10 Bold Predictions in Fantasy Football for 2013
We are only a few days from the NFL season opener on Thursday Night Football between the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens (see full schedule).
One of the greatest things about football (and really all sports in general) is the unexpected will happen.
With my bold predictions below, my intent is to make predictions that could happen provided things fall into place.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the 2013 season:
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte will finish as the top-scoring fantasy RB in PPR formats.
As a running back that you can get in the early parts of Round 2 in both standard-scoring and point-per-reception (PPR) formats, Forte, who averaged nearly 10 yards per carry this preseason, has the potential to be the top-producing RB in PPR leagues.
Back in 2011, Forte was on pace for a season with 1,983 yards from scrimmage and 69 receptions. It wouldn't surprise me if Forte exceeds both of those totals and sets career highs playing for Trestman.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Gordon will finish as a top-12 fantasy WR in 2013.
The biggest negative is Gordon's two-game suspension to start the season, but that's a good thing from a fantasy perspective. Huh? If it weren't for his suspension, Gordon would likely be drafted much higher than his 8th-round ADP (via Fantasy Football Calculator) as he generated buzz early in offseason workouts.
In Pat Shurmur's west coast offense last year, Gordon was tied for eighth in the NFL in yards per reception (16.1), but that number should go up this year. With a rare combination of size and speed, Gordon should thrive in Norv Turner's vertical passing attack.
Projected for a stat line of 60/1092/8 over 14 games (based on my projections), Gordon has to the potential as a WR1 once he returns from suspension. Considering their are no byes in the first two weeks, you can afford to sit him on your bench during his suspension and then exploit his deep discount from there on.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills: Manuel will finish as a top-15 fantasy QB in 2013.
Manuel's status for Week 1 is in doubt as the team may need to start UDFA Jeff Tuel, but if he's not available, it's likely that he's under center in Week 2 as he recovers from his "minor" knee procedure.
As the only first-round quarterback selected in this year's draft, Manuel has all of the tools to be successful even if he's viewed as being a bit raw. In the two preseason games in which he appeared, he completed nearly 80 percent of his pass attempts (26-of-33) for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The biggest boost to his fantasy value, however, is his mobility as we have seen how a quarterback's rushing stats can really boost their fantasy value.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers: Lacy will lead the league in rushing TDs.
Although he has quick feet for his size (5-11, 231 pounds), Lacy should get the goal-line opportunities in one of the league's most explosive offenses. As opposing defenses try to slow down Aaron Rodgers, it's going to further open up running lanes for the rookie out of 'Bama.
Lacy is a solid RB2 with upside in 2013.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant will finish 1,600 receiving yards and 16 TDs.
Only two receivers in the history of the NFL have finished the same season with 1,600-plus and 16-plus TDs: Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. If Bryant does so, he becomes the third on that impressive list of receivers.
Bryant has all of the tools to be the league's most dominant receiver not named Calvin and the gap between 1 and 1(a) could become smaller as Dez takes another step forward in 2013. Last year, Bryant had 79 receptions for 1,218 yards and 12 touchdowns in the final 13 games last season.
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Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants: Randle will finish as a top-25 fantasy WR.
With an impressive offseason, Randle may have to wait until 2014 for his breakout season, but he will still be heavily involved in the team's passing attack as its No. 3 receiver. If there is an injury to either Hakeem Nicks (more likely) or Victor Cruz (less likely), Randle has WR2/3 upside.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: Bush will finish with 100 receptions.
In his two seasons in Miami, Bush had a total of only 78 receptions. On a positive note, he was more successful running in between the tackles as he carried it 443 times for 2,072 yards (4.7 YPC) in his stint in Miami.
As a rookie with the Saints, however, Bush had 88 receptions and it wouldn't surprise me if he exceeded that number.
The Lions have the league's most pass-happy offense as quarterback Matthew Stafford threw it a league-record 727 times last season. We saw a glimpse of the potential in the preseason with Bush's five receptions for 103 yards in less than two quarters of work in Week 3.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns: Cameron will be a top-three Fantasy TE in 2013.
Cameron, who is my sixth-ranked fantasy tight end, has the potential to finish higher than that. Not only does he have excellent athleticism for a tight end and the potential to create mismatches, but Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner run a very TE-friendly offense that have seen plenty of tight ends flourish.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears: Jeffery will catch double-digit TD passes.
Jeffery, the team's second-round pick in 2012, had his rookie season slowed by injuries. He ended up playing only 10 games as he missed multiple games at two separate times during the season.
As I noted in my sleepers post, Jeffery has received plenty of praise from his teammates this offseason and has the potential to put together a big season if he can stay healthy.
Considering his size (6-3, 217 pounds), Jeffery may make his biggest impact in the red zone.
Perhaps not a very bold prediction since Woodhead outscored Mathews last season as well, but folks aren't drafting (and shouldn't) as though it will happen again. But it very well could.
Of course, they played on different teams last year, but new coach Mike McCoy plans to use a rotation at running back and Woodhead will get an opportunity for more work when, not if, Mathews misses time. Even if Woodhead doesn't outproduce Mathews, he's a nice value in the later rounds.
What are your bold predictions? Post them in the comments section.
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