Trying to predict the future is hard, especially when it comes to fantasy football, but extremely fun at the same time. But it can also be supremely frustrating. So why do it at all?
Well if you are reading this, you love making predictions. That’s what fantasy football is all about. We all look into our own crystal ball to see which players are going to breakout or be a complete bust and we draft our team accordingly.
Unfortunately more times than not, we’re wrong. But when we’re right, it’s glorious. But sometimes you really have to go out on a limb. So with that in mind, here are 10 bold fantasy football predictions for 2015.
1. Adrian Peterson will score the most fantasy points
The last time Peterson had such a large chip on his shoulder he was coming off a torn ACL and everyone was doubting him, saying that he was coming back too early and that he would never be the same again.
That was back in 2012 and all Peterson did was almost set the single-season rushing record, as he ran for 2,097 yards and scored 12 TDs on the ground. Oh and he also added 40 catches for 217 yards and a score, making him a beast in PPR leagues too.
Fast-forward to 2015 and after Peterson basically took a year off (I’m not going to get into it), he is once again facing the doubters who say that he has lost a step since he is now 30 years old. But this year will be the first season that Peterson is actually featured in coordinator Norv Turner’s offense and the sky is the limit for Peterson.
All-Day is going to challenge Jeremy Hill (see below) for the rushing title and don’t be surprised when he finishes the season with more than 50 receptions and 400 yards receiving. Oh and chalk up about 15 total TDs too.
2. Jeremy Hill will lead the league is rushing
Raise your hand if you thought that DeMarco Murray would lead the NFL in rushing last year? That’s right – no one saw that coming. Hill burst onto the scene last year when starter Giovani Bernard got hurt. Seizing the opportunity, Hill averaged 103.2 yards rushing per game and 5.4 yards per carry over the Bengals’ last nine regular season games, scoring six TDs over that stretch and nine on the season.
Hill is now the unquestioned bell-cow in an offense led by coordinator Hue Jackson, who loves to pound the ball. Plus, wide receiver A.J. Green is now 100 percent healthy and so is tight end Tyler Eiffert, meaning defenses won’t be able to stack the box to slow Hill down. Hill is going to rush for more 1,500 yards this year and score 10-plus TDs. If you can get him in the second round you should thank your lucky stars.
3. Aaron Rodgers will finish the year as the No. 3 fantasy football quarterback
Blasphemy! Not really – hear me out. This is all due to the loss of Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL for the entire 2015 season. Nelson’s loss means second-year wide receiver Davante Adams (and others) need to step up big time.
It’s true that Rodgers (much like Peyton Manning) elevates anyone he plays with to superstar status and Adams will probably finish the season as a top-15 WR. However, until Adams proves himself, defenses probably won’t shade his way like they did last season when Nelson was running routes. This means more coverage underneath where Randall Cobb makes his living. This also means more check downs, which increases the fantasy potential of tight end Richard Rodgers, but lowers Rodgers’ ceiling.
In all probability the Packers will become more of a balanced offence and lean on Eddie Lacy in the running game. This might not be a good idea as Lacy has a concussion history and losing him even for a couple of games would really slow down Rodgers and the offense. Plus Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger will be airing it out this year to better targets operating from more wide-open offenses. Yes, the Seahawks are going to lean more of Wilson this year than Marshawn Lynch. Also you can never count out Drew Brees and Peyton Manning from fighting for the No. 2 spot behind presumed position leader Andrew Luck.
4. Carson Palmer will be a top-8 fantasy QB this year
Injury limited Palmer to just six starts last year. But he was 6-0 in those starts and if you project that out to a full season the Cardinals would have finished 16-0. Okay, probably not, but Palmer’s stats projected over an entire season would have looked something like 29 TDs and 4,300 passing yards. Not bad numbers for a guy who is currently being drafted as a QB22.
The Cardinals will be a very good team again in 2015. Palmer has solid veteran receiving targets in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd (who should be ready to go for week 1). Plus, Palmer has an emerging star to throw the ball to in John Brown, who some have compared to Marvin Harrison and is almost on everyone’s top-10 sleeper list this year.
It’s true that Palmer now has the “injury-prone” label attached to his name, but it’s fair to note that he has started all 16 regular season games six times in his career. He’s a savvy vet that has amazing upside based on his ADP.
5. Brandin Cooks will outscore Antonio Brown in fantasy points
Have you seen the insane chemistry between Drew Brees and Cooks this preseason? In about two quarters of action the duo already has two touchdowns and seems unstoppable. This is against opposing defenses who are playing their starters.
There is no way that Brown can match his stats from last year (129 catches, 1,689 yards, 13 TDs). Brown is very, very good but the Steelers now have more options than ever before with Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, plus don’t forget about Le’Veon Bell.
The Saints on the other hand lost target monster Jimmy Graham and deep threat Kenny Stills in the offseason and while Marques Colston returns, he has lost a step and is no longer Brees’ No. 1 option. It’s true that New Orleans might run the ball more, but don’t forget this is a team led by Sean Payton with Drew Brees as his QB – both these guys love to air it out. Plus while the Saints’ defense has improved, they aren’t great, which means Brees and company will probably be playing from behind a lot, raising Cooks’ value.
Cooks is currently ranked as a WR18 – a complete steal for someone who is going to have 100-plus catches, more than 1,300 receiving yards and 8-plus TDs.
6. David Cobb will win offensive rookie of the year
While it’s true that not many NFL teams were beating down the door to draft Cobb, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot than with the Tennessee Titans, who took him in the fifth round. Cobb is a rugged runner who will enter the year as the Titans’ No. 1 RB. Last year the Titans featured the uninspiring combo of Bishop Sankey and Shonn Greene. Sankey is still around and so far is getting every opportunity to be the lead ball carrier and all he is doing is stinking it up.
Coob on the other hand has performed extremely well so far in the preseason and looks like he has the tools to be a workhorse. He ran for 1,626 yards and 13 TDs last year at Minnesota. Those numbers are especially impressive when you consider how anemic the Gophers’ passing attack was last season. Cobb (5-11, 229) is built to take NFL punishment.
7. Eddie Royal will finish the year with 1,200 receiving yards and 8 TDs
So the Bears decide to let Brandon Marshall go and trade him to the Jets for a bag of footballs. And while the team did draft Kevin White with the seventh overall pick, Chicago also signed Eddie Royal to provide depth to its wide receiver corps. Statistically speaking, Royal enjoyed his best season in 2008, when both he and current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler were in Denver.
Now with the possibility that White could miss the entire 2015 season because of a stress fracture in his shin, Cutler will be leaning on Royal even more. Alshon Jeffery is still the No. 1 option, but he’s been hampered during training camp and the preseason by different injuries. If Jeffery’s injury issues persist into the start of the regular season, Royal could emerge as Cutler’s No. 1 target. This is great news for anyone gambling on Royal in the late rounds, as offensive coordinator Adam Gase has a history of relying heavily on his No. 1 WR (Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas).
8. Tyler Eiffert will be a top-5 fantasy TE by the end of the year
If you’ve been watching any of the Bengals’ preseason games so far you’ll have noticed that Andy Dalton looks Eiffert’s way a lot. It appears that they have some decent chemistry going into the season. Whether or not you think Dalton is any good doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Eiffert is the No. 2 receiving option on a team that has a very balanced and well-run offense. What makes Eiffert even more enticing his he is currently being overlooked in many drafts and currently has an ADP in the 10th round as a TE10. You can load up on other positions and wait for Eiffert and reap the rewards.
9. Tre Mason will rush for over 1,000 yards
Everyone knows that Todd Gurley is the next great running back. Some have gone as far as comparing him to Adrian Peterson. That might be going a little too far. For one, Gurley has yet to see a single snap in an NFL game. And secondly, he is coming back from a torn ACL and will be playing with a surgically repaired knee.
No one knows for sure when Gurley will see game action, but at least for the first few games of the 2015 season, the Rams will be handing the ball off to Mason, probably around 20 times per game. And Mason is going to take this opportunity and run with it (pun intended). Mason is not going to just let Gurley come in and be the starter when he’s ready. Mason finished the 2014 season with 543 yards over his last eight games, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Mason is currently being drafted as a RB31 in the seventh round. That’s extreme value for a guy who is going to be given every opportunity to produce and is going to surprise everyone with the results.
10. Sam Bradford stays healthy and throws more than 30 TD passes
That’s right – this is the year that Bradford puts it all together, stays healthy and plays 16 games and with the tutelage of Chip Kelly, becomes a bona fide star QB.
What’s not to like here? Bradford is the best QB Kelly has ever had in the NFL and don’t forget Kelly was the one who turned Nick Foles into a household name. Bradford has the arm, accuracy and smarts that Kelly loves in his QB. Sure Kelly would love it if Bradford was a little more mobile, but Kelly didn’t trade for the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 draft because of his ability to make plays with his legs.
The Eagles are going to have a top-5 offense this year. They have added DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to their backfield. They have emerging stud WRs in Jordan Matthews and rookie Nelson Agholor plus a soon-to-be top TE in Zac Ertz. The best part about Bradford is that he is going undrafted in the majority of standard leagues, so you can go right now and pick him up on the waiver wire. Go do it now.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.