It is the beginning of August, which typically symbolizes the beginning of analysis and predictions for the upcoming NFL Season. While most will use strategy and prior knowledge to help draft the best team possible, some fantasy football managers like to entertain the possibility of the more fun events that could transpire. In the writing that follows this introduction, I will detail some of my bold predictions for this year that could shake up this fantasy season.
Jalen Hurts Finishes As QB1
After a season where he lead his team on a surprising run to the playoffs, Jalen Hurts is poised for a big season. While many will point to his weaknesses as a passer, the addition of star receiver A.J. Brown will certainly serve to bolster the young quarterback’s chances of having an even bigger season. I may be in the minority in saying this, but is it really so farfetched to think that Hurts could put up 35 TDs and tack on another 10 TDs on the ground? Doing so would be an impressive campaign, in fact so impressive that Cam Newton won an MVP for putting up the same totals in 2015.
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the Eagles will dominate the NFL as a result of a Hurts season like this, but those who roster the soon-to-be 24-year-old signal-caller would surely be in contention for a league championship. Newton’s 2015 season ranks seventh all-time in terms of quarterback fantasy seasons, and second to only Lamar Jackson‘s 1,000-yard rushing season of quarterbacks to rush for at least 7 TDs. Second-year coach Nick Sirianni seems to trust Hurts, so why shouldn’t we?
CEH Breaks Out… Finally
It seems like it has been forever since Clyde Edwards-Helaire entered the league, but it has only been a couple of years since he was taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. There are a multitude of reasons that could attribute to this sense that the LSU product has been stuck in obscurity for so long. The combination of injury issues, lack of on-field production, and the Kansas City offense avoiding any significant fall-offs in his absences have definitely forced the ever impatient world of fantasy owners to pass him by. FantasyPros ranks him as the RB29, just behind the likes of Kareem Hunt and Chase Edmonds. Still, I don’t think all hope is lost for the third year back.
Expectations are reasonably low. In two seasons, Edwards-Helaire has only played 23 out of a possible 33 regular season games and has been inactive for two of their six playoff games since his joining the team. Helaire proved to be rather impressive in terms of getting the ball into the end zone with 3/4 of his scores coming from distances greater than 10 yards. However, his most recent season yielded the same amount of total touchdowns with none coming from a distance greater than 6 yards.
There is optimism to be had with Clyde, especially with respect to the passing game. The trade of primary weapon Tyreek Hill left a big void of targets (25.2%). Many expect Travis Kelce and newcomer Juju Smith-Schuster to eat up these throws from Patrick Mahomes. If we know anything about this Kansas City offense, it is that they love to move the ball quickly and spread it around. CEH taking advantage of this passing game is what will lead to his breakout, potentially landing him within the upper echelon of running backs.
Kyle Pitts Finishes as TE1… and as a Top 5 WR
The Falcons’ offense is decimated, awful, desolate, [insert synonyms for bad here]. If there is anyone that will make this team even remotely worth watching, it is their second-year tight end, Kyle Pitts.
Besides the hype that comes with being the highest drafted player at the tight end position since the draft was instituted in 1936, Pitts is really the only proven receiving option on this roster. Calvin Ridley, who is the only other person on the roster who has put up more than 650 receiving yards, has been handed a 17-game suspension for gambling. The next highest receiving yard total comes from Damiere Byrd who put up 604 yards with the Patriots in 2020. Rookie receiver Drake London and last year’s fantasy surprise Cordarelle Patterson should see a good share of targets, but not nearly as much as Pitts. Not to mention, Marcus Mariota is not necessarily known for his arm strength, increasing the likelihood of Pitts getting a lot of check-down looks on top of his designed plays.
Now, in regards to putting up Top 5 WR receiver numbers, Pitts really may not be as far off as one might think. Last year, he finished the season with 176.6 fantasy points, which would have placed him at WR35. The caveat; Pitts only scored one touchdown in his 17 games played. Scoring even one more touchdown would have moved him up to WR32, passing the likes of Kendrick Bourne, Marvin Jones Jr., and A.J. Brown.
Putting up top 5 receiving numbers is not unheard of for the position, however, as Travis Kelce would have been WR4 with his 2020 season. The combination of Pitts seeing a lot more of the targets and the unlikelihood that he will be kept to only one touchdown again makes this prediction more realistic than one may initially believe.
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)