I With the start of the 2015 fantasy football draft season just
around the corner, I thought it was time to make a few bold predictions
based on what I've seen over the spring and summer OTAs and first
week of training camp.
1) Eli Manning will post better fantasy
numbers than his brother Peyton Manning.
It’s never happened since the younger Manning joined the
NFL in 2004. OK, technically when Peyton didn't play in 2011 due
to the four neck surgeries, Eli was the better fantasy quarterback,
but that shouldn't count because Peyton wouldn't have been drafted.
The reasons behind the prediction are three-fold. Peyton's new
head coach, Gary Kubiak, is known as a run-oriented guy. No, this
won't be the Seattle Seahawks who rushed 525 times in 2014 while
passing the ball just 454 times, but it will be much more balanced
than in past seasons. Second, Eli Manning's wide receiving corps
is better than Denver's group. Although Demaryius Thomas is the
best on either team, the combination of Odell Beckham Jr., a hopefully
healthy Victor Cruz and an improved Rueben Randle is better overall.
Add in one of the best receiving backs in the league in former
New England Patriot Shane Vereen, and Eli (ADP 94.5, Pick 8.11)
is going to edge out Peyton (ADP 40.9, Pick 4.05) this season
for the first time in his career.
Despite being the No.2 option on the team,
Jeffery finished as a WR1 in each of the last two seasons.
2) Alshon Jeffery will lead the NFL in targets.
The third-year receiver finished sixth in targets last season. And
that was with Brandon Marshall hogging eight targets per contest
and tight end Martellus Bennett with a career-best 128 targets.
Eddie Royal, Marshall's expected replacement is more of a short-yardage
type (career 11.1 ypc) who will steal targets from Bennett, not
Jeffery. Rookie Kevin White, the long-term answer for the spot opposite
Jeffery, is dealing with an injury and late-arriving rookies rarely
are a factor.
3) The Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers
WILL catch a touchdown pass in 2015.
This is an easy one and not necessarily bold because it so rarely
happens in today's wide-open game that a team goes an entire season
without a touchdown pass to a wideout. In fact, before the Chiefs
did it last season, you have to go all the way back to the 1964
New York Giants to see that type of receiving ineptitude. Still,
the Chiefs' starting quarterback, Alex Smith, is one of the most
conservative throwers in the game and rarely gives his receivers
a chance at "50-50" balls. We are going to see a significant
hit to No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin's fantasy value, but he will
post between 6-8 scores in 2015. They might even let Albert Wilson
catch one or two touchdown passes.
4) DeMarco Murray will suffer from the
"Rule of 370."
There is a well-known
theory which says that a running back that carries the ball
370-or-more times in the regular season will see a drastic decrease
in production the following season.
If we evaluate the last six players to hit that workload number
and their next season's production, it doesn't look very encouraging
for Murray's fantasy owners. Only one player broke 300 attempts
the next season and the average rushing yards dropped almost 50
percent (1,715 yards to 862 yards). Include a quality backup in
Ryan Mathews and a questionable offensive line and Murray is likely
to be the next in a long line of overworked, over-drafted running
backs. Don't you be that owner.
RBs with a
5) Derek Carr will be a top-12 fantasy
Only six quarterbacks threw more times than Carr did in his rookie
season and each of them threw for more than 4,200 yards. Carr only
managed 3,270 yards, but posted 21 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions,
showing management he can be trusted with the decision-making process.
On a team that gave up a league-worst 452 points last season (28.2
ppg) and doesn't figure to be much better on that side of the ball
in 2015, Carr is likely to see the same level workload this season.
Fortunately, his receivers should be better ... much better.
The Raiders used their first draft pick to grab the most NFL-ready
wideout on the board - Amari Cooper. They also added veteran Michael
Crabtree, who seems over his injury issues and has looked pretty
good this spring and in the first week of training camp. The duo
should jump ahead of holdovers Rod Streater and Andre Holmes. Oakland
also added a nice third-down receiving option out of the backfield
in Roy Helu.
I’m not a believer that Latavius Murray has the ability to
carry this offense, nor is Trent Richardson the answer to any question.
Therefore the responsibility falls to Carr and his receivers. The
quarterback could reach 4,000 passing yards this season.
Bonus Prediction - Brett Favre will
remain retired, preferring the life of a commercial pitchman to
getting knocked down by 300 lb. defensive linemen. He played his
last game for Minnesota in 2010 (has it really been that long since
the last “will he or won’t he” summer saga?) and
will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.