Sorry for the lack of post. Turns out I actually had to do some nonfantasy football related work today. I feel terrible about it. Judging from mock drafts and a lot of the drafts that readers have shown me, this year is anything but predictable. We have first rounds where more than 7 quarterbacks are taken, we have about 10 running backs that we can expect to be great and a very muddled middle, and about 100 wide receivers that could become fantasy starters.
For this post, I want you guys to put your bold predictions in the comments. If you have a question or need advice, you can continue posting your questions on the Advice Time or Player Rankings post. Let's leave this one for predictions. Fantasy player related, NFL related. Whatever you think is going to happen, let me know.
Enough waiting... let's irresponsibly jump to some conclusions.
1) Sam Bradford eclipses Big Ben, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman and more to become a Top 10 Fantasy Quarterback.
Alright.. This might not be super bold, he is the 14th drafted quarterback in most leagues and had a great rookie year last year. The key for him is to avoid any type of sophomore slump and capitalize on all of the offseason changes of the Rams. He has a new coach, better receivers, and the much-needed respect from the St. Louis fan base and the NFC West. Expect Bradford to bust through the stats that he made last year and end up performing with numbers around Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger.
2) Felix Jones manages to stays healthy puts up a Top 7 Running Back season.
Have you seen him this preseason. Analysts talk about preseason players playing in "regular season form." No one is doing this more than Felix Jones. 10 carries in two preseason games, 79 yards. He is running people over, dashing to the outside and looking faster than he has ever looked. Sure he won't keep a 7.9 average throughout the season, but being the true number one back in Dallas and staying healthy throughout the year, you can expect to see him getting 20 carries a game and flirting with 1,400 yards.
3) The Detroit Lions terrorize the NFC North (especially the Bears) and turn into a Top 5 Defense.
Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nick Fairley, Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch, Eric Wright. When you have a team with this many popular names, you know that something is going right. Interceptions come from the pass rush, and we are looking at a group of pass rushers similar to what we saw a few years ago in Tennessee. Expect plenty of turnovers and sacks from this group as they battle the Steelers, Packers and Giants for defensive dominance in 2011.
4) Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham each finish the year with 1,000+ yards and 10+ TDs.
They flirted with it last year. Manningham was just 56 yards and 1 TD short of this goal. But without Steve Smith and Kevin hanging around, you will see their reception number go out. Lots of people are predicting that this will be Hakeem Nicks year, but don't scoff at what Manningham will be able to pull off. With the offensive line and pass happy offense that the Giants have had in the past, seeing a combined 2000+ yards and 24+ TDs from this pair is not a distant stretch of the imagination.
5) Michael Vick can't embrace the hype and runs for half as many touchdowns and throws over twice as many interceptions.
We all know that Vick tossed three picks in his last preseason game. Because defenses are learning how to play against him. I recently highlighted a stat on this blog that no quarterback has ever run for more than eight TDs one year and come back for more than five the next season. This statistic includes Mike Vick who ran for eight scores in 2002 and managed just one (though he did only play 5 games) the next year. Add the fact that he has only had one complete season in the eight that he has played and you see limited production.
Let's also remember the Michael Vick of old who was nowhere to be found last year. In 2004 he had 12 interceptions, and 2005-06 saw 13 interceptions. He has always been smart with the ball, but after witnessing that preseason game, you can tell that he is getting flustered under pressure.
6) Tony Romo puts up massive fantasy stats as three receivers eclipse 1,000 yards.
Yeah, this is the second Cowboys prediction that I have. I'm a fan, whatever. They say to write about what you know. And I know fantasizing that my team isn't terrible. But I still feel that this is doable. Between the three quarterbacks that played for the Cowboys last season, the team had 4,200 passing yards. That number would put Romo in the top 5 performers. Add a 25-30 touchdowns and what he can do with his legs and he sees the top 5 for sure.
Now the bolder prediction. Miles Austin and Jason Witten both had over 1,000 yards last season. Bryant would have been close without going down with an injury. And the majority of these yards came from backup quarterback Jon Kitna. The Cowboys running game looks to be good with Felix Jones and the biggest concern lies in their defense. If the offensive line can hold off the rush, Witten and Austin could see similar numbers and Dez Bryant could rise as a truly elite receiver.
7) Mike Tolbert once again ends the season with a higher fantasy point total than disappointing Ryan Mathews.
Sproles is out. And Mathews is the 'running back of the future.' The Chargers want him to be their number one guy, but he is not there yet. They will try to get him most of the carries, much like they did at the beginning of last season, but soon enough they will know that Mathews is not running or blocking like they need him to. In 2010, Tolbert had more carries, catches, yards and scores than Mathews, and despite the efforts of everyone on the Chargers, he will once again be their leading rusher.
8) Wes Welker returns to household name status with Patriots' addition of Chad Ochocinco.
In 2009, Welker got hurt. Despite missing two games, he managed a ridiculous 1,348 yards on 123 receptions. His injury and lack of a WR1 in 2010 held him to 86 receptions and 848 yards. But with the acquisition of Chad Ochocinco, the heat is once again off Welker allowing him to do what he does best.
Welker is between the 15-20th drafted wide receiver in the draft. And being able to take him in the 4th or 5th round as a WR2 will completely make your team
9) 15 tight ends finish the year with over 60 receptions.
Last year, eight tight ends finished with 60 or more receptions. You can expect that number to double in 2011. Tight end this season is the deepest position in fantasy football. There are over 20 guys that could post top 10 seasons. With plenty of young quarterbacks in the league this year, and with teams remaining pass-heavy, tight ends are going to be one of the most important players on the field. Expect high stats from tight end, and don't worry if you don't grab one of the five elite guys, there will be plenty of talent remaining on the waiver wire once the draft is complete.
10) An apocalyptic amount of running back and wide receivers return from the fantasy grave.
This season you'll see a lot of names toward the top of weekly rankings that will make you think its 2006. Expect players like Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson and DeAngelo Williams to return from fantasy obscurity and post respectable numbers. Wide receiver names that will once again be welcome additions to your starting lineup are Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Mike Sims-Walker and Roy Williams. The young guys will still stay to the top, but expect some forgotten names to go back to the numbers that we would have expected years ago.