Here’s my contribution towards QB List’s bold prediction week. As you already know, these are not meant to come true in order to be really bold. I’m a huge Forest Gump fan, so the theme of these predictions is “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” What follows is a list of the players I’ve fallen in love with (and sometimes out of love) during my draft prep.
Jimmy Garoppolo Finishes As A Top 5 QB
Jimmy Garoppolo is the first player I fell in love with this off-season. “Me and Jimmy were like peas and carrots.” Just 12 months ago Garoppolo was being drafted as QB10 at pick 100. Fast forward to today and Jimmy can be had as QB21 at pick 155. This value is what piqued my interest from the start.
Looking at the 49ers offense, they have an unspectacular group who are easy to under-rate. George Kittle is a clear top three tight-end, but after that, guys like Dante Pettis and Tevin Coleman don’t exactly scream superstar. However, even with Nick Mullens under center, Pettis averaged 15.9 PPR points (WR11) over the five games he started following their bye week. Speaking of Nick Mullens, over the eight games he was under center for the 49ers, he ranked as QB16 in points scored.
As reported by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Shapiro, following his torn ACL, Garoppolo spent 15 hours a week having one-on-one film study with Mike Shanahan. I fully expect Garoppolo to come into this year with a chip on his shoulder and the knowledge he needs to take a big leap. At the minimum, I’m drafting a quarterback who should easily outperform his draft position; if things go right I could see Garoppolo taking a giant step into fantasy stardom.
Chris Carson Finishes As A Top 8 RB
On June 4th, OC Brian Schottenheimer was quoted saying, “Run, Forest, Run!” Okay, fine, that wasn’t the exact quote, but he did reinforce the Seahawks intention of keeping a run-heavy approach in 2019.
At 52.44%, the Seahawks were the only team in the league that ran the ball more often than they passed in 2018. Chris Carson took over as the lead back in week three of 2018 and played 11 games down the stretch, missing just two to minor injuries. Over this span, he averaged 15.5 PPR points per game. Assuming a full 16 games, that would be 248 points which would’ve placed him at RB9 last year.
There’s going to be a decent amount of push-back about this prediction via Rashaad Penny, but I truly believe both can exist and thrive in the Seahawks’ run-heavy system. Here’s a breakdown of the 2018 backfield touches:
With Mike Davis no longer in the picture, there’s potential here for two 1,000-yard backs. I could see the breakdown going 275 carries and 35 targets for Carson and 170 carries and 45 targets to Penny with Carson being the primary goal-line back. The line of 305 touches, 1,525 total yards, and 10 touchdowns would be 242.5 fantasy points, which is right around RB9 last year.
Curtis Samuel Outperforms D.J. Moore
Once upon a time, at the beginning of draft season, this was even bolder then it is today. Then it felt like something just jumped up and bit me (Samuel’s ADP). Thanks to the news of third-year receiver Curtis Samuel receiving rave reviews during the off-season for his improved route running, Samuel’s ADP has jumped up to 107.0, with D.J. Moore‘s ADP sitting at 58.8.
Curtis Samuel missed four of the first five weeks of the 2018 season following a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. When he finally hit the field, he made a big step forward in his sophomore season, after an injury-plagued rookie season in 2017. Here’s the comparison from Week 5 on:
Samuel ranked as WR28 in PPR scoring, putting up 10.5 points per game. In that same time-span, D.J. Moore ranked as WR24, averaging 11.0 points per game.
This isn’t a knock against D.J. Moore, but more-so the difference in ADP. Given the news about Samuel’s off-season improvements, I’d much rather grab Samuel as WR41, almost 50 picks after D.J. Moore comes off the board as WR26.
Chris Herndon Finishes As A Top 10 TE Despite Suspension
On July 12th, the league handed down a four-game suspension to Chris Herndon following a DUI arrest last June. It was previously anticipated that the suspension would be just two games and Herndon has appealed, so keep an eye on that situation. As a rookie, Herndon finished with a solid 59 targets for 39 receptions, 502 yards, and four scores totaling 113.2 PPR points in 14 games. The tight-end landscape falls off a cliff just like it did last year.
Following a week five inactive, Herndon took a step forward–averaging 10.2 PPR points per game–which placed him as TE7 down the stretch. If we extrapolate that production out to 14 games, we’re looking at 64 targets leading to 46 catches for 625 yards and 5 TDs. That’s 138.5 PPR points, or TE8 in 2018. Even if we reduce that to 12 games, we’re looking at 122.4 PPR points, or TE13.
Herndon is currently being drafted as TE21 in PPR drafts as pick 183.4, giving you the ability to draft (or add of the waiver wire following the suspension) a potential top ten tight-end with minimal cost.
Le’Veon Bell Does Not Finish As A Top 20 RB
Now, my mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on, but the Le’Veon Bell situation from last year is pretty unprecedented: there have only been a handful of times a player has sat out the entire season. Bell now enters his age-27 season a full 20 months from his last NFL action and I’m skeptical of him being able to just hit the field and dominate again.
First off, we haven’t seen him in game action for a little over a year and a half. While I don’t know what Le’Veon Bell did during that time off, I find it hard to believe he was able to keep his body NFL ready without practicing against NFL players.
Second, we have to call a spade a spade and acknowledge the dramatic difference in strength of offense he’s going to. You’re talking about going from a team that put up the third most yards from scrimmage in 2017–thanks to a team of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Shuster, and Ben Roethlisberger–to the Jets who ranked 28th in the league in yards in 2018. A future hall of fame quarterback to sophomore Sam Darnold.
Finally, know who’s offensive line ranks 28th according to Pro Football Focus? Here’s a hint, it’s not the Steelers, who rank third overall. Bell will be tasked with finding holes behind an offensive line that is rated among the worst in the league.
For these reasons, I’m taking a pass on Bell in the first-round this year. That’s all I have to say about that.
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)