It is time for my bold predictions!
Each prediction hits on a different position (and two on running backs) and some are well…pretty bold. Read below to see who I think will supplant himself as a start-able QB while currently being drafted in the teens, how I see the top five RBs drafted right now will fare this season, who I think makes a big leap into the top 15 at the WR position, which TE continues to roll, and who my biggest bust candidate for 2016 is…(again). Enjoy!
1. Tyrod Taylor Becomes a “Must-Start” Fantasy QB and Finishes as a Top 7 Quarterback
If Sammy Watkins returns fully healthy for the season, the rest of the NFL better watch out because over the last six weeks of the 2015 season, there was no deadlier connection than Tyrod Taylor to Watkins. Taylor excels at the long ball and Watkins has the speed and hands to track down any ball near him. You might not have heard, but Taylor was ninth in fantasy points per game amongst QBs last season and recorded at least 15 fantasy points in 10 of the 14 games he played in. What’s great about Taylor is that he is one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks in the league right now, right next to Newton and Wilson. With 568 rushing yards (2nd most among QBs) and 4 Rushing TDs (4th most), Taylor offers enough points on the ground to give owners a very safe floor. And while his floor his high, so is his ceiling, as he recorded over 20 fantasy points six different times last year. Also, if he had played in all 16 games with his average fantasy points per game, he would have finished as the, wait for it, seventh highest scoring QB in fantasy, just ahead of Aaron Rodgers.
2. The Top 5 RBs Going in Drafts (Gurley, D. Johnson, Peterson, Elliott, Miller) all Finish in the Top 10
2015 was a horrific year for running backs. Of the five most sought after RBs a season ago (Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson), only Peterson finished as an RB1, or even a top 25 RB. Most were plagued with annoying injuries like Lynch while others were sidelined for the year in cases like Charles and Bell. Lacy, on the other hand, was just downright ineffective. However, in 2016, I believe RBs flip the script and prove that they can be reliable fantasy commodities. In a fantasy world where WRs are taking over the first round and usually the first three overall picks, look for more running backs to prove their worth and more specifically, the top crop of RBs like Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Lamar Miller to be great fantasy plays each and every week.
3. Donte Moncrief Finishes as a Top 15 WR and a Consistent Week-to-Week WR2
Moncrief might be just the second option for Andrew Luck behind TY Hilton, but that does’t make him any less of a huge breakout candidate. Going off draft boards in the eight or ninth round on average as the WR29 (on NFL.com) is criminal. Many may be scared of the Colts offense in general after last year’s debacle, but Luck is now fully healthy and that’s pretty much all the skill players like Moncrief need to produce. Luck is a year removed from throwing for 40 touchdowns and over 4,700 yards. If Luck channels that same prowess behind center as he had in his first three years in the league, Moncrief could have a huge impact. If Luck does throw for another 40 TDs, which is a possibility, Moncrief could be affected the most due to his elite size and red zone skills. Even in a season where Luck had just 15 touchdowns and was playing injured most of the time, Moncrief still had five touchdowns in the seven games Luck did play in. That’s double digit touchdowns paced out over a full season. I could easily see him having a 2015 Allen Hurns type of season with almost 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns, good for the WR14 of 2015.
4. Jordan Reed Plays in 15 Games and Finishes within 10 Fantasy Points of Rob Gronkowski
If you haven’t heard by now, Jordan Reed gets hurt…a lot. He has missed a combined 14 games over his first three years in the league and seems to always be out as soon as Sunday comes. However, when he does play, he produces like a top tier TE, in the same stratosphere as, dare I say, Rob Gronkowski. Just last year, Reed finished as the TE2, 26 fantasy points behind Gronk for first place. Reed, did indeed miss two games, so that lead could have been cut down considerably. So, my bold prediction here is that Reed will play in 15 games this season (most in his career) and be neck and neck with Gronk for the duration of the season. I could’ve said Reed would leapfrog Gronk for the top TE position but that seems a little far-fetched since he has been the pinnacle of the position for the past five years. Anyway, that doesn’t take anything away from Reed, who has cemented himself as an elite tight end after catching 87 balls for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.
5. The Biggest Bust of 2016 is…Eddie Lacy again!?!?!
Eddie Lacy let down a lot of owners last season after being a consensus top four pick in fantasy drafts and failing to finish as a top 25 RB. Lacy was not serious and let himself go, as I am sure you have heard numerous jokes about his weight by now, hurting his overall numbers and position as the lead back in Green Bay. Many have come to his defense and pointed out that Jordy Nelson’s absence and limited volume were also to blame for Lacy’s ineffectiveness. While this could be true, that does not ease my worries about him as an elite back. There is no guarantee that Nelson rebounds into the player he once was or even lasts the entire season. And with that said, truly elite backs do not need a game-changing wideout drawing attention (Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley) or even a large amount of volume (David Johnson, Lamar Miller). Therefore, wasting a second round pick on someone who appears to be a little slimmer does not justify his current ADP. Lacy will need to do prove a lot and become insanely effective to become a top 10 or even top 15 running back this year.