kind of bold, yet here at SleeperU, he has a nice little following (shoutout to @swampies and gang). So, the thing about this prediction is, I think it's important to ackowledge that Jay Ajayi (or even a Sproles per start, if he starts any games) as also capable of being super undervalued. This means that the situation is at least half of the reason I'm writing this prediction for Corey Clement, and there is nothing wrong with situating being a driving force behind why someone has a huge fantasy season or career. Arian Foster was amazing, but his situation was equally amazing, thus he wouldn't have likely had as dominate a career playing outside of Houston. He just wouldn't have. And, that's ok. We don't have to separate situation from talent, it's all one nice little package in fantasy football. The Eagles are Super Bowl Champs and have an amazing offense and it's fantasy potent. The Eagles starting runner, assuming one rusher gets at least 60% of the work, should thrive in terms of fantasy. Even 60% of the work could prove to create close to top 5-10 fantasy numbers in PPR. I love Corey Clement's rushing style. Duce Staley has developed him nicely, and I predict that he and that Eagles' coaching staff push him more and more into a three-down role. This could happen as quickly as Week 1, if Clement generates some buzz and impresses in the coming weeks and months (especially in preseason games), or it could take several weeks into the regular season as the Eagles try using Jay Ajayi and a rotation. Ajayi is very prone to injury, so Clement is a secret weapon, a sleeping giant (even in a situation where he isn't yet starting). Both playing early or not playing early are possible for Clement in 2018, and the slower path to the starting lineup won't have me discouraged whatsoever, as a slow climb into the spotlight makes him easy to acquire via trade in August redraft drafts. Act now in dynasty, though, get the value now while it's for the taking... redraft leaguers have to wait and hope they can draft him before he climbs the ranks in everyone's eyes... If he generates all kinds of buzz between now and let's say August 1, well, you're gonna see his ADP climb to levels that make him almost high-risk. Maybe. Right now, though, his redraft ADP is in the 12-13 round range, which is near players like Marqise Lee and OJ Howard and Alex Smith. Folks, that's as low-risk as it gets. It's silly-low. If he doesn't workout, or gets hurt, you risk very little. You lose nothing. And, his dynasty ADP might be a handful of rounds higher than the 12-13 range, but that's still low-risk. Clement didn't get a ton of action during the 2017 regular season, as he was an undrafted free agent, but he did get attention in the playoffs... he rushed three times for eight yards and caught 4-of-5 targets for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' Super Bowl 52 upset of the Patriots. His usage was at the end of the year, so he has a lot of unknown factor heading into early fantasy drafts. This is great news, again, as it makes him undervalued and flying in under the radar.
He reminds me a lot of a Brian Westbrook. He can receive as well as he runs between the tackles, and he is shifty and can bounce a run to the outside as good as anyone. And, as mentioned above, his situation is absolutely ideal if he gets enough touches. His yards-per-carry should by default be in the 4.2-4.4 range, and if he improves and gets better and better, which I fully expect, I could see him nearing the 4.8-4.9 per-carry. Long-term, I also see him being a 900 and 500 type of rusher, with years of rushing for over 1,000-1,200 yards, but really being a massively-consistent 1,500 total yard rusher/receiver (with 60+ receptions and 8-10 total TDs).
(8/28/18): With the injury to Marqise Lee (knee/out for season), Keelan Cole now steps into the top receiving spot (at least skill-wise and likely target-wise), which translates into being the top fantasy receiving option in Jacksonville heading into Week 1. Cole was amazing last year. During his rookie season, he was 5th among receivers in fantasy points from Weeks 13 on, posting 23-475-3TDs in that small span. Some alarming stats, in a good way: He was second-best in yards per reception (17.8) and third-best average run after the catch (7.1) at his position. Donte Moncrief is favored by some, but I think Cole has the experience in that Jacksonville offense, and he has the trust of his offense. Dede Westbrook and rookie D.J. Chark could make some noise in Lee's absence, sure, but my gut tells me Cole is the real deal. He passes the eye test, folks. I sense a 1,000-yard season and 6-7TDs (if not more) for my favorite late-round WR.. his ADP right this second: 10th- to 11th-round. Steal!
(9/5/18) We've written on this a ton in other places, but it's time to drop Adrian Peterson onto the Bold Predictions one last time. He was left for dead in early drafts, but his recent preseason success has him looking like the AP of old, or at least a still-very-good-version of his old self. Will he stay healthy on 16 games? I don't know about that, but I do know that if he plays like he did in the preseason, he might crank out high-end RB2 numbers for as long as he stays on the field. He wasn't a bum last year... he struggled in AZ, who struggled in general. But, he had two big 100-yard games in 2017, so it wasn't like he didn't impress at all last year. I think he still has it, folks, at least for one more campaign (short or long).
3/2/18: We tried to warn folks back on January 2 that the Saquon Barkley hype was gonna get crazy come Combine/draft time... and it has. To the max! This kid might be a top 1-3RB this year, and I think it's super likely he is ranked in the top 1-3 overall in all 2019 drafts. For anyone that missed trading for the 1.01/aka Barkley before his value doubled, and that's how crazy things are now getting, try this tip on for size... it's the next big idea that can be just as big for your franchise!
1/2/2018: Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and Nick Chubb all have top 10 overall fantasy football value heading into the future. That's how good this 2018 NFL Rookie Running Back Class is, folks. Plain and simple. Barkley, though, has Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott skill/upside... I firmly believe that Barkley will be a top 5RB as a rookie in 2018, then I project im to enter 2019 as a top 1-2 overall pick in all 2019 fantasy football drafts. He is every bit NFL ready as any rusher to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Am I being too optimistic? Some might suggest this, but I see elite in this running back, and I think he eventually has 12+ TD upside in the NFL... Barkley, who is 5-11 and 230 pounds, has LeVeon Bell's receiving ability and shiftiness, and he can leap over defenders and power through rushing lanes like Todd Gurley... and, he also has a lot of Zeke Elliott to his game. In 2017, Barkley rushed for 1271 yards and 18TDs, while adding 54 receptions for 632 yards and 3TDs. In the year prior, he rushed for 1496 yards and 18TDs, while adding 28 receptions for 402 yards and 4TDs. He had over 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 51 offensive touchdowns during his three college seasons. Those are some incredible college numbers. Now, should he be drafted and valued at top 5 overall fantasy football start-up value? No. Absolutely do not spend more than you have to via trade or draft... that defeats the entire purpose here. The reason this prediction is bold is because he can be had at much lower value than top 5 overall value, yet he can soon be the best fantasy football player in the game. That's value. That is upside. If you draft him as a top 5 overall fantasy football player, or trade for him like one, you leave yourself no room for upside and value growth. I'm extremely excited about this kid's rise, and I think his combine/workouts could increase his ADP a ton, which will be unfortunate, but he still might not be ranked close to the levels in my prediction. So, upside should still be present even after good combine workouts. Let's hope! If you don't feel the same way about Barkley yet, or just haven't looked into this 2018 NFL Rookie Running Back class, I urge you to watch this attached video in its entirety.
(4/1/18) - Note so bold now, eh?
Written in 2017 | (11/15/2017) Patrick Mahomes is a player that was on the rise during the off-season, so much so many news wires were calling for a short leash on Alex Smith, who has since played amazing football. Now, there is no QB controversy right now. Unless Smith gets hurt this year, you probably won't hear anyone talk about Mahomes or his future in Kansas City, not this year anyway... Let's me honest, Smith is likely going to finish the year playing at great QB1 level... he's having that kind of year and is on an obvious wave that won't likely let up all season. This could spill into 2018, so that's the dilemma, as it means that Mahomes may not head into 2018 as the starter... but that's ok, I think his talent rises to the top in time. So why am I high on Mahomes at all from a dynasty perspective?
Well, first off, Smith has been in the league for 11 years now, so he's no spring chicken. On top of that, the thing that should be most shocking about that previous statement, Smith has never been amazing (at least anywhere near the level that he has been playing at so far in 2017) and he has had 11 seasons to do it (and hasn't). To me, this suggests that he isn't likely to have a handful more of these kinds of seasons, if even ever again, especially given he will be 34 by the start of next year. Look, Matt Ryan didn't drop amazing QB1 numbers for eight-straight seasons as a pro, then in year nine (last year), he puts up 4,944 passing yards and 38TDs. He was highly-ranked heading into this season (2017) due to that big year, and what does he do? He reverts back to not just mediocre, he's been borderline bad up until the last few weeks, and even then he's merely been solid, not anything close to his 2016 form. The point is, don't count on Smith (who, like Ryan, has never blown up before after almost a decade of play) to be a stud for multiple years in a row.
So again, what do I like about Patrick Mahomes? Everything. He scrambles, he is accurate, he looks down field like a veteran, which is always a good recipe for big fantasy scoring, and the guy makes plays. We may only have preseason games to go off of, sure, I get that players can look great in the preseason and struggle once plugged into real game situations, but when I watch this kid, I see elite skills and decision-making.
Want something bold? If Mahomes was used this year, I think fantasy worlds would be talking about him much like fantasy worlds are talking up both Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz right now.
In the second week of the preseason, Mahomes commanded the QB position well, completed 10-of-14 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns, adding three rushes for 29 yards. He showed accuracy in his debut, too, going 7-of-9 for 49 yards and a touchdown. In Week 4 of the preseason, he really showed his stuff... watch footage here... he scrambles, he shows his cannon of an arm, he throws amazingly-accurate on the run, the dude is legit and it's all in this footage... and right here is the scrambling ability and cannon in action while he's on the run.
Again, I realize these are preseason games, I get that... however, as I always say, you sometimes only need a small sample of work in order to see elite ability in a player, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. This kid has it and I really think he's going to be a star.
Buy-low now in dynasty, folks, while people are assuming his future won't ever get kick-started.
Updated: 4/1/2018 - This kid is the real deal. He has the size, speed and quickness, and most importantly, he is the kind of receiver that can dominate the space around him right out of the gate. I said this same thing about DeAndre Hopkins as a rookie, a player many struggled to rank atop his position for all incoming rookies. Sutton, like Hopkins, has incredible (innate) spacial awareness that you can't teach... natural domination of his surroundings. Even without looking at any numbers or stats, I see that 'it' factor with this rookie, and to me that's the one thing I have let guide me more than anything over the last 13 years... He's a playmaker and a total match-up nightmare for opposing defenses... He has a lot of Calvin Johnson to his game, but with a little Julio Jones mixed in... then mix in more speed and quickness. Yeah, that's how much I like this guy for the future (and I still see him flirting with low-end WR1 numbers as a rookie, at least by mid-season). At 6-4, 216-220 pounds, Sutton will likely step into the NFL as one of those receivers that needs almost no time at all to adapt, think Odell Beckham vs Dez Bryant (who needed his first two seasons to develop). In 2017, Sutton pulled in 68 balls for 1085 yards and 12TDs. Those aren’t the biggest numbers, sure, but he is consistent and produced 76/1246/10TDs the year prior. If you asked me, "Hey, Smitty... can you name three players that could be three of those 'once in a decade' types, who would you call out?" My answer without hesitation would be: Saquon Barkley and Courtland Sutton and Josh Allen. This may sound far outside the norm right now, but as we inch closer and closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, I'm starting to lean toward Courtland Sutton as my No. 2 overall 2018 rookie.
If you look through SleeperU's rankings often, you will have noticed that Anthony Miller (5-11/190 pounds) shot up the Rookie Rankings recently, as he now sits at #2 for all rookie receivers. The more I watch this guy on video, the more I see Antonio Brown 2.0... he has the quickness, the lateral shiftiness, the speed, the hands... he is a dynamic play maker that can knife through defensive lanes like an Antonio Brown. Like Brown, he is going to be tough to cover, and I think he matures rather fast at the next level. He's a bit of an older rookie, as he is 23, but he still has a 10 year window to dominate in the Pros, so don't let his 1-2 year age difference scare you off in dynasty. The year before this past season he pulled in 95/1434/14TDs (2016), and last year he pulled in a line of 92/1407/17TDs. He may start off rotating snaps in the slot, but talent rises, folks, and Allen Robinson is coming off a torn ACL and a year prior to that where he kind of busted. I actually like Allen, so I'm not suggesting he can't rebound to his old form, but changing teams isn't always smooth, and then there are the injury concerns... It just doesn't make for a situation that screams 'no opportunity' for guys like Anthony Miller. Give him a rookie season to flash some brilliance and look for him to bring some huge upside into 2019!
View his game footage here.
9. Sony Michel will be a top 5-10RB for the future, and top 10 in 2018.
Updated: 1/2018: Sony Michel (Georgia RB) was one of two amazing running backs running for Georgia. It's tough heading into an NFL Draft when you ran behind Nick Chubb, but Michel still figured out how to shine behind Chubb. Not many runners could look as good as Michel does heading into the 2018 NFL Draft given his situation at Georgia. How good did the guy do in his RBBC situation? Try 1,129 rushing yards (8.0) and 17 rushing/receiving TDs on for size. He only had 9 receptions, but he’s had 22 and 26 reception seasons at Georgia during previous seasons, so he can catch the football, he just wasn’t passed to often, and shared those receiving situations.
So, how good can Sony Michel be? Situation is going to be HUGE, because if a team doesn't draft him to start, or he gets drafted into a crowded situation, he will need to let talent eventually win out, which can take longer, but I'd full expect his talent to win out in most any situation. He is that skilled. My prediction is that he has such a great combine/workout, his value explodes and teams want this kid as their starter. So, he seems like a staple in early rookie-only mocks in that 4-7 overall range. That could change, unfortunately. If in the right spot, this would be my second-ranked rookie rusher from this 2018 NFL Rookie Class, only behind Saquon Barkley. Watch this game film below, folks. You will see a LeVeon Bell type rusher with speed that is unmatched. He has quickness and speed that matches anyone currently starting in the NFL... he had four multi-game touchdown games in 2017 (two 2TD games, one 3TD game and one 4TD game). The 4TD effort came in the Rose Bowl, where Michel was named the Rose Bowl’s offensive player of the game after rushing for a career-high 181 yards and three touchdowns (adding the additional fourth TD through the air). Here's that footage, footage that should change your mind if you're unaware or on the fence about his upside:
12. Kenyan Drake has top 5-10RB upside for 2018!
(12/13/2017) Kenyan Drake, a rookie in 2016, didn't land in an ideal spot initially. Drafted by the Dolphins, Drake was set to back-up the rising Jay Ajayi. Well, situations change fast in the NFL, and with Ajayi in Philly, Drake has found himself with a shot to start for the Dolphins moving forward. He is far from a lock to continue his strong play (the play he showed here in Weeks 14 and 15), but after two big games for the Dolphins in Weeks 14 (120/1TD and 3/21/0TDs) and Week 15 (114/0TDs and 5/79/0TDs), he's looking like near a sure bet to at least get starter touches for the remainder of the 2017 season. That means the spotlight is clearly on him. Miami has a history of not using the talent that they have at running back, so it's entirely possible they screw this up, but I can't lie... I'm getting that feeling that this kid is going to continue his fine play into 2018. Watch the footage below. Drake isn't just capitalizing on volume, he is a speedy back that knifes through rushing lanes like few veterans already playing in the NFL. He has great hands, and he is extremely tough to tackle. Speed, hands, shifty abilities, I think we have something special here, folks. In dynasty, buy low, but maybe attack him as an additional piece to a trade. Otherwise, red flags go up when you just inquire about one guy that is clearly on the rise. In redraft, expect his value to go up a ton heading into 2018 drafts, but if it's not value in the RB1 range, I think I'm still going to like his draft value even after it increases throughout all of early next off-season. For those still in your 2017 fantasy football playoffs, make sure you run Drake out onto the field in Weeks 15 and 16. Props to Whos_ur_Doggie and a few others here at SleeperU, as many have been big supporters of his for a bit now.
11. Christian Kirk is a future top 10WR in fantasy; #2 rookie WR in '18!
Updated: 2/2018: Christian Kirk is blazing fast. He runs a 4.3 forty, according to reports all around, but his quickness and shifty ability cannot be measured, only witnessed. When I watch this kid play, I see a ton of both Antonio Brown and TY Hilton. I think he has Brown-like power and spacial awareness, and he knifes through receiving lanes like Hilton. Calling him a future top 10 fantasy wide receiver, and the clear #2 rookie WR from this 2018 NFL Draft Class won't seem so bold after the combine and workouts. This could be a bummer, but know it now and stock up on your rookie draft picks so that you can control where this kid lands (on your squad!). The guy is 5-11, 200, but again has both size and speed, so I wouldn't conclude he's a smaller receiver (just watch the footage linked below, you won't see a small guy by any means). His college stats may not scream stud (919/10TDs, 928/9TDs and 1009/7TDs), but the talent is there, and he proved it in the Belk Bowl in his final college outing (13 receptions, 189 yards and 3TDs).
, which is shockingly from one single game, and I'm very confident that you will be more than excited to talk about his upside on our forums. This is about where I say, Get some!
Updated: 8/25/2018 - Both passers are extremely impressive, and Hill has come on strong over the last week. Folks, it sounds crazy, but either one of these guys could thrive if ever forced to start, and I'm honestly admitting I like both enough to toss them together in this prediction.
Written About Barrett 8/22/19: This passers is extra impressive, folks. I'd venture to say that almost no one knows about him in redraft formats, but I think you will find him available in 60-80% of all dynasty leagues. For now. Who is JT Barrett? He's 6-2, 220 pound back-up QB in New Orleans, and he's actually trying to climb into the #2 back-up role in NO. He has an amazing arm and play making ability, and he is embedded into an offense that has a bright future and a ton of potential scoring. Alvin Kamara, Mike Thomas, Mark Ingram... Drew Brees is no spring chicken and there is reason to think he could miss games here and there. Get ready for this kid to shine if/once he gets a start or two. He won't unseat a healthy Brees, but if forced to start some games this year, he could make the team realize he's the for sure future of this passing attack. It could take 1 year, it could take 2... it could take 3. That is up to Brees, and Barrett will certainly need some action in order to impress.
<blockquote>Stats: In 2017 at OSU, Barrett posted these stats: 3054/35TDs, with 798 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.</blockquote>
… you heard me right, 798 rushing yards in 2017 at OSU. His previous 3 seasons he rushed for 845/9TDs, 682/11TDs and an unbelievable 938/11TDs back in 2014. The kid is electric.
This one is deep, and of course there is some risk if you invest heavily. But, you shouldn't have to, no one knows who he is unless you follow college football very closely, which a lot of fantasy football owners do not. Grab him now in all dynasty formats, he was available in several of mine, I'd say about half of my 6 keeper/dynasty leagues. There is something really special about passer, folks. I hope he gets a shot to showcase his ability.