(Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
With the 2018 season fast approaching, fantasy writers of every stripe are rushing to get contrary opinions out to the world and make a splash with ridiculous statements. I don’t go in for any of that. So instead, here are my 10 Absolutely Going To Come True predictions for 2018. Take them to the bank.
1. Tyrod Taylor will be a top 8 QB this season.
Stay with me, here. Yes, I’m a Brown’s fan, but no, I’m not just a homer. Tyrod Taylor finished as the QB 20 last season with 262.7 points across 14 games. That means Taylor averaged just 17.5 points per game (ppg), and that was on the Bills’ run-first offense with one of the league’s worst receiving corps. This season, Taylor will be throwing to Jarvis Landry (WR 11 last season), Josh Gordon, potentially one of the greatest WR’s in the game, possibly Dez Bryant if he and CLE can come to an agreement, and with talented back ups Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway. Of equal importance is Duke Johnson, Jr., one of the premier pass-catching RB’s in the NFL. There simply isn’t a way, with that much talent surrounding him, that Taylor will not be able to find targets to throw to in the regular season. While we will see a regression from the 394 rushing yards, but that will be more than made up for with an increase in touchdowns . I won’t say Taylor will win your week every week. But Taylor is going to be a stud this season more often than not. I like him better than Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, and a slew of other QB’s. If you’re only argument against Taylor is “hurr-durr, but the Browns suck!”, then you’re not paying attention and deserve to lose to someone that is.
2. Derrick Henry will be a top 10 RB
The Titans were hot garbage in 2017. They dealt with injury, and week after week they looked terrible. They also refused to commit to Derrick Henry, instead attempting to force DeMarco Murray to be the lead back even when he was not at 100% health and was not performing well. Well, 2018 is going to see a different Titans team. Almost everything has been revamped (including the loss of Murray), but the most important change is that Henry’s specific strengths as a runner will be utilized properly for basically the first time (that is, we will see a lot more outside zone run plays). Even with Deon Lewis there, Henry will be the back to own in Tennessee.
3. Jerrick McKinnon will bust by ADP
According to fantasypros, McKinnon’s ADP is currently at RB 15. Even discounting McKinnon’s durability concerns, McKinnon has simply never been a great runner between the tackles and that severely limits his scoring potential as RB Matt Breida takes goal line duties.I think McKinnon will finish outside the top 20. While he will have some big games and do better in PPR than in standard, I simply think there are players below his ADP that are more rounded or simply will have more scoring opportunity. I would prefer having LeSean McCoy, Alex Collins, Mark Ingram, Jay Ajayi, Derrick Henry (of course), and even Marshawn Lynch.
4. Marshawn Lynch will be a top 15 RB
Speaking of Lynch, I think this season will be a return to form for Lynch. This is not a hot take based on a single 60-yard TD in a preseason game. This is based in part on Lynch’s apparent report with head coach John Gruden, an overall improved Raiders offense which will provide more opportunity, and Lynch’s skill being far above his backups in Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and even Doug Martin. Assuming he stays healthy, I expect big things from Lynch this year. I like Lynch over Christian McCaffrey, Alex Collins, Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, and Royce Freeman, all of whom are currently being drafted higher.
5. David Njoku will have a top 8 finish as a TE
I didn’t mention Njoku earlier when I was reviewing Taylor because I want to talk about Cleveland’s premier TE here. As a rookie on a terrible team, Njoku finished as TE 21. Njoku has improved quite a bit since then, and should split time far less often with teammate Seth DeValve. Add in to the mix a far superior QB to DeShone Kizer, additional top tier talent in the WR corps to minimize pressure, and the 2 touchdowns he caught in the preseason opener, and you have a recipe for magic. It should also be noted that one of his TD’s was from Taylor and one was from Baker Mayfield, so even if Mayfield does see the field at some point, Njoku has a good connection with either of them. I like Njoku over Delaney Walker, Even Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Trey Burton, and Jordan Reed (if only because I don’t think Reed will play a full 16).
6. Phillip Rivers will be a top 5 QB
Felipe Rios, as his close friends call him while we’re all hanging out, finished as QB 7 last season. However, that was with a very rough start while the Chargers players were all still trying to figure everything out together. By the second half of the season, Rivers was a monster and posted season end stats that showed no drop in skill from when he first started his career. If not for the adjustment period as new teammates needed to gel with each other, Rivers would have already had a higher finish. This is not an old man clinging to the last frays of rope cough, Ben Roethlisberger, cough. No, with all his weapons primed and ready (well, most- RIP Hunter Henry), Mike and Tyrell Williams, Keenan Allen, and even Melvin Gordon are all ready to catch a ton of passes and take them to the house. Rivers should be off to the races right from week one. I like Rivers over Drew Brees, Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, and Ben Roethlisberger.
7. Leonard Fournette will bust by ADP
I think Fournette’s ADP is just a bit high. Currently, he is being drafted as the 9th RB off the board. I think Corey Grant will eat in to his touches a bit, but more importantly I just think other RB’s will perform better. Those RB’s include Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, Joe Mixon, and possibly even Derrick Henry. I think that Fournette is a great player, but probably late 2nd round would be a more appropriate ADP.
8. Josh Gordon will be the #1 WR in the league in both standard and PPR
OK, this one is purely because Josh Gordon captured my heart many moons ago and I never got it back, but I really do think it is possible. We have seen what Gordon is capable of with mediocrity under center. We also saw that despite a long absence from the field, Gordon is still in great shape and can still make big plays over defenders. With the huge upgrade at QB that both Browns QB’s represent, Josh Gordon has nowhere to go but up! I’m so stoked to watch Gordon this year, it’s not even funny.