Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 1
You ever drink hot sauce and beer at the same time? Neither have I. But it does seem bold.
Not to be confused with baldness, boldness would be sporting a mohawk at the ripe-young age of 75. In an unrealistic football analogy, boldness would be trading the best receiver in football for a washed-up running back with a huge contract. Ehhh, no one would be that stup...oh, nevermind.
You want to see boldness?
Cam Newton looks like a woman who has lost several husbands under "mysterious circumstances" pic.twitter.com/U2MSUWHAKf
— husky dave grohl (@saulmalone) September 8, 2019
Now that's bold.
For this article, we'll focus the boldness on fantasy football. Think of this piece like Taco Tuesday -- it's better when it's spicy, but the spiciness is not what it's all about, it's there to add flavor. The point here is not to hit on 100% of the predictions, after all, I'm not a vomiting hippo. The goal here is to uncover insights that can help us win some dough in fantasy.
Now, let's go drink a bottle of Tabasco.
(All predictions are for half-PPR, and Yahoo scoring for quarterbacks.)
1. Cam Newton Finishes as a Top-3 Quarterback
When healthy, few signal-callers have higher fantasy upside than Newton -- as evidenced by the fact that he's been a top-four fantasy finisher in half of his healthy seasons in the league.
The 31-year-old will now get to play in the offense of Josh McDaniels, one of the most innovative minds that the league has to offer. The New England Patriots have every incentive to go the most out of Newton, as the compensatory pick they'd get for him if he signed a big contract elsewhere next year would be quite high. And we all know how much Bill Belichick loves his comp picks.
Now, let's talk about the matchup. Because oh boy is it a doozy. Newton gets to feast on the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. Yum.
Last season, Miami surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, on the back of allowing 14 quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns and 9 passers to total at least 260 passing yards. As an added bonus, they also allowed three rushing scores to the position. Miami's Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) of 205.75 was worst in the league, and 46.7 points higher than the second-worst team.
Like most of Cam's outfits, be bold and fire him up in Week 1.
2. Jimmy G Posts the Highest Fantasy-Point Total of his Career
In Yahoo scoring, Jimmy Garoppolo's three highest fantasy-point totals of his career are 31.7, 29.1, and 28.9. Two of those three came in his two matchups with the Arizona Cardinals last season -- the very same Cardinals that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.
Last year, six quarterbacks managed at least 3 passing scores against Arizona, eight threw for more than 315 yards (six had more than 350), and the team only recorded 7 interceptions. Like Miami, Arizona added some intriguing pieces on that side of the ball, but it would be unwise to expect a worst-to-first turnaround.
The San Francisco 49ers come in with the third-highest implied total on the slate, so it's not hard to envision Jimmy G posting some gaudy stats. And the fact that Arizona has an explosive offense means that this could turn into a shootout -- that's an added bonus for Garoppolo.
3. Laviska Shenault Leads the Jags in Rushing Yards
Due to injuries (tanking) and roster (tanking) decisions, the Jacksonville (tanking) Jaguars are extremely thin at running back. In an effort to get younger (tank), the team released former fourth overall selection Leonard Fournette. His expected replacement, Ryquell Armstead, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The next man up, Devine Ozigbo, was placed on reserve/injured list. That leaves undrafted rookie James Robinson as the team's (tanking) starting running back.
That's where rookie wideout Laviska Shenault comes in. Shenault was an exciting player coming out of Colorado, and there's been some teasing going on about his potential role to start the season. Here's a reminder, Shenault is no stranger to handling the ball out of the backfield.
It wouldn't surprise me if the 2020 second-round pick led the Jaguars in rushing in the season opener.
4. DeSean Jackson Finishes as a WR1
Those who roster DeSean Jackson in fantasy could not have asked for a better situation in Week 1. DJax will be in a position to turn back the clock as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Football Team.
DJax finished as the WR2 in the opener last year, I could see him posting similar results on Sunday.
5. Derrick Henry Places Outside the Top-24 at the Running Back Position
According to Pro Football Focus, the league's top interior run-defender in 2019 was Mike Purcell -- he happens to play for the Denver Broncos. The NFL's 14th-ranked interior run-defender was Jurrell Casey -- he now also plays for the Broncos. The league's 46th-ranked interior run-defender was Shelby Harris -- can you guess who he plays for? At linebacker, Denver trots out Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell -- the former ranked first among linebackers against the run last year while the latter's grade against the run would've ranked third had he qualified.
In short, the Broncos are going to be good against the run.
Derrick Henry found that out the hard way last year, when he floundered for 28 rushing yards on 15 carries for an I-want-to-gouge-my-eyes-out 1.9 yards per carry.
In half-PPR leagues, Henry finished as a top-24 back in 12 of his 15 games last season. He could make that 0-for-1 to start 2020.