The Super Bowl just took place on Monday, but it’s been weeks since the majority of us were able to play fantasy football. If you’re like me you now have a big empty spot in your heart and a whole lot more spare time.
The good news is that it is never too early to starting thinking about and preparing for next season.
So to get things started why not go crazy with some bold fantasy predictions. Heck, you never know, some of these might even come true.
Here we go.
Odell Beckham Jr. Becomes the First Wide Receiver to Surpass 2,000 Yards
Beckham had a very productive 2015 fantasy season. He caught 96 balls for 1,450 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Anyone who drafted him was surely happy with his production, other than the fact that he got suspended for what would be fantasy championship weekend, which means if he was on your team, you probably lost because of his idiotic behavior, but that’s beside the point. Even though he managed to score 223.3 fantasy points (standard scoring), you just feel that he could have done more. Well, 2016 will be Beckham’s third year in the NFL and we all know about what happens to receivers in their third year. Beckham will still have Eli Manning throwing him the ball and will still be the focal point of an pass-happy Giants offense that now has offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo calling the shots as head coach. As long as Beckham can keep his head on straight and his hamstrings in shape, he will hit 125 receptions and just pass the 2,000-yard receiving mark, establishing a new NFL record.
Todd Gurley Will Score More than 300 Fantasy Points
Last year Gurley was a rookie coming off a torn ACL playing on an offensive-challenged St. Louis Rams team that couldn’t figure out if Nick Foles or Case Keenum would be the starting quarterback. Opposing defenses knew that the only weapon that the Rams had was Gurley (quickly name another Rams wide receiver other than Tavon Austin) and he still finished the season with 1,108 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on only 229 carries in 13 games, that’s good for 4.8 yards per carry. Throw in the fact that he also is a terrific receiving threat out of the backfield (he caught 21 balls for 188 yards) and you can see why Gurley is going to have a big 2016. LaDainian Tomlinson had one of the best fantasy seasons of all time in 2006 when he scored 427.1 fantasy points thanks to 1,815 rushing yards, 508 receiving yards and a whopping 31 total touchdowns. Gurley won’t be able to match LT in the touchdown category, but he should at least come close to matching him with 1,800 rushing yards and close to 500 receiving yards. Keep in mind that the Rams are now in Los Angeles and they need stars and Gurley is now doubt going to be a huge star, starting in 2016.
Blake Bortles Will Finish 2016 as a Top-3 Fantasy QB
Did you know that Bortles scored more than 300 fantasy points this past season? He scored 334.12 to be exact (in standard leagues), thanks to 4,428 passing yards and 35 touchdowns and he even managed to rush for 310 yards and two touchdowns. That’s outstanding, especially for someone that either went undrafted in many fantasy leagues or was an afterthought as a late-round flier. Of course a lot of Bortles’ production is due to the fact that he plays in games that have a lot of garbage time where he is forced to air it out because the Jaguars are usually trailing by 20 points heading into the fourth quarter. But in fantasy football, garbage-time points can win you the week. Now the Jaguars’ defense should be better in 2016, so Bortles might be playing from behind less; but just look at the weapons that he has at his disposal. Wide receiver Allen Robinson finished last year with 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 (yes, that right – 14) touchdowns and is easily now considered a top-10 NFL target. His counterpart Allen Hurns isn’t a slouch either and in 2016 they should have a fully healthy Julius Thomas at tight end and running back T.J. Yeldon will have a year of experience under his belt and help balance the offense. You can count on Bortles scoring well over 400 fantasy points next year as he will also throw for more than 4,500 yards with 40 touchdown passes.
Adrian Peterson Will NOT Rush for 1,000 Yards
Not all these predictions can be hunky dory. Peterson defied father time last season at the dreaded age of 30 for running backs when he led the NFL in rushing once again with 1,485 yards. He also added 11 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 30 receptions and 222 receiving yards. Combine all that together and AP scored 235.7 fantasy points last year, not too shabby. But if you look at Peterson’s game log, you can see that he really started to slow down as the year moved along. Of course some of that can be attributed to getting banged up, but he is no longer a spring chicken, so there probably isn’t a time during the season when he isn’t banged up. He also is no longer involved on third downs and is barely a factor in the passing game. The Vikings really like what they have seen in Jerrick McKinnon and are poised to give him a larger role entering the 2016 season. Don’t make the mistake of drafting Peterson as your No. 1 running back this fall because if you do, you will be greatly disappointed.
Jordan Reed Takes His Place as Fantasy’s No. 1 TE
To say that Reed is injury prone might be one of the biggest understatements in fantasy. In his first three seasons with Washington, Reed has played in only 34 of 48 possible games. The lure for fantasy owners, is that he played exceptionally well in those 34 games. In his first two seasons, Reed posted close to 1,000 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Last year, with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback, Reed had the best season of his career – catching 87 balls for 952 yards and an outstanding 11 touchdowns. What is really impressive though is that Reed was targeted a whopping 114 times and that’s with missing two games. Heading into 2016 there is no reason to think that the Redskins’ offense will take a step back (assuming Cousins doesn’t sign with another team through free agency), in fact, this unit should continue to improve. Reed will be a key factor in the Redskins’ rise in the NFC and by the end of the season he will out-produce Rob Gronkowski with 100-plus catches for more than 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. Don’t overlook Reed on draft day.
Andrew Luck Returns with Vengeance and Breaks the Single-Season Touchdown Passes Record
Peyton Manning currently holds the NFL record for touchdown passes in a single season with 55, which he set back in 2013, when he was 37 years old (that really isn’t that long ago). Luck on the other hand, is already in 11th place for most touchdowns in a single season with 40, which he did back in 2014. Now we all know the tumultuous season that the Colts and Luck experienced this past season. But Luck is one of those guys who will look at that lost season and return with a massive chip on his shoulder. The Colts also have surrounded Luck with some of the best weapons he has ever had with the likes of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Philip Dorsett (they’ll probably cut Andre Johnson). Luck also has appealing tight ends to throw to in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, although both are pending free agents. Don’t be surprised to see Luck throw six touchdown passes in the first game of the season and just keep pouring it on from there.
And last but not least...
Peyton Manning Throws for More Than 4,500 Yards and 30 TDs
Just kidding. I hope “The Sheriff” retires and rides off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion.
Here are a few extra predictions, just for fun:
* “Fat” Eddie (aka Eddie Lacy) gets in shape and runs for more than 1,200 yards and 10 TDs.
* Julio Jones fails to catch 100 balls because he misses three games due to injury.
* Calvin Johnson changes his mind on retirement, instead forcing a trade to New England where he gets 1,300 yards and scores
* The aforementioned Cousins leads the Redskins to an 11-win season thanks to 4,600 passing yards 33 TD.
* Amari Cooper scores more fantasy points than A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins.
— 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.