Football starts this week! The wait is over, and I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve done research, mock drafts, real drafts, and now it’s time to watch all of our hard work and preparation come to fruition on the field. This is my favorite part of the football season because nothing any analyst or fan suggests nor predicts is wrong…yet.
In this article, you’ll see some wildly bold calls that go against the grain in the fantasy community, but I think are possible. Some are more ludicrous than others, but hopefully more come true than my Bold Calls article last season. (No Bryce Brown predictions this time I swear.) I took each team and made a call independently.
Remember, I don’t think ALL of these things are likely, just that they could happen. Without further ado; here are my Bold Calls of the 2015 fantasy football season:
Arizona Cardinals: Andre Ellington finishes 15 spots behind his positional ADP.
Ellington is being drafted right where he finished last year, as the 19th RB. The Cardinals tried to make Ellington their feature back in 2014 by giving him over 200 touches in the first 10 games and he confirmed the suspicion that he couldn’t handle it, getting sports hernia surgery midseason. The Cardinals draft David Johnson to compensate and he expects to be the goal line back. Ellington’s 5’9” frame and durability concern makes me wonder if he starts to get phased in as a third down, change of pace back, and gets less than 210 touches all season. Oh yea…and Chris Johnson?
Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones never has a single digit fantasy week.
If you’ve read anything this preseason you know the fantasy world is ecstatic about the potential of Julio. I got to the bandwagon late, but Julio’s 11 targets per game could further increase with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays. The rumors of the Falcons running more only effects the value of Roddy White…Jones will still be the focal point of this offense. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he catches 14 TDs, and because of that week to week, matchup proof upside, I think Jones puts up 200+ fantasy points this season and never scores less than 10 in a week.
Baltimore Ravens: Justin Forsett finishes outside the top 25 for RBs and isn’t even the starter by the team’s week 9 bye.
Forsett was a revelation as a top 10 RB last year and was a savior to fantasy teams, but I think Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme had a lot to do with it. Marc Trestman comes in and loves throwing to the RB as we saw in Chicago, but I think people overestimate the length of the 29 year old Forsett’s leash. If Taliaferro is healthy he looks to be the favorite for goal line work and with Buck Allen also being an intriguing receiving threat out of the backfield, I predict a RBBC halfway through the fantasy season.
Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy will have less than 4 rushing TDs.
If you owned McCoy last season and I told you he finished RB 12 last year you’d say it sure didn’t feel like it, as McCoy was one of the biggest enigmas in fantasy last season. The naming of Tyrod Taylor as the starting QB certainly helps the offense, but doesn’t solve the problem of an extremely stacked box against this offense. The Bills only had 7 rushing TDs as a team last year and I’m not impressed by Rex Ryan’s “ground and pound attack” as nobody should be. With Buffalo’s inability to stretch the field, I predict McCoy will once again be one of the most frustrating owns in fantasy this season and won’t finish within ten spots of his ADP despite the plethora of touches.
Carolina Panthers: Greg Olsen catches 10 TDs for the first time in his career.
I love Greg Olsen, and the regrettable injury to Benjamin makes me love him more. 122 targets in 2014 is sure to go up, and it’s obvious that he will be Cam’s favorite end zone threat. I think the Panthers stay afloat without Benjamin and Greg Olsen easily justifies that early 5th round ADP.
Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery finishes outside the top 25 and Eddie Royal picks up the slack.
There’s something fishy about Jeffrey’s calf injury. Rumors of a contract dispute and an overall lack of information throughout the preseason are a huge cause for concern when drafting a receiver in the first two rounds. Yet the Bears have stayed quiet, and Alshon kept an early third round ADP. Now people are speculating he will miss week 1 and with Kevin White also having an underplayed season ending injury Eddie Royal could start week 1 as the Bears #1 WR on the depth chart. Don’t forget, Royal’s best season was with Cutler at the helm in Denver. I don’t think Jeffrey will end up with double digit TDs in that tumultuous Chicago offense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Both Hill and Bernard finish as top 15 RBs.
Hill broke out as the obvious star, but even when Bernard got back from injury Gio averaged over 13 touches per game. For a RB with big play ability, I think that workload is enough to give Bernard a big season in a year where again, the RB pool becomes even more shallow. It seems obvious that in addition to AJ Green, these two feature backs are the focal point of the Cincy offense, and if Dalton struggles after getting that big contract, look for an even stronger lean toward the run game to take the pressure off.
Cleveland Browns: Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson become one of the best fantasy tandem backfields in the league.
What an idiot I am, I’ve accepted this already, but what people don’t realize is that the Browns offensive line is elite. Yes, something in Cleveland is elite. Last season even after an Alex Mack injury, ProFootballFocus ranked the Browns OL as #7 in the NFL in run blocking. The Browns lack of a passing attack could hinder this theory, but I think it’s possible these two backs get 12-13 TDs between them. I think if you add up their fantasy point totals at the end of the season, they’ll equal a top 5 fantasy back.
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo finishes as a top 3 fantasy QB.
Romo finished as the #11 QB last year, but missed a game and a half and was only 18 points behind the #7 QB, which is encouraging. The loss of Demarco Murray will certainly change the Cowboys game plan but the emergence of Dez Bryant as the best WR in football, and the sleeper potential of Cole Beasley/Joseph Randle in the short game gives me googly eyes for Romo and the Boys. Not to mention, according to NFL.com Romo has the second easiest schedule for all fantasy QBS this year. I also expect both the Colts and the Packers to run the ball slightly more and create a little more parity at the top of the QB pool.
Denver Broncos: Owen Daniels is a top 5 TE this season.
Uh, Peyton Manning starting tight ends should always be drafted yet Daniels isn’t getting universal love in the fantasy community. Also remember that Gary Kubiak is the new OC in Denver, and he loves the TE, especially Daniels, who was Kubiak’s TE for all 8 of his seasons of the Texans head coach and last year with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniels may not have the talent Julius Thomas did to catch 24 TDs in two seasons, but this will hands down be the best QB and situation Daniels has ever been in to have fantasy success.
Detroit Lions: Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell finish inverse of their ADPs (RB 18,34)
As of the start of September, Abdullah is the first rookie RB taken off the board in PPR drafts. I get that he’s a receiving threat, but the Lions listed an injured Joique Bell at the top of their depth chart for a reason. He’s still the goal line back, still involved in the passing game and don’t forget about Theo Riddick in that backfield as well. I don’t think the Abdullah hype is justified and I bet Abdullah most helps the 2015 Lions through special teams play.
Green Bay Packers: Richard Rodgers is a top 7 TE.
Rodgers currently going as TE 14 after the Nelson injury so the word is getting out. There’s roughly 16 TDs to be spread around with Nelson and Quarless being non-factors this season and while I think Rodgers is only second or third in line to benefit from that, the preseason showed he can be a very effective red zone target. I don’t think it’s ridiculous that Rodgers pulls in 7 to 8 TDs this year as Aaron Rodgers will have to spread the ball around more.
Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins finishes as the 6th best WR.
This dude is a freak. 211 career targets, 4 drops. That’s a great ratio for a guy who’s had 8 different QBs throw to him (I bet you can only name 4). In his two seasons in Houston he has yet to miss a game. With Andre Johnson out, Hopkins is poised for a huge year, even with Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball. With (slightly) more consistent QB play in Houston I anticipate Hopkins to improve on last season’s 1210 and 6 TD campaign with a slight uptick in targets.
Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore finally fades, getting less than 200 touches and less than 1000 total yds.
Not only do I think the Colts RB situation will be cursed since the Richardson trade (worst trade in NFL history?) but I think it’s finally time Gore catches up with himself. I expect him to be the primary goal line back, but with Herron going down preseason, the Colts would be crazy to put all their eggs in a 32 yr old RB’s basket. After all, only twice has a 32 yr old rushed for 1,000 yds.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars D/ST will finish in the top 12.
Kill me after, but hear me out. The Jaguars had some serviceable weeks as a fantasy defense ranking 6th in the league with 45 sacks, but last in team turnovers and close to last in time of possession. With the Jaguars offense poised for an improvement, this team could be involved in a few more close games, those stats should improve. Dante Fowler going down hurts, but the Jaguars improvement as a team could make this underrated defense a matchup based streamer more regularly.
Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith throws 25 TDs and 3,500 yds for the first time in his career.
The past two seasons in KC, Smith had the best years of his career in terms of both production and efficiency with not many pass catching weapons. The reunion of Jeremy Maclin and Andy Reid finally gives Smith a viable target in the receiving corps and the emergence of Travis Kelce should put the Chiefs offense over the edge in my opinion, making Smith the primary beneficiary.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins will have a QB, RB,WR, and TE rank in the top 10 at their positions in PPR formats.
If you read or listen to anything we write or record on this site, you know we love Ryan Tannehill and we love Lamar Miller, as should you, but regardless it’s time to accept it: 2015 is the breakout for these Dolphins. I think Jarvis Landry is incredibly underrated and Tannehill and OC Bill Lazor seem to agree after his impressive rookie campaign for 84 catches and 5 TDs. I think The addition of Jordan Cameron will make the Dolphins forget about Mike Wallace and with injury concerns surrounding rookie Davante Parker and new acquisition Kenny Stills, I think Landry and Cameron are the top targets for who I predict to be a top 10 QB in Tannehill. I predict Landry and Cameron to have 105, and 60 receptions, respectively.
Minnesota Vikings: Charles Johnson exceeds 1000 yards and be a top 15 WR.
Could Johnson be what everyone desperately wanted Cordarelle Patterson to be in 2014? I think so, and I believe Norv Turner thinks so too. Add his 4.4 speed and 6’2” frame to an impressive preseason and Johnson could quickly become Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target… Oh wait, Teddy already said that he thinks Johnson is the best WR on the team. The Vikings will look to feed this playmaker the ball, after averaging over 15 yds per catch in 2014.
New England Patriots: Travaris Cadet wins somebody a fantasy league.
I was shocked when the Pats let Vereen walk, but I’ve accepted Belichick is all knowing and has a plan to fill that vital role of scat back/check down option. Cadet is versatile and had over 20 targets last year with the Saints where he lined up in the slot or at WR. Tom Brady doesn’t exactly stretch the field anymore and I think Cadet will carve out a role for himself sooner than later in that offense. He’s the perfect weapon for Brady and Belichick and in a backfield where an RBs role is never clear, I think Cadet has the most defined role by midseason.
New Orleans Saints: Marques Colston will be a top 20 WR and catch 9 TDs.
The Saints will run the ball more, but Drew Brees is still his QB coming off a season where the Saints were second in the league in pass attempts. The loss of Jimmy Graham opens a role for the top red zone threat and if Colston stays healthy, I think he gets the majority of those endzone targets. I wrote an article on my Colston love earlier this year: https://www.letstalkfantasyfootball.com/2015/06/04/saints-fantasy-value-2015/
New York Giants: Eli Manning (QB 13) finishes better than his brother Peyton Manning (QB 3).
I alluded to QB schedules earlier in regards to Romo, well right behind him Eli has the third easiest for a fantasy QB this season. If you love Odell Beckham and Shane Vereen (I do) then you gotta believe Eli and Ben McAdoo do. I believe Peyton is poised for a big drop off and the new weapons surrounding Eli make him a high upside choice I’m fine having as my fantasy starter.
New York Jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick starts the whole season, throws 20+ INTs, but makes Brandon Marshall AND Eric Decker top 25 WRs.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Eric Decker, is that he’s better as the No. 2 WR. Between Decker and a healthy Marshall, I think Fitzpatrick is the perfect fit for this team that needs a capable veteran to throw to these guys. The Jets have a good chance to make some noise this season and I think Fitzpatrick’s leash is longer than fans may want to accept if he struggles, partially due to lack of options. I expect this Fitzpatrick to convert 16-17 TDs to this receiving duo.
Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper has 100 receptions but less than 3 TDs.
The #4 overall pick by Oakland is destined to be a fantasy stud, but I think on a Raiders team with more seasoned receivers like Crabtree and Streater, Cooper has a hard time finding the end zone. I think he will be PPR flex worthy and wouldn’t be surprised if he finished with 900 yds, but with Derek Carr still raw, I think he and Cooper’s connection will be more feared…in the future, making Cooper a matchup based flex play by mid season.
Philadelphia Eagles: Demarco Murray is the number one RB….again.
In no way do I think Murray will replicate that 2,200 yds from scrimmage or rush almost 400 times, but I think Murray can still be extremely effective with a reduced workload. Despite losing that feared Dallas O-line, I think Chip Kelly will find ways to put Murray in situations to excel. He will be the primary goal line back on a team that runs the most offensive plays each year, and the presence of Ryan Mathews is actually good for Murray’s durability I believe. Besides, if Murray has 13 scores, it’s very possible he repeats as the best back in fantasy.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger finishes outside the top 12 and has fantasy owners wondering why the hell they drafted him in the 6th round.
People drafting Big Ben early are making a cardinal fantasy mistake, drafting based on what he’s done in the recent past, not what he SHOULD do in the near future. Two of his three biggest offensive weapons are suspended to start the year and Roethlisberger’s 2014 season was skewed by two 6 TD games last season which is neither predictable nor sustainable. Also remember, 2013 and 2014 are the only consecutive seasons Ben has played all 16 games. You can’t predict a guy to get hurt, but you can certainly consider it when drafting a QB in the 6th. To me it’s crazy that Roethlisberger is QB5 and I expect him to level out this year.
San Diego Chargers: Malcom Floyd is the highest scoring Chargers pass catcher.
He led the team in receiving yds last season and is the only one to date Philip Rivers as long as Antonio Gates, who is suspended for the first 4 games. I don’t exactly believe that Keenan Allen will fully bounce back after doing less than Floyd last season with almost 30 more targets. The addition of Stevie Johnson just muddles things in this receiving corps and with Floyd being the longest tenured, and the most recently consistent, I like his upside more than his ADP reflects, which is in the 70s at WR.
San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde has a better season in 2015 than Frank Gore had in 2014.
They both scored the same amount of rushing TDs last year, and while I know there are O-line and even just general team concerns surrounding the Niners, I think Hyde is capable of surpassing Gore’s 135 point season last year. Reggie Bush doesn’t scare me and Hyde’s 4.0 yds per carry in the backup role was encouraging.
*Bonus prediction*: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the most overused wordplay in the NFL this season.
St. Louis Rams: Todd Gurley doesn’t get more than 90 carries during the fantasy regular season (through week 14).
I bet you don’t see him until after the week 6 bye and even then, a rookie coming off an ACL tear, missing all of training camp, and barely seeing contact for 3 months does not give me any confidence in him. I think Gurley will one day be a fantasy star, but to be drafted as the 26th RB ahead of fellow rookie TJ Yeldon and Tevin Coleman who are week 1 starters to me is ridiculous.
Seattle Seahawks: Jimmy Graham finishes outside the top 4 TEs and catches less than 800 yds for the first time since his rookie season.
Rather than explain this, I would suggest listening to our podcast or better yet, checking out my colleague Walsh’s article about why Jimmy Graham is going way too high in drafts this year.
I think I speak for the group when I say Graham is overrated and it seems going from a Saints team that ranked second in pass attempts last season to the Seahawks who were last and have a declining O-Line, it would be impossible for Graham to match his production in New Orleans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bobby Rainey is yet again, the best Bucs RB to own.
You look at Rainey’s 2014 season and say: “Wow he only had two total touchdowns and 721 yds from scrimmage? For some reason I thought he was the best fantasy back in TB last year.” You’re not wrong, he was. Doug Martin is just THAT terrible. Josh McCown led the TEAM in RUSHING TDs with 3!!! I would suggest that this prediction isn’t that bold since it actually happened last year, but for some reason DOUG MARTIN IS STILL GOING AT RB 16! I know, Martin only played 11 games last year but his 3.7 yds per carry and 13 receptions is so incredibly underwhelming that I trust Rainey’s 4.3 YPC and big play ability way more.
Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota is a top 15 QB and one of the most streamed QBs this season.
Mariota has had a very nice preseason and there’s quietly some intriguing targets in the Tennessee passing attack. Rookie Green-Beckham, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker and ever sneaky Harry Douglas is not a bad group of pass catchers. The two things I think a rookie QB needs to succeed in fantasy are a capable, preferably veteran, tight end and the ability to run. Mariota has both. I’m not saying to draft Mariota, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he surprises a lot of people throughout a favorable Titans schedule.
Washington Redskins: DeSean Jackson will be one of the most consistent WRs outside the top 10.
I’ll admit when I typed this it seemed ridiculous, and it is, but I think Kirk Cousins greatly boosts the value of DJax. In the 6 games Cousins started last year, Jackson caught three of his 6 TDs and is a garbage time savior. Not to mention Cousins love to throw the deep ball for some reason. With some clarity as to who is going to start every week at QB for Jay Gruden’s vertical passing offense, Jackson should eclipse 100 targets. One last tidbit: All of Jackson’s 2014 TDs came in Redskins’ losses, (proving the garbage time theory) and if there’s one thing I predict the Redskins to do this season, it’s lose.
Agree? Disagree? Have your own bold calls? Let us know at LTFF, we always love chatting about fantasy.
This first photo above is courtesy of and copyrighted by Josh Hallet via Flickr. This is used in accordance with Creative Commons laws, was not altered in any way and all rights are reserved by Josh Hallet.