Did you know that zero Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receivers caught a touchdown pass last year?
Oh, you did? Well, it’s probably because it’s the most annoying, thrown-around stat over the last year or so.
But I digress.
If someone made the claim during last offseason that something like that would happen in 2014, that may have been the boldest of predictions. Crazy calls like that are super, super fun to compile, and while they almost never come to fruition, it shouldn’t impact us too much, seeing how we are almost always wrong on a daily basis anyway. In all seriousness, though, every year I like to make a list of somewhat bold predictions for the upcoming campaign, so let’s not waste anymore time.
Let’s get bold.
Teddy Bridgewater finishes as a QB1
I love Teddy Bridgewater more than about 90 percent of NFL quarterbacks. As a Bills fan, I selfishly wish he was under center for my beloved franchise, but Tyrod Taylor is a future Hall of Fame quarterback, so it’s okay, I guess. Anyway, I absolutely love Teddy in year two, especially when you consider how he closed his rookie season last year.
From Weeks 12-17 of last season, Bridgewater served as a top-12 fantasy signal caller (that’s a QB1, folks), averaging just over 17 fantasy points per game and 1.6 passing touchdowns per game. And during that span, he actually set an NFL record, becoming the first rookie quarterback ever to complete at least 70 percent of his passes in four consecutive games. That shows me that he progressed in a big way throughout his inaugural season, and with an improved Minnesota offense, I’m all in on the two-gloved passer. Adrian Peterson is back, who will extend drives and give Bridgewater more opportunities, and under Norv Turner, he’ll be used in the passing game more, which helps Teddy even more. They also brought in Mike Wallace, a good fit with Teddy, who completed 47 percent of deep passes last season. Don’t forget, in 2013, the last time Minnesota had AP for a full season, the combination of Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder combined for about 3,500 yards.
Don’t be surprised if Teddy goes for 4,000 in year two.
Carson Palmer will join him
He isn’t sexy, and is coming off a torn ACL, but Carson Palmer is someone I’m targeting in fantasy drafts.
In six starts last year, Palmer averaged 17.3 fantasy points per game, throwing 1.8 passing touchdowns per game during that span. He was on pace to finish as a top-12 fantasy signal caller, so why can’t he do it this season? Arizona has some nice offensive weapons, and when Palmer was healthy last season, this Cardinals offense actually ranked top-10 in the NFL in passing. The Cardinals have a nice slate of matchups to open the season, and as long as this unit improves in pass-blocking (I think they will), Palmer should be very strong.
These are supposed to be bold predictions, people, and while I’m a bit more conservative with Beckham than most, I also think Watkins is going to be a lot better than people believe, despite the murky quarterback situation in Buffalo. Let’s not forget, there’s a reason Watkins was highly regarded as the top overall receiver in last year’s class. Catching 65 balls for 982 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie is absolutely nothing to scoff at, folks, especially with Kyle Orton constantly under-throwing him. In fact, according to Pro Football Reference, he is one of only 20 rookie wideouts to post at least 60/900/5. Not too shabby. Also, through the first eight weeks of last year, he was actually the WR10 in fantasy football, but some minor injuries forced him to limp towards the finish line.
Look, am I going into drafts planning for this to come to fruition? Of course not. I still have Beckham ranked as a top-seven wideout, while Watkins is around 20th. However, would it shock me?
No. Not at all.
DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL in receiving yards
I was a huge fan of Hopkins entering year two, and he exploded for 76 catches, 1,200 yards and six touchdowns, en route to the number-15 finish among fantasy receivers. If you haven’t been watching Hard Knocks and following the preseason, trust me when I tell you that there aren’t many players having a better camp than Hopkins. He just knows that no one can cover him, and has that confidence in his game that I love. For his career now, Hopkins has seen 211 targets, dropping just four passes. Now he’ll see an even larger role with Andre Johnson in Indy, as well as Arian Foster banged up. If I had to pick someone to lead the NFL in targets, it truly might be Hopkins, who is the only true offensive threat the Texans have at the moment. Last year, he posted the 8th-best yards per target (10.1), and he will continue to make big plays. The Texans need him in a big, big way.
DeSean Jackson finishes outside top-30 at WR
Have you seen the Redskins offense? This season has all the makings of a trainwreck, and to be honest, the only person on this entire team that I’m touching in fantasy is Alfred Morris. Jackson’s numbers last year were fine, but he’s so boom-or-bust. Get this: According to ESPN, Jackson was a top-20 fantasy wideout in eight different weeks of last season, but during the other eight weeks, he never finished better than WR46. The Washington offensive line is looking pitiful right now, and if they can’t give the quarterbacks time to survey the field, that limits Jackson’s upside, considering he only runs one route, and needs time to get down the field. His 56 receptions last season ranked just 47th among wideouts, despite ranking 13th in yards. He’ll have his big weeks, but he’ll probably have more bust ones.