The first Sunday of the season is upon us at freaking last. Here’s a bold fantasy prediction on every team for the upcoming season, some quick Week 1 names to remember and my All Breakout and All Sleeper teams for the year.
We all know about Dak, Dez and Zeke. Next year, the name “Rico” will be right there with them when discussing Dallas’ top weapons. His name won’t be back on the radar until he returns after eight weeks on IR – the result of a bad preseason concussion – but Gathers will still finish second on the team in touchdown receptions as one of the most impossible covers in football.
New York Giants
With so many receiving weapons drawing defensive attention and media headlines, Paul Perkins will have one of the quietest seasons of 1,200-plus scrimmage yards in recent memory.
Carson Wentz takes the next step forward in Year 2, exploding for 4,500-plus passing yards while the Philly ground game struggles.
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The Redskins have the receiving talent to be among the league’s elite passing attacks, but their ground game will get the bigger breakout star after Samaje Perine steals the starting job and rumbles for over 1,000 yards and double-digit scores.
Julio Jones and the stud running backs pile up the yards between the 20’s. In the red zone, however, Austin Hooper steals the show and leads the team in receiving TD’s.
Challenging for fantasy MVP, Kelvin Benjamin goes bananas as he tops 1,400 yards and leads the league in receiving scores.
New Orleans Saints
Because Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram combine for over 1,800 rushing yards, Drew Brees throws for less than 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns, something he has not done in a Saints uniform.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shrugging off the criticism that his time in Tampa Bay should be over, Doug Martin totes the rock for over 1,200 rushing yards in 12 games after his suspension ends, showcasing the same vision, bounce and burst that has allowed him to produce two seasons over 1,400 yards on the ground.
Refusing to be a bust, Kevin White gets pissed and translates his overwhelming size and athleticism into confidence, becomes a bright spot playmaker for a bad Bears offense and churns out 1,000-plus yards on 70 catches.
Finally taking the step from a reliable fantasy receiver to an elite one, Golden Tate breaks through the touchdown wall that’s capped his upside for years, finishing with over 90 grabs, 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Green Bay Packers
A fluid, natural runner with vision, balance and explosive acceleration, Ty Montgomery brings huge balance to the league’s best offense while piling up over 1,600 scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Stefon Diggs easily eclipses 1,000 yards, but after their Week 9 bye Michael Floyd leads the team in receiving while also becoming a fantasy playoffs hero.
Desperate for receiving depth, Arizona finally deploys the massive 6-foot-6, 270-pound Troy Niklas, their second-round pick in 2014, and the hulking tight end cashes in with over 800 yards and eight scores.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff makes big improvements, Todd Gurley has a bounce-back season, but the team’s offensive MVP goes to rookie wideout Cooper Kupp, who explodes for 80-plus catches and 1,000-plus yards to lead all rookies in both categories.
San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde becomes Kyle Shanahan’s bigger version of Devonta Freeman, producing over 1,500 scrimmage yards and double-digit scores while looking every bit the part of a sure bet to do it again next year.
Written off by most because he loves to stuff his face, Eddie Lacy returns to stuffing box scores, rumbling for over 1,000 yards and 10-plus total scores. Meanwhile, C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson make significant contributions for one of the league’s premier backfields while Thomas Rawls is traded for a late round draft pick.
Nathan Peterman is handed the keys to the tanker truck that is the Buffalo Bills, but to management’s disappointment wins a couple late games while throwing for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in just eight games.
The power run game is not Miami’s calling card this year, since a revitalized Jay Cutler and porous defense won’t allow it. The big beneficiary is DeVante Parker, who fulfills the preseason hype with over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
New England Patriots
Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski pace the offense in yardage, but Mike Gillislee leads the team AND the league in touchdowns, exceeding 20 rushing scores to make the majority of fantasy owners like Bill Belichick even less.
New York Jets
The 2017 New York Jets score more than 20 touchdowns for the season (aided by their defense) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins leads the team with seven of them.
Lamar Miller’s struggles extend to his second season in Houston as the passing attack continues to allow defenses to focus on stopping the run. The result becomes an almost even timeshare with D’Onta Foreman, who ultimately leads the team in touchdowns while tallying more than 800 scrimmage yards.
Andrew Luck flips a big fat bird to the fantasy community and general media folk that buried his season because a shoulder that needed a few extra weeks to get right. Shaking off a slow start he throws for 25 touchdowns in just the final 10 games. Bonus call: Frank Gore stiffs arms his replacements to the bench for another season of over 1,000 scrimmage yards, living up to his reputation as the ultimate fantasy zombie. Dude just won’t die.
Runaway locomotive Leonard Fournette doles out several concussions with his epic stiff arm, but stymied by an offense that struggles to open up running lanes or scare defenses with the pass, he fails to top 800 yards on the ground despite looking heroic in his efforts.
Aided by a loaded supporting cast of weapons, Marcus Mariota makes the predictable breakthrough to superstardom while his leading receiver unpredictably remains exactly the same. Rishard Matthews stunts the progression of Corey Davis to the team’s No. 1 target by topping 80 catches, 1,000 yards and repeating 2016’s surprising nine scores. Eventually fantasy owners figure out he’s basically a bigger Doug Baldwin and adjust accordingly.
Instead of leading the NFL in pass attempts like they have each of the last two years, Baltimore leans on a ground game sparked by Terrance West, finishing top 10 in rushing attempts, with West notching over 250 of them en route to his first 1,000-yard campaign.
Joe Mixon gives the Bengals coaching staff Jeremy Hill amnesia, making the “starting” running back a ghost by Week 3 before tearing the league a new one on his way to over 1,800 scrimmage yards.
Buoyed by a Josh Gordon reinstatement, DeShone Kizer destroys the pre-draft and preseason narrative that he’s “not ready” by throwing for over 4,000 yards, setting the rookie passing touchdown record with 28 scoring strikes, and cashing in an Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The holdout makes many fantasy owners’ worst nightmare come true when Le’Veon Bell is done for the year by Week 4. James Conner owners rejoice when the bruising bully of a back punishes defenses afraid of Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, piling up over 1,200 scrimmage yards to save the day for Pittsburgh.
The crowded backfield never uncrowds, much to the dismay of Broncos tailback owners, but a Trevor Siemian rise rewards those who invested in Denver wideouts. In his second year as a starter, the poor man’s Andy Dalton reaches 4,000 yards and 25 TD’s passing.
Kansas City Chiefs
With the exceptional versatility of talents surrounding him, Alex Smith emphatically puts Patrick Mahomes in a corner for the next two years by playing near flawless football en route to his first 4,000-yard season.
Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrell Williams subscribers are saddened when not only does Keenan Allen last 16 games unscathed, but he also leads the league with a crazy 124 receptions.
Amari Cooper. Marshawn Lynch. Michael Crabtree. Cordarrelle Patterson? So many weapons for Oakland and yet it’s Patterson that leads the team in touchdowns. Their most versatile playmaker, in a new environment the former first-round pick has a season reminiscent of his promising rookie campaign, scoring as a receiver, runner and returner.
Week 1 Surprisers
- Josh McCown & Robby Anderson
- DeShone Kizer & Jared Goff
- Cooper Kupp & Marquise Goodwin
- Lance Kendricks & Ifeanyi Momah
- Tarik Cohen & D’Onta Foreman
All Breakout Team (requirement: non-rookie)
QB – Carson Wentz
RB – Ty Montgomery
RB – Mike Gillislee
WR – DeVante Parker
WR – Kevin White
WR – Jamison Crowder
TE – Austin Hooper
All Sleeper Team (requirement: late round ADP)
QB – DeShone Kizer
RB – James Conner
RB – Wendell Smallwood
WR – Cordarrelle Patterson
WR – Cooper Kupp
WR – Marquise Goodwin
TE – Austin Seferian-Jenkins
For any comments, mockery or questions, tweet at me: @Hoover_L_A