Sully’s Way too Early 2018 Bold Predictions
Episode 3 of the Dynasty RedZone Podcast, Rick and Nicolai share their Way to Early 2018 Bold Predictions. This podcast (my favorite episode thus far) has inspired me to add my two cents on the topic. Pause here and ask yourself if you have been downloading and listening to the Dynasty Red Zone podcast. The obvious answer if you haven’t, it is to get it together and make it happen, I know you will enjoy it! So here we go with my way to early bold predictions, a breakout, and a bust for 2018.
- Andrew Luck – If he starts to throw a football again sometime soon I like this prediction even more. If he doesn’t then well, this prediction is a hot pile of garbage. Luck has the talent in his arm (I’m hoping) and in his legs to be a top 5 QB let alone top 12.
- Drew Brees – A proven prolific passer in his career, Brees continues to be the benefactor of having talented weapons at his disposal. The additions of Cameron Meredith and Tre’Quan Smith, give Brees additional options to go along Micheal Thomas, Ted Ginn, and Alvin Kamara. I’d like Brees even more if I didn’t feel the Saints will continue to be a run-first offense with Kamara, Mark Ingram (when he returns), Boston Scott and perhaps even Trey Edmunds.
- Kirk Cousins – Kirk Cousins finds himself in the best situation of his career to win football games. He also finds himself playing with one of the league’s top defensive units and a top tier RB in Dalvin Cook. The Vikings will likely be leading most weeks and thus limiting the overall potential of Cousins as they pound the ball on the ground with Cook and Latavius Murray. Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and to a lesser extent Kendall Wright and Laquon Treadwell will still provide Cousins the weapons required to finish as a top 10 QB in 2018.
- Ben Roethlisberger – As long a Big Ben can keep his bionic body upright and on the field, he easily finishes as a top 10 QB this season. Antonio Brown continues to be a proven talent that has excellent chemistry with his starting QB. JuJu Smith-Schuster along with rookie James Washington and the TE combo of Jesse James and Vance McDonald provide Ben with above average secondary targets. Add in the all-world talent of Le’Veon Bell and his pass-catching abilities, and Ben has all the required resources to excel. Pittsburgh will have some opportunity on the defensive side of the football this season and the offense will be forced to score for the Steelers to win football games.
- Cam Newton – Cam finished as the number 2 QB in Fantasy last season. How did Cam Newton end up number 2? 754 rushing yards with 6 TD that’s how. Of the top 15 QB’s last season only Carson Wentz had less passing yards than 3302 Cam Newton put up. The addition of CJ Anderson (an upgrade on Jonathan Stewart), Christian McCaffery in his second year, the selection of DJ Moore, and a full season from Greg Olsen (hopefully) will benefit this offense. The usual production from Devin Funchess and all these weapons will add up to significantly less carries for Cam. This offense is built around Cam getting the ball out of his hands quickly to save the wear and tear on his body. Cam will regress this season but will remain in the top 10.
- Jared Goff- Last season’s #12 QB makes the jump into the top 10 this year. Another full offseason under Sean McVay and his brilliant offensive mind will only benefit this young talented QB. A full offseason to develop chemistry with the newly acquired Brandon Cooks sure won’t hurt either. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Todd Gurley give Goff all the weapons needed to succeed on his 3804 passing yards and 28 TD’s from a year ago.
- Carson Wentz – Carson Wentz had an MVP season rolling along until a season-ending knee injury kept him out of the final two games of 2017. With that being said he finished as the #5 QB last season. If not for the knee injury and some concern as to when he will be back I would have Wentz as a top 3 QB.
- Jimmy Garoppolo – Not many starting QB’s in the NFL have undefeated on their resume like Jimmy does. Jimmy was a stud under center once taking over for the Forty-Niners. He gets to add Jerick McKinnon out of the backfield to an underrated offense that boasts the talents of Marquise Goodwin, George Kittle, and Pierce Garcon. Under the direction of the talented and creative Kyle Shanahan, this group will continue to improve. Having Jimmy at #5 might be bold but hey these are called bold predictions for a reason.
- Tom Brady- I likely have Tom Brady too high. At first, he wasn’t on my list but it would seem that every time I doubt Tom Brady he wins the MVP and takes his team to the Super Bowl. I for one am sick of Brady winning MVP awards and seeing the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Tom remains a top 5 QB until he doesn’t. At the ripe old age of 40, Brady threw for 4577 yards and 32 TDs. Like the old saying goes, to be the man you have to bet the man. I’m banking on only 3 others to do that this season.
- Russell Wilson – Last season’s #1 QB Russell Wilson benefited from a few scenarios; Aaron Rodgers injury and being the most talented player in a lackluster offense. If Seattle was going to accomplish anything last season it was going to be off Wilson’s arm or legs. Wilson has a good arm, great legs, and even better vision. His ability to make something out of nothing is exceptional. The Seahawks appear to have taken a step back at TE with the loss of Jimmy Graham but have taken steps forward at WR. Doug Baldwin returns to be the go-to guy, Tyler Lockett is poised to break out and even the dinosaur know as Brandon Marshall should help. Coach Pete Carroll wants to be a run-first offense, and the running game will improve with Rashaad Penny, but if that O-Line continues to be one of the worst in the league this team will live and die on the back of Wilson.
- DeShaun Watson – An absolute monster until a non-contact torn ACL in practice ended his season. Blessed with a strong arm, great legs and arguably the top WR in football, Watson is poised to be one of the top fantasy QBs for years to come. Houston has a solid complementary cast to DeAndre Hopkins on offense that provides Wilson the tools he needs to push for the #1 QB in fantasy in 2018.
- Aaron Rodgers – Simply the best QB in the game. Aaron Rodgers returns to the Green Bay Packers with an improved offense and all the skills required to be on the top of the mountain at season’s end. This Viking fan hates it but knows that it’s true.
Mitch Trubisky – Trubisky debuted last season attempting to complete passes to a group of individuals that were impersonating NFL wide receivers. In season two, under the talented offensive mind of Matt Nagy, Trubisky will have legit targets. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, and maybe even Kevin White, will provide Trubisky with the targets he needs to vault into the QB1 conversation.
Dak Prescott – When your top pass-catching options are Allen Hurns and Micheal Gallup you are going to struggle. With all due respect to all involved here, this team will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Dak will be somewhat viable due to his legs but not enough to make him a starting fantasy QB this season.
- Alex Collins – Alex Collins reminded me of Marshawn Lynch in his prime last season. He was a beast. Finishing as the 21st top RB with 973 yards on only 212 attempts. I’m not one to put too much stock into YPC but 4.6 YPC is an impressive number. If the Ravens wake up and move away from Buck Allen, limit Kenneth Dixon, Alex Collins will have top 10OB appeal this season.
- Melvin Gordon – The number 5 RB in 2017 wasn’t initially on my list. Then the Hunter Henry injury happened and his value in that offense elevated once again. His pass catching ability and Phillip Rivers comfort in targeting him will keep him in the top 12 for one more season.
- Leonard Fournette – There is something about Leonard Fournette that I just don’t like. I am not sure what it is to be perfectly honest. Perhaps it’s his tendency to be injured that sours me on him. Regardless this team is going to run the ball and then run the ball some more. He belongs on this list.
- Christian McCaffery – CMC was going to be much higher on this list and then the Panthers brought in CJ Anderson. CJ won’t be enough to push CMC to far down the list of top 12 RB this season. A second year in the offense that should see him get more touches out of the backfield as well as plenty of targets from Cam will solidify Christian McCaffery a spot in the top 10 this season.
- Saquon Barkley – In a spot that most experts felt the G-men should select their QB of the future, the Giants drafted the most talented and massively hyped RB out of Penn State. Barkley is the slam dunk 1.01 selection in this year’s rookie drafts and by all accounts, he should be. Barkley will reward those that select him as he is poised to utilize his immense talents to complement a solid passing game in NY. The offensive line in NY still has some opportunities but the volume this kid is going to get will overcome it. #8 might be too low for him at the end of the day.
- Kareem Hunt – When talent and opportunity collide the results can be impressive. That is exactly what transpired for the Chiefs rookie last season. Thrust into the starting role after a Spencer Ware injury, the rookie RB finishing as the #4 RB last season. 1327 rushing yards and an additional 455 receiving yards on 53 catches Hunt showed the Chiefs they have their RB of the present and future. I do feel that Hunt will slide back a little this year with an unproven Patrick Mahomes at QB and the addition of Sammy Watkins. Regardless Kareem Hunt is a top-level talent and one that will find himself on this list for years to come.
- David Johnson – A lot has happened to DJ after the monster 2016 season that propelled him to the top of the RB charts. He was limited to 23 yards on 11 carries last year due to a wrist injury. His head coach and play caller is now broadcasting games that his starting QB may or may not be watching. In comes Sam Bradford and Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy. DJ has amazing talent and coming back from a wrist injury is much better than returning from a lower-body injury for a RB. I like DJ a lot and he wouldn’t be #6 on this list if I didn’t. There is a lot of unknown here. How long does Bradford last before being injured? What does Josh Rosen do when he’s the man behind center? What does this offense look like with one proven pass catcher and a list of other guys who are just guys? The offensive line in Arizona is dog shirt which also doesn’t help. DJ will get his touches and will deliver, I just don’t think we will see the success and numbers from 2016.
- Dalvin Cook – The leading rusher in the league at the time of his injury last season, Dalvin Cook proved in a very short period that he belongs in this league and can produce at a high level. ACL injuries are not what they used to be, and the Minnesota Vikings know a thing or two about handling a starting running back coming back off such an injury. The offensive line has improved, his QB is better, and the defense remains elite. Cook will get every opportunity to be a top 5 RB this season and he will deliver.
- Le’Veon Bell – I will start off by saying I own Mr. Bell in one of my leagues and I have no idea what to do with him. He clearly is an elite level player in this league and at the same time, I ask myself how much tread can possibly be left on these tires. He remains on this list and inside the top 5 based on his body of work, his amazing talent, and his contract situation. I do feel that this is the final season in Pittsburgh. These two cannot get together on a contract and the Steelers will not put the franchise tag on him a third time. I can see the Steelers giving Le’Veon all the work he can handle a la Demarco Murray in his final season in Dallas. No sense in saving any of that tread for the team that ends up signing him. Look for the Steelers to run him into the ground and for Bell to turn those touches into another top 5 RB season.
- Alvin Kamara – Anyone who knows me, knows I love this kid. I recently dealt Jerick McKinnon and two 2019 1st round picks to acquire him in the RedZone 96 V.1 league. (I’d love your feedback on that deal). My initial thought was to move Kamara even higher on the list but even my love cannot project him over my top two. The reason for not having him higher is his production/touch last year cannot possibly be duplicated. Kamara finished as the #3 RB last season with only 201 touches. He turned those into 1554 yards and 13 scores. He finished 21.2 points behind Le’Veon Bell on 205 fewer touches. I see Kamara continuing to impress but with increased touches and less production/touch. Kamara will have more rushing attempts and catch more passes especially early in the season with Mark Ingram sitting out his four-game suspension. He’s a stud and will continue to be one this list, this year and beyond.
- Todd Gurley – Mr. Gurley made his owners very happy last year and that admiration will continue this season. The #1 overall RB from 2017 will continue to deliver. Benefiting from an offensive genius mind in Sean McVay, an up and coming QB and a cast of solid pass catchers (Gurley included), Gurley will continue to shine in 2017. Getting better and stronger as the year went on last season proves that Gurley can handle the workload and then some. Thank you, LA, for ridding us of Jeff Fisher, we may never have known what Mr. Gurley could do if Fisher were still there finishing 7-9 each season.
- Ezekiel Elliott – First and foremost we do not have the Elliott vs. NFL saga to deal with this season. Thankfully Zeke sat out the four-game suspension last season ensuring that barring any other off-field discretions or injury he will suit for all 16 Cowboys games this year. The suspension derailed a solid year for the second year back last season, but in my mind, puts him in position for an even better year this year. Zeke averaged just over 20 rushing attempts per game last season and an additional 3 targets and 2 catches per game. The suspension saved Zeke from being hit an additional 88 times last season (not counting pass blocking). He is young and he is strong, but limiting the workload at any time of his career benefits him. Dallas has a great offensive line and a cast of so-so pass catchers. I see the Cowboys leaning hard on Zeke and he will deliver the top overall RB production as a result. One can only hope that in addition to being the #1 RB in fantasy that he retires the belly shirt.
Breakout Running Back
Jerick McKinnon – showed his rushing and pass catching abilities when given work in Minnesota last season after Dalvin Cook’s injury. McKinnon finds himself in a great spot in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Jerick got paid big dollars by the Niners and they will give him every opportunity to propel himself into the RB1 conversation.
Running Back Bust
Marlon Mack- Not impressed with the body of work that Marlon Mack showed us last season. Mack should have taken grasp of that backfield last season but couldn’t make the most of his opportunities. I see more of a timeshare this season and not much upside here.
- Doug Baldwin- Finishing as the 13th ranked WR in fantasy last season and I see Doug Baldwin sliding into the top 12 this year. Gone is Jimmy Graham and in is Brandon Marshall. I’m relying on the departure of Graham leading to an uptick in RedZone targets. The addition of Brandon Marshall does little to affect Baldwin’s productivity in my mind. There is little to get excited about in the passing game of the Seahawks and I am putting my money on Baldwin being the one who delivers.
- Tyreek Hill – Never one to be high on Tyreek Hillman the past, I have no problem admitting that I was wrong. A player with blazing speed I figured would just end up being another gadget guy. That gadget guy finished as the #8 WR last season with over 1100 yards and 8 TD. I do believe that rookie QB Patrick Mahomes and the addition of Sammy Watkins will limit his overall production in 2017. Regardless Tyreek Hill remains a WR1 and a player you’ll love on your dynasty team for years to come.
- Stefon Diggs – Fresh off the Minneapolis miracle catch, Stefon Diggs will propel himself into top 10 status this season. With the addition of Kurt Cousins at QB, and the complementary Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph at his side, Diggs will finally become a 1000-yard receiver and one you will be thrilled to roster on your dynasty team.
- Jarvis Landry – All this guy does is catch passes. 112 catches for the #5 WR last season. The only WR in the top 12 with less than 1000 yards (987). Jarvis is a great addition to a Cleveland Browns offense that looks like it has the horses to make some noise. Bound to be a favorite target of Tyrod Taylor I am thrilled with where Jarvis landed and look for him to continue to please his dynasty owners.
- Allen Robinson – The prize offseason acquisition for the Chicago Bears, Allen Robinson is going to go have a top 10 WR season. Any player that has the talent that Arob does and managed to put up the numbers he did in a lackluster Jaguars offense with Blake Bortles as his QB is worthy of the prediction. If not for the ACL injury I would likely push Arob into my top 5. I look for him to start off a little slow as the team gets comfortable in the Matt Nagy offense. Potentially a buy-low candidate early in the season he will explode in the back half making his dynasty owners very happy.
- Keenan Allen – Keenan Allen is a player I have targeted in leagues for years and sadly have had little luck obtaining. Off the back of a monster season last year the 2016 #3 WR will again impress but a slightly less rate. Allen produced 102 catches for 1393 yards on 159 targets last season. I do feel that Mike Williams will be a factor this season and that the ball will need to be spread around a little more for the Chargers to have success. Hunter Henry’s injury will keep Keenan towards the top of the WR class again this season. Like I said I am a big fan, but I couldn’t get him ahead of any of my top 6.
- Mike Evans – Its bounce back time for Mike Evans and his offense. It was a frustrating year to be a Mike Evans owner last season, to say the least. Now if you held him, you’re about to be rewarded. Evans delivered a 1000-yard season last year but failed to score with any consistency. I look to see Evans bounce back to his 2016 numbers in which he caught 96 passes for 1321 yards and 12 scores. The 6’5 231 lb. WR has averaged a TD every 18 targets in his career. Last year that dipped to a score every 27 and his targets dropped to 136. Somehow Dirk Kotter survived last season. If he wants to keep that gig we best be hearing Winston to Evans a lot more this year.
- Micheal Thomas – Micheal Thomas ended up #6 on the top WR last season. He does himself one better this year and ends up a top 5 WR. Thomas remains the top target for Drew Brees in a high-octane offense that can run and throw the football. Look for Thomas to repeat the 100+ catch season and elevate the 5 scores into 10+. If you own this guy be very happy. He’s going to be a WR1 fixture on your dynasty team for many years to come.
- Davante Adams- Being the #1 target of Aaron Rodgers is good work if you can get it (just ask Jordy Nelson). Adams had himself a good year last season with Brett Hundley as his QB. He finished as the #14 WR with 885 yards on 74 targets and 10 scores. I’m not sure he scores 10 times this season but I would put money on a 100+ catch 1000+ yard season. The addition of Jimmy Graham at TE, the deletion of Jordy Nelson at WR and the improved running game from Aaron Jones will keep defenses honest. Rodgers will likely pick these teams apart and Davante will be the primary benefactor.
- Odell Beckham Jr. – After a disappointing injury-filled season OBJ comes back healthy and hungry. As long as we can keep this dude away from Josh Norman and kicking nets I see him as a fixture in the top 3 WR class this year and beyond. Playing alongside an improved Sterling Shepard, sophomore TE Evan Engram, and rookie of the year Saquon Barkley, OBJ will excel and set career-high numbers in the process.
- Antonio Brown – As mentioned in the QB ranks as long as bionic Big Ben stays upright this offense will produce. Antonio Brown is the key to this offense and a fixture in the top of the WR ranks. Not very bold here but look for AB to push for #1 amongst WR again this season. The Steelers are going to have to score this year and I would bet that AB contributes more than the 9 scores he has last year.
- DeAndre Hopkins – This guy is sick, he’s a freak of nature really. Nuk puts up numbers regardless of who is throwing him the ball. The idea of a full season with Deshawn Watson as his QB is just too good to be true. Nuk is a great route runner with excellent hands, leaping ability and body control. Nobody catches more passes that he shouldn’t than Hopkins. He’s elite and will continue to be with a great starting QB feeding him.
Breakout Wide Receiver
Josh Gordon – This guy looks like he has finally got his act together. When on the field he has produced at a top level with garbage QB’s throwing him the ball. Surrounded this season by legit offensive weapons and a QB that is easily the best he has ever seen Josh Gordon has top 10 WR potential. It’s quite possible the only thing that can stop Josh Gordon is Josh Gordon himself. I for one sure hope he doesn’t!
Wide Receiver Bust
Julio Jones – Not very often one targets the #6 WR from a year ago to be a bust. Julio put up 88 grabs for 1444 yards and 3 scores last season. He scored 251 points in the process. On the surface that appears to be solid fantasy production. Back out his monster week 12 game vs. Tampa Bay and the results look quite different. Julio went 12 for 253 with 2 scores and a rush of 15 yards. PPR result of 50.8 points. The remainder of the season he went 76 for 1191 and 1 score. The yards are solid but the reality is if you project out his season removing that Tampa game he produces 5 catches for 79.4 yards per game. These numbers make Julio the 11th ranked WR last season. Add in an aging and regressing rapidly Matt Ryan and I don’t see Julio in the top 15 this year. Julio ends up a WR2 this year. Based on his ADP he’s a bust plain and simple.
- Tyler Eifert – Well to be honest someone had to make the list at number 12. This is all about health. If Eifert remains healthy he will be a top 12 TE.
- Delanie Walker – The old dude still catches passes and is the safety valve for Marcus Mariotta. The Titans offense should improve this year with the addition of Dion Lewis and the likely improvement of Corey Davis. Walker will still get his share of targets and more importantly RedZone targets in 2018.
- David Njoku- David Njoku is another piece of an impressive Cleveland offense. At times last season as a rookie TE , he was one of the only viable passing options for whichever disappointing QB found themselves under center. This season with an upgrade at QB, WR, and RB, Njoku can be a very complimentary piece of what is sure to be a surprisingly productive offense.
- Greg Olsen – lost to a foot injury for most of the season, 2017 is a year that Greg Olsen and Panther fans would rather soon forget. Olsen assuming healthy will again be a key outlet for Cam Newton along with Devin Funchess, CMC, and DJ Moore. I see an increase in workload for CMC in the RedZone and as a result, the usual scores for Olsen are sure to decline. His overall body of the work will keep him in the top 10 TE conversation.
- Kyle Rudolph – RedZone Rudy will continue to catch touchdowns. Rudy has a career average of 3.5 catches, 33 yards and .5 TD’s per game over his 7-year career in Minnesota. With an upgrade at QB in Kirk Cousins, I would anticipate that Rudolph will best his career year in 2016 in which he put up 83 catches for 840 yards and 7 scores. The play-action bootleg from Pat Shurmur’s offense is a sure bet to remain in the playbook this year while in the RedZone for the Vikings.
- Jimmy Graham – Once one of the elite TE in the game, Jimmy Graham has seen injuries and a Seattle Seahawks team without a clue how to use him limit his results. Graham transitions into a potent offense that albeit has never really utilized the TE position effectively. With that being said any TE in an offense with Aaron Rodgers slinging it (especially one with Graham’s size and talent) has the potential to be a top 10 TE.
- Trey Burton – Trey Burton has what it takes to break out this year and he will. Burton proved to be a viable fantasy TE when given the opportunity in Philadelphia. Opportunity is exactly what lies ahead for Trey. In a Nagy offense that loves it’s TE, Burton is sure to be a safety valve for the improving Mitchell Trubisky and a RedZone threat. Only 26 years old, Burton will soon be a fixture on this top 12 TE list for seasons to come.
- George Kittle – Top 5 TE might be a little lofty for a player that is coming off a 106.5 point season in 15 games last season. With that being said 16 games in the Kyle Shanahan offense with Jimmy G. at the helm is too enticing to overlook. Projecting out the 5 games Kittle played with Jimmy as his starter, Kittle would have been TE 11 last season with 48 catches, 716 yards, 3 scores and 137.6 fantasy points. With Kittle having a full offseason to work in an offense that will be better the second year TE is about to break out!
- Evan Engram – Last year’s #5 TE takes a slight leap up the rankings into the #4 spot in 2018. 64 catches for a rookie TE is impressive but not as impressive as the 115 targets he received. Set to be a complimentary piece of a strong offense instead of its only target won’t limit Engram’s overall value. The Giants should score more points this season and I see no reason he cannot duplicate the 64 catches and build off his 6 TD’s. This 23 years old TE is going to be a fixture on this list for a long time. Hopefully, he’s a fixture on your dynasty roster as well.
- Zach Ertz – Seemed like forever that Zach Ertz was a highly touted TE that couldn’t produce. Well that all changed in 2017 as Zach finished as the #3 TE despite a few missed games. Forever a favorite of mine, Ertz will continue to build off his solid 2017 and deliver a repeat performance at #3. I would move him into my top 2 if I were more certain on the health and productivity of Carson Wentz.
- Rob Gronkowski – Gronk has been atop of this list for many years. The reality is if he plays 16 games this year he likely tops it again. The likelihood of that is pretty low. Gronk has two seasons in his career in which he has played all 16 games. In 8 seasons he has missed 26 games to injury or suspension. I will give Gronk his average games played this year of 13, combined with his career averages per season; 60 catches, 897 yards, & 9.5 TDs. Those numbers translate to 206.7 fantasy points. 206.7 would have put Gronk at #2 last season slightly ahead of Zach Ertz. Look for Gronk to do the same this year.
- Travis Kelce – Last year’s #1 TE is in position to put forth a repeat performance. Kelce is a gifted athlete in an offense that was the only offense to produce a top 12 fantasy scorer at all four fantasy positions (QB, RB, TE, & WR) last season. It’s unclear as to what KC has in Patrick Mahomes, however, I like the first year starting QB to target and find his big TE with regularity.
Breakout Tight End
Mike Gesicki – I have been guilty of developing a man crush on a player a little prematurely than I should in the past. Perhaps I am doing that again. I’m a big fan of his size (6’6” 252lb), and his pass catching abilities. Gesicki caught 105 passes in his final two years at Penn State. Head Coach Adam Gase loves his TE’s and adds to that the fact that Jarvis Landry is no longer in the slot, those target and catches are sure to be up for grabs. I would not be surprised at all if Mike Gesicki finds himself as a top 12 TE in his rookie season. I am targeting him in every draft I do this year.
Tight End Bust
Jack Doyle – The number 7 TE from a year ago has a destiny with regression this season. The Colts added Eric Ebron to the mix, and there is the uncertainty of starting QB Andrew Luck. Jack Doyle will be extremely hard-pressed to duplicate the 80 catch 690 & 4 season from a year ago.