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Bold Predictions for 2018 Fantasy Football - Justin Carter


When our lead editor, Pierre Camus, asked me to contribute to this year's bold predictions, I was extremely excited. If there's one thing I am very good at it's making bold predictions, although I'm not as good at the whole "having those predictions come true" part.

I've got five bold predictions for you today. Will all five end up panning out? Of course not! But I have reasons why I believe in all five of these things and when the season ends I'll be very, very sad if I don't hit on at least one or two of them.

Don't forget to check out our other pieces in the bold predictions series, with more coming out every day in the lead up to the regular season. Maybe we'll get a few things right!

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!

 

Justin Carter's Bold Predictions

Patrick Mahomes will be a top-five fantasy quarterback

I originally wrote "top eight," but that didn't feel like a hot take since Mahomes is already being drafted as the QB15 according to Fantasy Football Calculator, so let's get bold here.

Mahomes takes over an offense that has one of the league's best tight ends, Travis Kelce, and one of the league's fastest wide receivers and top deep threats, Tyreek Hill. Running back Kareem Hunt can be dangerous as a receiver as well and the team added another talented receiver in Sammy Watkins. This is a really strong supporting cast for Mahomes in his first year as a starting quarterback. Alex Smith finished QB3 last season with a worse version of this team.

Mahomes also has a really good arm. I don't want to end up repeating myself too much here because I already wrote an entire piece on here about Mahomes and his ability to air the ball out this year, so if you have time you can click here and give this a read.

Lamar Miller finishes as an RB1

The ever-disappointing Lamar Miller will be much less disappointing in 2018 -- as long as quarterback Deshaun Watson remains healthy. Here, look at this tweet:

Our own Mark Wemken pointed out that Miller averaged almost 15 fantasy points per game with Watson. That was also at a time when D'Onta Foreman was healthy and taking some snaps away from Miller. If we only take into account the games Watson started (so, we get rid of that weird Week 1 with Tom Savage playing the first half), Miller was RB8. YES YES YES I want Lamar Miller.

Now, I get it. We've got years of evidence to suggest that maybe Lamar Miller isn't that good. But his backups include Foreman, who is coming off an Achilles tear and will miss the first six games on the PUP list, Alfred Blue, and, uhh, I guess Tyler Ervin and Troymaine Pope? Miller has full control of this backfield. Ervin could see work on passing downs, but he's coming back off a torn patellar and didn't impress during the preseason. Until Foreman is ready to go -- and coming back from an Achilles injury is a tough one, with no guarantees that he even can come back and be the same player he looked capable of being as a rookie -- Miller has full control over this backfield. The only thing that can mess it up is...ugh, Bill O'Brien is going to end up running Alfred Blue right into a defender multiple times per game, isn't he?

(He's not. I am trusting O'Brien to not fall back onto Blue. Miller is going to have a big year.)

Ricky Seals-Jones is a top-10 fantasy tight end

I'm back on this Cardinals thing again, even after my prediction last year that Blaine Gabbert and Ricky Seals-Jones were the future for Arizona didn't exactly pan out. That Gabbert part was dumb, but I fully believe in RSJ this season.

Why? Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. McCoy spent four years as the head coach in San Diego, working with one of the all-time great tight ends, Antonio Gates. While Seals-Jones is obviously no Gates, we do know that McCoy knows how to design offenses that get the tight end involved. We also know that Seals-Jones is the lead tight end in Arizona now, is fast and possesses the ability to be a downfield target on an offense that doesn't have a major downfield threat, and was productive in his limited time on the field last season. The opportunities are there for Seals-Jones to make a major impact in his second NFL season.

Russell Wilson finishes outside the top 10 at quarterback

Conventional wisdom would suggest that Seattle's lack of weapons, lack of a quality offensive line, and defensive struggles will mean Russell Wilson will have the ball in his hands a lot and should have another season as a top-five fantasy quarterback.

But wait just a second. The Seahawks have, according to Pro Football Focus, the 30th ranked offensive line heading into the season. Their best wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, is nursing a knee issue that he's already said will affect him all season. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny will get more chances to run the ball early in games this year and while the Seahawks figure to be playing from behind a ton, I'm not sure they have the personnel to put up the big numbers they have in the past. The passing touchdown numbers won't be there and we'll be looking at something that resembles Wilson's 2016 campaign, when he finished as the QB12.

The 2018 version of 2017 Amari Cooper will be Brandin Cooks

We all remember Amari Cooper last season. Talented, young receiver. Poised to break out, but ends up having the worst season of his career. Cooper finished the season with 48 catches, 680 yards, and seven touchdowns, but two games really buoyed that stat line -- an 11-catch, 210-yard, one-touchdown game against the Chiefs, and then a three-catch, 115-yard, one-TD game against the Chargers.

There will be a 2018 version of Cooper. There's always a player who should put up strong numbers and then, for whatever reason, doesn't. This year that player is Brandin Cooks.

Cooks comes to a Rams team with far, far too many mouths to feed. Running back Todd Gurley is one of the NFL's best at his position and will command touches this year. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp is an efficient option in the slot. Receiver Robert Woods played in just 12 games last season, finishing with 781 yards and five touchdowns. He's healthy and was quarterback Jared Goff's main option last season despite the presence of Sammy Watkins. Where does Cooks fit in?

Last year, Watkins recorded eight touchdowns, but two of those came in a game against the 49ers where the Rams offense was on fire and three of them came while Woods wasn't in the lineup. I don't think the Rams can sustain three fantasy-relevant receivers. Cooks finished with over 1,000 yards last season, but he was lacking in the week-to-week consistently that you want to see from a receiver who was in his fourth season. His catch rate dropped to a career-low 57 percent. It's possible that he ends up being the top receiver for the Rams, but I can also foresee a path where Cooks looks like Watkins did last year.

 

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