Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so some people say. The fine folks at RotoViz have been rolling out a “Bold Predictions” series. … In their bold predictions series a number of their writers have provided a list of their top ten bold predictions for the upcoming fantasy season.
Not only is it a fantastic series and a lot of fun to read, but most of the predictions make you think. And when it comes to fantasy analysis you want to be challenged in your beliefs. Well, not all people feel that way. Some just want you to validate their already preconceived notions. However, if you’re into fantasy analysis that is against the grain you should read all the RotoViz bold predictions to date.
We here at TwoQBs have imitated their series to a smaller scale and have asked each of our writers for one bold prediction for the 2016 fantasy season. Hope your keyboard doesn’t melt.
TwoQBs.com 2016 Bold Predictions
T.J. Yeldon will finish 2016 as a top-15 fantasy running back in PPR formats.
Jacksonville faces a tougher schedule than many realize and opposing defenses should key in on 2015 standout Allen Robinson. If the strength of opposing teams again forces the Jaguars into negative game scripts, short and intermediate passing routes to Yeldon and Julius Thomas should become the bread and butter of their offense. If Chris Ivory, never the ideal picture of health, wears down as he often has in the past, Yeldon could add early-down opportunities to his already-full workload in passing situations. That sounds like a recipe for this year’s Devonta Freeman to me.
Matthew Stafford is a Top-12 QB in 2016.
We all fear the unknown, and the Lions without Calvin Johnson present a mystery. Although we don’t know precisely how they’ll look, I think we can draw a few reasonable conclusions. Passing volume is one of the most consistent stats year-to-year, and I expect Detroit to throw often again. Matthew Stafford has been among the top passers in the league, in terms of attempts, for years now. High volume is a good start, then Stafford needs good weapons and good luck. I think the weapons in Detroit are undersold right now. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, Eric Ebron, and Ameer Abdullah look like a deep set for Stafford. As for luck/variance, this team looks far more set in the passing game than the running game. Perhaps Abdullah or Zach Zenner step up, but I think it’s possible the team relies heavily on the passing game, leading to good TD numbers for Stafford. My bold prediction: it all comes together to mean a top-12 season for the Lions’ quarterback.
Tyrod Taylor will score more fantasy points than Cam Newton on the ground.
Last year, Newton ran for 636 yards and 10 TDs, good for 123.6 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Taylor ran for 568 and four TDs in just 14 games (80.8 points). I’m not necessarily expecting a massive TD spike for Taylor, but he has the potential to way out-gain Newton as a runner, and it wouldn’t shock me if he was the first 1,000 yard rusher at quarterback since Michael Vick in 2006. Taylor receives plenty of designed runs, and the Bills should be playing from behind a lot this year, which means more dropbacks and potential scrambles for the former Hokie who ran a 4.47 at the Combine in 2011.
Kirk Cousins and Tyrod Taylor both finish as overall top-7 fantasy QBs at the end of the year.
I wrote up why Kirk Cousins has top-five upside earlier in the offseason, but many forget he already finished as the overall QB8 last season. Including Andy Dalton’s QB6 finish back in 2013, Gruden has helped produce the fantasy QB6 and QB8 the last two seasons he worked with a full 16-game starter. Washington has a questionable defense and a questionable run game. Kirk Cousins will be throwing a lot in 2016 and I love his weapons in Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Chris Thompson.
Meanwhile, Tyrod Taylor finished 2015 as the overall QB7 in points per game once his two games missed due to injury are factored in. The Bills defense is a mess right now with significant injuries to first and second round picks Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland. Plus Marcell Dareus, one of the Bills’ best defensive players, is suspended for the first four games of the season. I have a feeling TyGod will throw the ball more in 2016. Combine that with his tantalizing rushing upside and you have something special in 2016.
Tom Brady will finish outside the top-12 quarterbacks in points per game.
Deflategate v1.1 has distracted everyone from the fact Brady played out of his shoes in 2015. He posted his highest adjusted yards per attempt since 2011. Plus, the Patriots were the pass-happiest team in the league after we account for game script, and it wasn’t even close. I don’t expect either of those factors carry over into 2016. With a smorgasbord of high-scoring QBs ready to supplant Tom Terrific, he’ll have a tough time returning to QB1 status.
Sam Bradford will finish as a top-24 fantasy QB in terms of points per game.
With a sneakily talented defense and a head coach who knows less is more from quarterbacks with Bradford’s skill set, the Eagles signal caller can become one of 2016’s biggest bargains. Going as QB29 in our current ADP, it’s possible Bradford delivers a more reasonable return on investment after the lofty expectations of playing in Chip Kelly’s offense had him drafted as a QB1 last August.
Aiding Bradford is a relatively soft schedule again (12th-easiest according to FFtoolbox), a head coach who prioritizes QB play, and the fact he has more job security than they want us to think. Carson Wentz’s rib injury means if the Eagles are serious about protecting their franchise quarterback, they will wait till he’s more than 100% before they even consider playing him. I can’t see Bradford playing his way out of the starting job either, when last year he actually wasn’t terrible the final eight weeks of the season. From Week 9 on, he threw for 20 more yards and scored 20 fantasy points per game.
Sam Bradford’s worst enemy is his health. With a more sound running game and conventional offense, I’m banking on a Bradford rebound season.
Ryan Tannehill finishes as a QB3 and replaces Alex Smith as the “Alex Smith archetype” in the NFL.
A few factors come into play here:
- Poor Offensive Line – I spent a morning at Miami training camp in early August and the most glaring thing I saw was how quickly the OL was beaten off the snap, time and time again. Tannehill faced instant pressure on the majority of his dropbacks, and either had to scuttle the play or dump it off.
- Reliance on low-aDOT, low-YAC throws – While I believe Adam Gase is a “good thing” for Tannehill long-term, I believe he will frequently bail out on plays to find the easy target (Jarvis Landry, Arian Foster) rather than the right target (Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Leonte Carroo). This will suppress his yardage and ability to move the chains.
- Inability to complete deep passes – While he does appear to have improved in this regard, I don’t believe he can consistently succeed on deep throws. This will lead to defenses edging closer to the line of scrimmage and constricting the space around his favorite short routes.
Robert Griffin III aka the artist formerly known as RG3 will start all 16 games of the regular season and finish the season as a top-five fantasy quarterback.
Harking back to his rookie season, RG3 scored 317.50 fantasy points and was the QB5 in 14 full starts. His 815 rushing yards led the league and only Cam Newton (8) scored more rushing touchdowns than RG3 that year (7). RG3 has looked spry this offseason and his long bomb game is on point. Surrounded by a talented supporting cast like he was in Washington and under the tutelage of Hue Jackson, RG3 will easily outproduce his QB28 draft day cost and then some. RG3’s connection with Terrelle Pryor will see the former quarterback-now-wide receiver put up his own WR1 (top-12) fantasy season, which will in turn finally lead @CDCarter13 to delete his account since he will have nothing left to rise up and grind up for.
Pittsburgh defense will be a QB streamer’s delight.
Last year Pittsburgh’s defense allowed QBs (on average) to score 3.412 DraftKings points higher than their season finish average points per game. This secondary attempted to improve by adding a first round draft pick in cornerback Artie Burns. However, Burns has yet to move up the depth chart and is currently listed as their seventh CB. I predict the Steelers defense will be the top target for streaming QBs and will yet again allow quarterbacks to score more points over their PPG averages than any other defense in the league.
I’ve already gone on the record that Ryan Tannehill can finish the season as a fantasy QB1 and that Chip Kelly can turn Blaine Gabbert into a fantasy QB2. Not hot-taeky enough for you? Okay, how about if I said Brock Osweiler reminds me of 2015 Blake Bortles, right down to their ADPs?
Playing with weapons in the form of Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins and under an extremely quarterback-friendly coach makes Osweiler a mammoth upgrade over Brian Hoyer and the rest of the quarterbacks Houston started last year. He should finish the season no worse than a mid-range QB as he replaces the mixed bag of awful they trotted out in 2015.