Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: 10 Bold Fantasy Predictions – July Editionby Mike Fanelli July 17, 2021 0 comments
The 2020 NFL fantasy football season was full of surprises and storylines. Hopefully, the 2021 season has a similar amount of surprises and storylines. Thankfully, the wait is almost over as training camp starts at the end of the month. With time to kill and plenty of bold takes out there, I have put together my own set of 10 bold fantasy takes.
All stats are base on PPR scoring.
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D’Andre Swift Finishes as a Top-Five Running Back
Swift will be the focal point of the offense, thanks to a lack of receiving weapons. More importantly, the addition of Anthony Lynn as the offensive coordinator is a dream come true for Swift’s fantasy owners. During his four years with the Los Angeles Chargers, the running backs averaged 22.8 rushing attempts and 9.8 targets per game. Furthermore, the running backs averaged 30.2 fantasy points per game with Lynn. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions running backs averaged 27.3 touches per game last season. However, Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson, who combined to average 15 touches per game, are no longer with the team. Replacing them is Jamaal Williams, who has averaged 10.4 touches per game for his career.
During his rookie year, Williams had a career-high in touches in 11.1 per game. Even if he averages 15 per game this season, Swift will still finish as a top-five back. If Williams received 15 of the 32.6 touches per game Lynn has given running backs over the last four years, Swift would average 17.6 touches per game. Based on his 1.2 fantasy point per touch average last season, Swift would average 21.1 fantasy points per game with those 17.6 touches. If Swift averaged 21.1 fantasy points per game, he would have finished as the RB4 on a per-game basis. To help Swift out, the Lions used their first-round pick on Penei Sewell, improving their offensive line. It wouldn’t be surprising if Swift finishes as the overall RB1 this season.
Aaron Rodgers has Over 42 Passing Touchdowns
Last season, Rodgers was a man on a mission to prove he had plenty left in the tank. He threw for a career-high 48 touchdowns. It was the second time in the past four years that Rodgers threw 40 or more passing touchdowns. Furthermore, Rodgers has averaged 2.2 touchdowns per game for his career as the starter. Some believe Rodgers will sit out the season if he isn’t traded. However, Rodgers isn’t going to give up over $30 million to make a point. Instead, he will go out and have another MVP performance season, keeping Jordan Love glued to the bench. With Davante Adams and the rest of his supporting cast around him, Rodgers will easily throw for over 42 touchdowns.
Brandin Cooks sets a Career-High in Targets
Cooks had 119 targets in 15 games last season; 10 shy of his career-high 129 from 2015. However, he picked up his pay when Will Fuller got suspended. In the four games without Fuller, Cooks averaged 7.3 catches on 10.3 targets per game. Over a 17 game pace, Cooks would have had 175 targets last season without Fuller, easily setting a career-high. While Deshaun Watson is unlikely to play this season given his legal situation, Cooks will be the focal point of the passing attack. Despite the drop in quarterback play from Watson to Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills, expect Cooks to see enough volume to be a weekly top 30 wide receiver.
Carson Wentz Finishes as a Top-12 Quarterback
Last season, Wentz was awful. He finished as the QB22 on a point per game basis. Despite playing only 12 games, he finished tied for first in the NFL with 15 interceptions. However, the trade to Indianapolis was exactly what Wentz needed. During the 2017 season, current Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich was Wentz’s offensive coordinator. That year, Wentz was the favorite to win MVP before suffering a torn ACL. In 13 games, Wentz averaged 26.7 fantasy points per game, finishing as the QB2 on a point per game basis. Furthermore, the Eagles finished seventh in offensive yards and third in points scored, with Wentz under center in 2017. With the best offensive line in the league and plenty of weapons around him, expect Wentz to bounce back this season.
Trevor Lawrence Breaks the Rookie Passing Touchdown Record
This record has been tied once and broken twice since Peyton Manning set it in 1998 with 26. Russell Wilson tied the record in 2012 while Baker Mayfield broke it with 27 touchdowns in 2018. Then Justin Herbert set the current record last season with 31 touchdowns. Of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round, Zach Wilson and Lawrence are the only two expected to start Week 1. In addition to adding his college teammate, Travis Etienne, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Lawrence plenty of weapons. They added veteran receivers Marvin Jones and Phillip Dorsett to pair with DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault. With an extra game this season, and plenty of weapons, Lawrence should have no trouble breaking the rookie passing touchdown record.
Patrick Mahomes Throws for Over 5,500 Yards
Currently, Manning holds the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,477. However, that record is at risk this season with the extra game, and the most likely candidate to break the record is Mahomes. In his three years as the starter, Mahomes has averaged 308.2 passing yards per game in 45 contests. Over a 17 game slate, 308.2 passing yards per game comes out to 5,239 yards for the season. With several players, including Mahomes, wanting to go 20-0 this season, he could easily average the 323.5 passing yards per game needed to break Manning’s record and throw for over 5,500 yards. As long as Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill stay healthy, no passing record is out of Mahomes’ reach.
Darren Waller leads the League in Targets
Aside from Kelce, Waller is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, Waller had 197 catches on 262 targets for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 15.6 fantasy points per game. Last season, Waller finished tied with Kelce with 145 targets, finishing tied for sixth-most in the league. Despite the additions of Nelson Agholor, Henry Ruggs, and others last offseason, Waller’s targets jumped 24 percent from 2019 to 2020. With Agholor in New England and the uncertainty around Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, Waller has a real shot to average over 10 targets a game this season and led the league.
Austin Ekeler has Over 1,600 Scrimmage Yards
While he only played in 10 games last season, Ekeler still lead the team with 116 rushing attempts. He also finished third on the team with 54 receptions. Despite missing six games, Ekeler was on pace for almost 1,500 scrimmage yards over a 16 game pace last season. Furthermore, despite splitting touches with Melvin Gordon, Ekeler averaged 96.9 scrimmage yards per game in 2019. Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, spent the past five years with the New Orleans Saints. Over the first four seasons of his career, Alvin Kamara averaged 102.7 scrimmage yards per game, including a career-high 112.5 last season. Expect Lombardi to feature Ekeler similarly as the Saints did with Kamara. Furthermore, Ekeler should be a first-round pick in every PPR draft.
Cooper Kupp sets a Career-High in Touchdowns
Last season, Kupp scored a career-low three touchdowns despite averaging a career-high 6.1 catches per game. However, in 2019, Kupp had a career-high 10 touchdowns. Furthermore, Kupp was on pace for 12 touchdowns over a 16 game pace in 2018. When the Rams used two tight end sets last season, Kupp was limited in his totals snaps and, more importantly, snaps in the slot. Last season, Kupp played only 55 percent of his snaps from the slot compared to 65.5 percent in 2019. With Gerald Everett in Seattle combined the additions of DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell, expect Kupp to play more in the slot this season. Returning to his natural position, Kupp should set a career-high in touchdowns in 2021.
Myles Gaskin Finishes as a Top-12 Running Back
Entering training camp last season, Gaskin was an afterthought as everyone was focusing on Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. Instead, Gaskin stole the show starting in Week 1. Over the first seven games of the season, Gaskin was unstoppable, averaging 18.6 touches and 14.1 fantasy points per game. Then, Gaskin missed time with injuries. However, once healthy, Gaskin finished the season on fire, averaging 15 touches and 25.8 fantasy points per game over the final two weeks. Despite plenty of cap space and draft capital, the Miami Dolphins only added veteran Malcolm Brown and seventh-round rookie Gerrid Doaks. Last season, Gaskin finished as the RB12 on a points per game basis, averaging 16.4 per game. If Gaskin can stay healthy, he is a lock to finish as a top-12 running back.
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