Training camp is underway, fans are in attendance, and the fantasy season is quickly approaching. Being bold can play major not only on draft night but also through the waiver wire and trades. Here are some predictions I believe will come to life for each skill position.
Amari Cooper will have a top-ten fantasy finish
Health is wealth has always been the case for Dallas WR Amari Cooper, and as long as he can stay on the field, I foresee a top-ten fantasy finish this season. Disclaimer: his production will no doubt hinge on the health of returning QB Dak Prescott. That said, Cooper has had five 1K+ receiving yard seasons in his six-year career, and I’m not ready to label him a cast-off, even with CeeDee Lamb emerging as the team’s inevitable WR1. This offense will remain pass-heavy, and look for the volume to be there for Cooper more weeks than not. Although Cooper is currently on the Cowboys PUP list to open up training camp, head coach Mike McCarthy has recently noted his status to be “in really good shape” and trending positively with Week 1 a few weeks away.
Pittsburgh rookie Pat Freiermuth will be a top-five TE
It’s notoriously hard for rookie tight ends to shine, but Pat Freiermuth will play a pivotal role for the Steelers, and ultimately finish as a top-five TE. The 2nd rounder out of Penn State was a red-zone weapon for the Natty Lions, and Pittsburgh plans to deploy him alongside veteran Eric Ebron plenty. We know a Ben Roethlisberger-led offense will see a high percentage of passing – especially with the departure of RB James Conner – and so I see a clear avenue for Freiermuth to shine. He’s impressing early in camp and is even shining a bit in his blocking game. The more he excels when asked to block, the more I see Big Ben showing trust and with that, reward in his target share.
Antonio Gibson will finish as a top-five RB
Sticking with a top-five theme, every season we have players who outperform their ADP, and I’m calling for the top to do so to be Washington running back Antonio Gibson. Per Fantasy Pros, Gibson is currently pegged as the consensus #13 RB in Standard leagues, #12 in full-point PPR, and #11 in half-PPR. With really only J.D. McKissic threatening him for snaps, he won’t get in Gibson’s way throughout the duration of the season. What’s going to bring Gibson to a strong finish is his involvement in the pass-game. Last year, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 6.9 yards per reception as a receiver. The receptions weren’t all there for Gibson last season – 36 grabs for 247 yards and no touchdowns – but with Ryan Fitzpatrick set to be the Football Team’s starting QB, he’s the perfect passing compliment to a second-year RB looking to explode.
Rashod Bateman will have a better season than Marquise Brown
For years now, we’ve all avoided drafting Ravens wide receivers. They haven’t had a notable, strongly performing WR since Steve Smith Sr., and Marquise Brown has been a disappointment. No doubt, it has to do with the underwhelming pass game of dynamic QB Lamar Jackson to an extent, but Hollywood Brown has failed to make an impact when given the chance. Enter in rookie Rashod Bateman, who was selected 27th overall in this years draft. The rookie out of Minnesota is an early standout in Baltimore’s training camp, and that will go a long way as the Ravens look to implement more passing to their offense outside of the current top option in tight end Mark Andrews. For the simple fact that the Ravens knew they had to spend early draft capital on a skill player for Action Jackson, the outlook does not bode well for Brown, who finished with 58 receptions for 769 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
No Colt will finish in the top-15 of their position
Sorry Colts fans, you’re not going to want to read any further. With the recent surgery news for QB Carson Wentz and G Quenton Nelson, I’m inclined to not only feel Indy misses the playoffs, but their draft-worthy skill position players will NOT crack a top-15 finish for their position, respectively. Backup QB options Jacob Eason and Brett Hundley are not ready, nor are they viable options to lead this offense coming into a season with such promise behind it. We can’t expect RB Jonathan Taylor to do it all, and we should not expect the likes of WR Michael Pittman, T.Y. Hilton, and TE’s Jack Doyle and Mo-Alie Cox, to be able to produce. I’ll go out on a whim and even say K Rodrigo Blankenship’s production takes a massive hit, as the Colts will have a hard time moving the ball up the field.
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