Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: 10 Bold Fantasy Predictions – August Editionby Mike Fanelli August 14, 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 the regular season is just under four weeks away. With the season around the corner 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.
Be sure to check out all of Fanelli’s Fantasy Files.
Justin Jefferson Finishes as the Overall WR1
Despite averaging only 32.5 snaps per game over the first two weeks of the season, Jefferson finished the year as the WR6, averaging 17.1 fantasy points per game. However, Jefferson ended the second half of the season on fire. Over his final eight games, Jefferson averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Jefferson had six games with 21.5 or more fantasy points last season. Despite his impressive numbers last season, Jefferson has plenty of room to grow. Last season, Adam Thielen had a ridiculously high 36.4 percent red zone target share compared to 19.4 percent for Jefferson. Furthermore, Thielen had an 18.2 percent touchdown rate compared to 7.9 percent for Jefferson. After his strong rookie season, expect the Minnesota Vikings to feature Jefferson more, leading to the overall WR1 finish.
Cam Newton Starts All 17 Games
Despite using their first-round pick on Mac Jones, don’t expect the New England Patriots to rush the rookie out on the field. There are only two ways Jones gets on the field: if the Patriots aren’t winning games or if Newton struggles. Given what happened last season, it would come as no surprise to see Newton benched at some point this season. However, when Newton was healthy last season, he was a productive fantasy quarterback, scoring 17.5 or more fantasy points in over half of his games. Unlike last year, Newton will have a complete offseason to prepare and several new weapons around him. Not only will Newton start all 17 games this season, but he will finish as a top-15 quarterback.
Adam Trautman Scores Eight or More Touchdowns
Over the past two seasons, the New Orleans Saints have relied on Jared Cook to lead their tight end room, totaling 16 touchdowns in 29 games, scoring at least seven in each season. However, in the offseason, the Saints let Cook, opening the door for 2020 third-round pick Trautman to take over as the starting tight end. Over the past three seasons, the Saints have thrown an average of 9.3 touchdowns per season to their tight ends. Furthermore, the Saints lack red zone weapons other than Alvin Kamara. Despite limited work last season, 20 percent of Trautman’s catches came in the red zone. With Cook out of the picture, expect Trautman to turn into the Saints’ go-to weapon in the red zone and score eight or more touchdowns.
Daniel Jones Finishes as a Top-15 Quarterback
Last season, Jones was a fantasy disaster, averaging less than a touchdown and only 12.9 fantasy points per game. However, his supporting cast was one of the worst in the league before getting hurt. Despite the chance to draft Justin Fields, the New York Giants decided to give Jones another year as the starting quarterback. During his rookie season, Jones showed flashes of turning into a fantasy asset. That year, Jones averaged two passing touchdowns per start and 16.5 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Jones can create fantasy points with his legs, averaging 3.3 fantasy points per game on the ground. With the additions of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and a hopefully healthy Saquon Barkley, Jones has the supporting cast to turn into a weekly streaming option or better this season.
Michael Carter Finishes as a Top-20 Running Back
After playing in two games last season, the New York Jets and Le’Veon Bell went their separate ways. With Bell gone, Frank Gore led the way, averaging only 6.7 fantasy points per game. In the offseason, the Jets signed former San Francisco 49er Tevin Coleman. However, Coleman missed eight games last season and averaged a career-low 1.9 yards per attempt. The other running backs on the roster include 2020 fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine and castoffs Ty Johnson and Josh Adams. In his rookie season, Perine averaged only 3.6 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Carter is currently the favorite to be the starter after a dominant career at UNC. If he gets the featured role, Carter should have no trouble finishing as a top-20 running back.
Kenneth Gainwell Finishes as a Top-36 Running Back
In the offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles hired former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their new head coach. Sirianni has a history of getting his running backs involved in the passing game. Last season, Nyheim Hines finished as the RB15, averaging 12.1 fantasy points per game. In 16 games, Hines caught 63 of 76 targets for 482 yards and four touchdowns. When the Eagles used a fifth-round pick on Gainwell, Sirianni compared him to Hines. Jalen Hurts won’t throw to his running backs as much as Philip Rivers did last season because of his rushing ability. However, Gainwell has experience playing wide receiver and running back during his time at Memphis. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if Gainwell finishes third on the team in catches this season.
Diontae Johnson Finishes as a Top-12 Wide Receiver
Despite missing a game and leaving several others, Johnson led the team with 144 targets. Furthermore, his 144 targets finished eighth in the league. Yet, even with the high number of targets, Johnson caught only 61 percent of his targets and averaged 14.8 fantasy points per game, finishing as the WR21. However, removing the three games Johnson played under 50 percent of the snaps last season, he averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game. On a points per game basis, Johnson’s 17.7 fantasy points per game would have finished as the WR6. Furthermore, while Johnson is not the same level of talent Davante Adams is, both players struggled with drops in their second year in the league.
In 2015, Adams’ second year in the league, he dropped 12 of his 94 targets (13 percent). By comparison, Johnson dropped 16 of his 144 targets last season (11 percent). Then, in 2016, Adams broke out. That year, Adams averaged 15.4 fantasy points per game and finished as the WR9. Despite leading the league in drops, Johnson put up top-12 numbers when healthy and on the field. Much like Adams, expect Johnson to put the drops behind him and have that breakout third season and turn into a superstar wide receiver.
George Kittle has Over 100 Catches
As great as Kittle has been in his career, he has never finished a season with 100 catches. Last season, Kittle was on pace for 96 catches before dealing with injuries that caused him to miss eight games. In the previous two seasons, Kittle had 88 and 85 catches. Not only is Kittle the focal point of the passing attack in San Francisco, but the 49ers have one of the most underwhelming wide receiver cores in the NFL. While Brandon Aiyuk is a star in the making, Deebo Samuel has struggled with injuries in his career. After them, the depth at wide receiver is thin after Kendrick Bourne signed with the Patriots this offseason. If he can stay healthy, Kittle should easily catch over 100 passes this season.
D.K. Metcalf leads the League in Receiving Yards
Last season, Metcalf’s 1,303 receiving yards finished seventh in the league and sixth among wide receivers. Over the first eight games of the season, Metcalf had 92 or more receiving yards in seven of them, averaging 98.5 per game. However, over the final eight games of the season, Metcalf struggled. In those games, he had under 65 receiving yards in six of them, averaging 64.4 per game. The reason why? Russell Wilson’s pass attempts per game decreased by 12.1 percent over the second half of the season. Had Metcalf kept up his strong play from the start of the season, he would have finished the year with 1,576 receiving yards, finishing first in the league. With Wilson cooking this season, Metcalf could easily finish the year as the top receiver.
Tom Brady Finishes as a Top-Five Quarterback
In his first year in Tampa Bay, Brady had 4,633 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns and finished as the QB8, averaging 21.1 fantasy points per game. However, Brady got off to a slow start. Over the first nine games of the season, Brady averaged 19.2 fantasy points per game, scoring under 19.2 fantasy points five times. However, once the Buccaneers added Antonio Brown, Brady finished the season on fire, averaging 23.6 fantasy points per game over the final seven games, scoring over 29.5 fantasy points three times. With Brown back, joining Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski, Brady has the best supporting cast of his career. Furthermore, with several passing records in reach this season, expect Brady to have one of the best years of his career.
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