Last year’s predictions had some big winners, a couple tough luck losers, not to mention a handful of “what the hell was I thinking” fortunes that I told all wrong. I won’t get them all right this year either, but I’d like to think my waterfall of fantasy fodder will get you on the right track for your drafts, seasonal trade value, and possibly even a date with that girl that works at Victoria Secret. The brunette. As goes, I’ll spout off some claim, maybe even a sentence explaining why I think this, and will review the whole thing later in the year to see how it all went. All four of the writers doing work on this site will do an article similar to this, and in the end we’ll see who is the sharpest beach ball of them all. Let the games begin!
1. When Maurice Jones-Drew straps up his helmet this season he’ll get 5-10 more touches per game. According to Josh Arsenault’s “Value of Opportunity” article that means big things for MJD. How big? Try 1800+ total yards and 14+ TDs for one of the game’s most explosive players.
2. Through one game last season, Nate Burleson was on pace to have 900+ yards and 80 catches. He’ll get close to that this season, despite being TJ Housh’s sidekick for the Seattle Seahawks. How close? Lets say 70 grabs and 900 yards, plus at least 6 touchdowns. Not a bad output for a guy rarely getting picked before Round 14, if at all.
3. Last year, Donnie Avery posted 53 receptions, 674 yards, and 3 scores for the Rams. He’ll double that last total, while finishing with at least 70 grabs and 850 yards.
4. Two of the following four quarterbacks will fail to play 12 games this year: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and Big Ben Roethlisberger. O-line questions, style of play observations, interesting coaching decisions, and some bad freaking luck will likely play a role.
5a. If Daunte Culpepper gets the job out of camp, he’ll throw more than 20 touchdowns in 2009.
5b. If Matthew Stafford gets the gig out of camp, he’ll throw for less than 15.
6. At least two of these guys will be in the top 5 in rushing yards this season: LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Ryan Grant.
7. There is a business like show business – it’s called professional sports.
8. The last time Tony Gonzalez had less than 73 catches was 2002 and that was the only time that happened in the last 10 years. He’ll have fewer catches this season.
9. Reggie Bush will end up having more fantasy points than Pierre Thomas, despite getting drafted after him in almost every single draft. Many forget that Reggie played in only 10 games (2 of which he barely played in) and he still finished with over 800 total yards and 6 TDs.
10. Matt Hasselbeck is moving up my rankings based on his strength and accuracy thus far in the pre-season. He’ll finish as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback this year.
11. Trent Edwards also has seen a boost. It’s just the pre-season, I know, but I see him being a Top 20 guy, easily.
12. When are people going to recognize Eddie Royal? This kid is going to be special. In his second season he’ll improve on his 91 catches, 980 yards, and five touchdowns. Yes, that means he’ll be even better without Cutler, folks.
13. Last year was amazing for DeAngelo Williams. First the Panthers draft Jon Stewart in the 1st round, then Williams turns into the best fantasy running back in the league. Not a fluke, the guy is a very smart runner. He won’t match his TDs from last season, but his rushing yardage will shoot over the 1500 yard mark once again.
14. Everybody and their mother thinks Ronnie Brown is overrated going into 2009 because “half his points came in one game, blah, blah, blah”. What a joke. The fat lady hasn’t even written a song for this kid yet, he’s going to tear it up in the AFC East this season. Halfway through his 7th game in 2007, Brown was just 9 yards short of 1000 from scrimmage with 5 touchdowns. He was the only offensive threat on the field and he was still rushing for over 5 yards per carry. He’s a beast. He’s fully healthy and more than a year removed from his knee injury. This will easily be his best season. I predict over 1400 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns from the 27 year old with very few miles on his tires.
15. Speaking of the fat lady, these old guys aren’t dead yet: Each player, despite their avg. draft slot, will have solid years. Torry Holt (35th WR), Terrell Owens (12th WR), Clinton Portis (14th RB) (only 28 this season, but an OLD 28), and LT (7th RB) should all be good. At least 3 of the 4 will will finish above their average draft slot ranking.
16. Youth Movement? Not this year, not for rookies anyway. After 4 rookie running backs finished in the top 20 in total rushing yards last season (3 in the Top 10), no more than one rookie will match that mark this season (none in the Top 10).
17. Julius Jones is getting picked late. Probably even later than he was before Edgerrin James got swooped up by the Hawks. But Jones will still be the man in Seattle, and that zone blocking scheme should be a good one for his Irish style. He once had 1084 rushing yards for the Cowboys and 4 touchdowns. I’m saying he finishes with more yards and scores than he did during his best season with Dallas. In fact, I’m willing to suggest he has 8 touchdowns or more in 2009.
18. There are 25 running backs getting picked ahead of Darren McFadden. He out produces at least half of those guys, and makes it into the Top 12 this season. He’s moving up my board!
19. Brandon Jacobs finishes the season with more carries and yards than he ever has in his career. Oh, and he at least matches those 15 scores from a season ago. That offensive line is beastly.
20. What does Dallas do with all those TO targets this season? Roy Williams? Sure, Roy will get more targets, but a lot of those TO touches are going to Felix Jones. That means he’ll be much better than his average draft position. His ADP is 36, he’ll be top 20.
21. People are drafting Vincent Jackson as if he will get the same numbers he got last season. So, a couple picks ahead of that, you should grab him. He will have better totals across the board, catches, yardage, touchdowns.
22. Mark Sanchez (the rookie that was “not ready for the NFL” according to the “brilliant” Coach Carol at USC) will win at least 8 games as the Jets starting signal caller this season.
23. Steve Slaton will outscore every sophomore running back not named Matt Forte. That’s right, those in love with McFadden’s upside, Chris Johnson’s speed, Kevin Smith, and Jon Stewart’s all around tools, Slaton is the guy I see being a stud this season.
24. Tim Hightower will be a better fantasy back than Beanie Wells – especially in PPR leagues. Beanie can’t catch. Beanie gets hurt. Tim isn’t my fave, not at all, but his fantasy stats will be better than the Cardinals’ first round pick’s numbers.
25. The San Diego Chargers’ defense will once again be a Top 5 fantasy unit.
26. Anquan Boldin > Roddy White (fantasy points).
27. Derrick Ward, often drafted as the 37th RB overall. He’ll be at least 10 spots higher than that on the end-of-season running back rankings.
28. Mark Sanchez gets drafted ahead of Matt Hasselbeck in most fantasy leagues. I promise Matt will be better than Mark, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt doubles Mark in touchdowns. Shoot, right it down.
29. Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, and Jason Witten will all finish ahead of Tony Gonzalez in the TE rankings.
30. Anthony Gonzalez, Eddie Royal, along with Vincent and DeSean Jackson will all have more fantasy points than Braylon Edwards this season.
That’s it, as promised, I’m first: 3 more prediction sessions on the way before the season begins…