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Justin Carter's Bold Predictions - 2019 Fantasy Football


It's bold prediction SZN and I am ready!

This is the space for going out on a limb and making predictions that you're only maybe 10 percent sure will happen, but 100 percent sure that you want to happen. This is where, last year, I confidently proclaimed Patrick Mahomes a top-five fantasy quarterback before, umm, not rostering him in any leagues. Remember, people on the Internet who might read this column a year from now and use it to say "look at how bad Justin is at fantasy football," that these predictions are meant to be out there. I'll probably go 1-for-5 or something on them. It's fine. It happens.

But if you're ready to take that risk and follow my wild advice, here we go. One of these five things will happen. Two could. Three...I mean, look, if three of my bold predictions come then we're going to have a party and all y'all are invited. And if we get all five, I'm riding off into the sunset because this is my crowning achievement.

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Josh Allen is a top-five fantasy quarterback

Piggybacking off last year's "Mahomes is a top-five fantasy quarterback" take, let's get even bolder with a Josh Allen take.

I remain thoroughly unconvinced of Josh Allen's throwing ability. Last year, he was 35th among quarterbacks in adjusted yards per attempt, 35th in true completion percentage, 47th in red zone completion percentage, and 35th in accuracy rating. Allen throwing a football was dangerous for the Bills.

But one of the big things that gets fantasy quarterbacks value is their ability as a runner, and last year Allen adapted to his arm struggles by becoming the most dangerous running quarterback in the league for a stretch. Over the final six weeks of the season, Allen ran for 476 yards on 54 attempts and scored five rushing touchdowns. He also passed for over 200 yards in five of those six games, as the threat of him running the ball opened up some things offensively for the pass game.

Again, I don't think Allen can throw a ball very accurately, but the Bills have added two weapons that should make it look like he can. First, former Cowboys slot guy Cole Beasley should see a lot of work on short routes, and that'll help pad Allen's yardage total. And by adding John Brown, Allen -- who has the arm strength to throw deep even if he doesn't quite have the accuracy -- has someone to target on long routes, and Brown should bring in enough of those to help Allen out. That combination of improved pass numbers and sustained success as a runner gets him into the final top-five.

(You might wonder my thoughts on another run first quarterback, Lamar Jackson. I think Jackson has an outside shot at finishing this high as well, but Baltimore doesn't really have a deep threat for him that I like and I think we'll see a good number of Jackson's red zone rushing attempts replaced by Mark Ingram red zone rushing attempts. But Jackson can easily be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year. 2019: the year of the young rushing quarterback.)

 

Leonard Fournette catches at least 55 passes

A weird thing happened this offseason. The Jaguars let T.J. Yeldon -- who had 55 receptions last year -- walk and they replaced him with rookie Ryquell Armstead and veteran plodder Alfred Blue. Neither of those guys are known to be threats in the receiving game, though, which leaves the best pass-catching back in Jacksonville being...

Uhh, Leonard Fournette?

Fournette has 58 total catches over two years in the league and has mainly been used as a power back, run run run kind of guy. But Fournette had an 84.6 percent catch rate last season, suggesting that he can be a sure-handed option for Nick Foles to go to in the short passing game.

Foles has shown a tendency to look for his running back in the past as well. In five games last year, Foles targeted Darren Sproles 20 times, making Sproles his third-most targeted receiver. In 2015, when he played 11 games for the Rams, Benny Cunningham and Todd Gurley combined to be targeted 48 times by Foles.

The Jaguars also are counting on Geoff Swaim at tight end this year. I remain thoroughly unconvinced of Swaim's ability to be a consistently productive NFL player, and I see Fournette gobbling up some of those short throws that you'd usually see the tight end getting.

 

Josh Gordon plays 16 games

Injury caveat here, as I'm not talking about Josh Gordon getting hurt.

Gordon played in 16 games as a rookie in 2012 and then never did it again. He's been suspended an uncountable number of times for violating the NFL's substance abuse policies.

But Gordon is back this year, and I really believe this is the year that Gordon stays on the field for a full season. He should finish as a WR2 at the very least if he plays a complete season, so if you're willing to take the risk that he doesn't get suspended again, Gordon could really pay off.

(I wrote a lot more about Gordon right after his reinstatement, by the way. Check it out here.)

 

Albert Wilson's living up to the hype, y'all!

I am a well-known admirer of Albert Wilson, to the point where I drafted him in dynasty back when he was still playing for the Chiefs. I wrote about him before last season as a fantasy sleeper, but that crashed when Wilson suffered a hip injury that ended his season.

But Wilson showed off his impressive speed before that injury, showing the league that he has the ability to break off big plays. He got some hype behind him after that, and a lot of people were projecting him to do big things this season.

That hype was (justifiably) met with skepticism. Wilson plays for the Miami Dolphins, a team that either will start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick or second-year quarterback Josh Rosen, who was traded to Miami despite being a first-rounder last year. Neither option inspires confidence.

But then, someone has to produce on this team. Are we betting on Devante Parker or Kenny Stills breakouts? Do we really think Preston Williams is ready?

And Wilson's numbers are wild despite the fact that Miami was bad at quarterback last year too. Among wide receivers, he was third in yards per target, third in yards per pass route, eighth in catch rate, first in fantasy points per pass route, and second in fantasy points per target.

I, umm...remember why I was so hyped on him.

Wilson's finishing this season as a top-24 wide receiver.

 

Kareem Hunt loses you a playoff game

Here's the thing about Kareem Hunt: he was really good with the Chiefs.

But Andy Reid offenses have a knack for turning guys into productive runners. Heck, the fantasy world's has spent all year talking about Damien Williams and how he might not be good, even though he was productive after Hunt was suspended. Everyone is obsessed with how Darwin Thompson's looked in the preseason. Carlos Hyde...well, there are always exceptions.

Hunt's a good back, but I think he's gotten a boost from Reid and the Chiefs' offensive line. Last year, Hunt was 18th in yards created per carry, while Browns started Nick Chubb was eighth. Essentially, this shows that Chubb was better at creating yards beyond what the line blocked for him than Hunt was.

Chubb is the guy in Cleveland. When Hunt arrives, the Browns aren't going to suddenly say "yeah, Nick, you're in a 50-50 committee now." We'll see Hunt get some snaps and usage, but he's not going to be putting up consistently strong numbers.

But someone reading this has Hunt, and they remember how good he's been, and they're going to start Kareem Hunt in the fantasy playoffs, and Kareem Hunt's going to do something like five carries for 19 yards and two catches for 13 yards, and it's going to cost you a win. Don't do it. Don't start Hunt in the playoffs.

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