With only one week left in the fantasy season, it is about time to reflect on the year. In my first full season writing about fantasy football, I made some good calls, some bad… and other very, very bad predictions. Part of the fun of fantasy is looking back and enjoying what you were right on and laughing at where you went horribly wrong. Luckily for me, there is plenty to laugh at — here’s a look back at all of my preseason predictions.
*Predictions assumed PPR scoring and original prediction is in italics.
Jay Ajayi will finish outside the top ten running backs
“After a breakout 2016, Ajayi is a consensus second-round fantasy pick. But after taking a closer look at Ajayi’s season, besides a few games, he was not an elite fantasy back. Take out his three 200-yard games, and his best fantasy performance was only 14 points. While you cannot just “take out” games, Ajayi needs to find more consistency this year if he wants to live up to his expected draft position.”
Well, chalk that one up in the win column. Ajayi was never able to rekindle the magic he found in 2016, accruing 14 points in his highest scoring game and only surpassing 10 points on six occasions. Ajayi’s disappointing fantasy year can be chalked up to a lack-luster offensive line in Miami that his running style was not suited for (compared to Kenyan Drake), and a time-share in Philadelphia.
Isaiah Crowell will finish as a top ten running back
“Crowell has proven to be a reliable runner despite the bad teams he has been on. Crowell finished as the 14th best running back last year and the Browns quietly assembled one of the best offensive lines in football this offseason. Crowell should continue to play a huge role in Cleveland and post a big season.”
He is currently ranked 26 among all running backs, so it is safe to say that this was very wrong. Still, I’m okay with the thought process behind this prediction, it just never came to fruition. Crowell was inefficient early in the year and gave way for Duke Johnson to be more involved in the offense. Crowell has been a bit better of late, scoring at least 11 points in four of his last six games. Still, a wrong prediction nonetheless.
Jaguars defense will finish as a top ten defense
“Yes, it is the Jags, but the talent they have assembled on defense is nothing short of phenomenal. AJ Bouye, Malik Jackson, Jalen Ramsey, Paul Posluzny, Barry Church, Calais Campbell and Telvin Smith. On paper this group is one of the best in football and if they perform anywhere near their talent level, they should post a solid fantasy defense year.”
This is a prediction I wish I went further with, as the Jags have far and away been the best fantasy defense in 2017. They have scored more than ten points in ten games this year, and more than 20 points three times. They have been a turnover machine and lead the league in sacks — a great recipe for fantasy success. It is safe to say that this was a great call.
CJ Anderson will finish as a top 24 running back
“Before his injury last year, Anderson was off to a hot start as the feature back in Denver. The offensive line is not very good, but Anderson should receive a large enough workload to finish as a top 24 back. The only qualm is that Jamaal Charles may bite into his carries, but for now Charles shouldn’t be much more than a good change of pace back.”
C.J. Anderson is currently the 28th ranked running back with one week left, so there is hope that this prediction can still be correct. Anderson has received a solid workload that has allowed him to have some relevant fantasy days, but an ineffective Broncos offense combined with three one-point performances have led C.J. Anderson to where he is now. Coming off his biggest game of the year in Week 15, piling up 158 yards on 30 carries, there is a small chance that Anderson can make this a successful prediction by the end of Week 16.
“The former first-round draft pick has shown flashes of tremendous talent in his two year NFL career, but has not put together a breakout season. This year Parker has had a great camp and preseason. But the main reason Parker will have a breakout season is the new guy under center, Jay Cutler. Parker is a Cutler-type receiver. Physically, Parker is not far off from Alshon Jeffery. Cutler will look to Parker often, especially deep. This is Parker’s breakout year.”
I loved Parker going into the year, and it made perfect sense for his breakout year to happen. I felt confident in my prediction after the first three games, as he scored 12, 21 and 12 points. Then, Parker was sidelined for three weeks and has been marked by inconsistency since. On the other hand, Landry has been fantastic and is the fifth-best receiver in fantasy. While this prediction would have been wrong either way, it would have been interesting to see what Parker could have done with a full year.
Keenan Allen will finish as a top 10 receiver
“This one is not rocket science. Allen has been an elite fantasy receiver when healthy, especially in PPR. In a relatively injury free season, Allen will return to form and finish as a top ten receiver.”
*Pats myself on back* This was one of my best predictions. Most of the fear with Allen came from his injury history, but it was not enough to scare me away. My faith in Allen worked out, as he is currently the third ranked receiver. He has been one of the most consistent receivers in football, with only three games under ten points. It has been great to see Allen healthy and on the field for a full season, finally living up to the potential everyone saw.
Amari Cooper will finish as a top 10 receiver
“Everyone knows that Cooper is an elite talent, and he has shown it thus far in the early stages of his career. However, Cooper has not turned into an elite fantasy option, mostly due to his lack of touchdowns. Over the offseason, Cooper has added muscle so that he can become a more reliable redzone target. Cooper is going to take a few touchdowns away from Michael Crabtree and that will volt him into the top 10 fantasy receivers.”
Following one of my best predictions comes one of my worst. Cooper has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments of the season. A year riddled with inconsistency, Cooper has left the football world wondering when (and if) he will ever live up to his potential. He showed some flashes throughout the season, most notably in his 210-yard, two touchdown outing versus the Chiefs in Week 7. Outside of that, Cooper only had two weeks with more than ten fantasy points. Never able to catch his stride, Cooper will be one of the biggest fantasy mysteries heading into 2018.
Terrelle Pryor will finish as a top 15 receiver
Pryor finished 21st last year on the Browns with only four touchdowns. With his incredible size and speed and Kirk Cousins now throwing the ball, it is hard to imagine that Pryor will not post better numbers in Washington. The Pryor hype is high, and you should buy in.
This one hurts because Pryor was one of my favorite receivers going into the year, but he could never find any rhythm with Kirk Cousins. That, coupled with his inability to take advantage of opportunities, led to him seeing less and less snaps. Eventually, Pryor’s year ended by being placed on injured reserve. Pryor will hit the open market again this offseason, so maybe, with full health and a new team, he can find some of the success he had in 2016.
Martellus Bennett will not finish as a top 10 tight end
“This has nothing to do with Bennett’s talent. Season in and season out, he has proven that he is a legit NFL tight end. The problem? I don’t foresee Bennett getting a large enough target share to put him in the top ten of fantasy tight ends. The Packers offense is loaded and Bennett will be more of a redzone target. He will have a good year, but not as good as a fantasy year as some expect.”
Bennett was obviously never able to get much going in Green Bay. While he was targeted more than expected early on, he was not able to do much with his opportunities. He was eventually cut and picked up by the Patriots, but ended the season on IR. Bennett was a common choice as a TE1, and he came nowhere close to worthy of his draft stock.
Kelvin Benjamin will finish as a top 15 wide receiver
“The whole Panthers offense should rebound this season, especially Benjamin. He has his weight under control and is the clear number one target in an offense that should put up a lot of points. Benjamin will score upwards of ten touchdowns and remind us why he was picked fairly early in 2016 fantasy drafts.”
While this prediction will not be correct, I do not feel too bad about it. Benjamin started out the year relatively strong for Carolina, but after being shipped to Buffalo, he faded fast in fantasy relevance, mostly due to the Bills style of play. The reason this prediction is not all bad is that each Panthers number one receiver has been successful. Early in the year it was Benjamin, then Devin Funchess took the reigns and has had a great fantasy year as the Panthers leading pass catcher, currently the 19th ranked receiver.
“If any running back can be productive past 30, it’s Peterson. The running back tandem are posted as co-starters and should see a close to 50/50 split in usage. Ingram may get more work in the receiving game, but Peterson will take control of goal line duties and score enough touchdowns to be the top running back on the Saints.”
A massive cringe has been plastered across my face since revisiting this prediction. This was such a bad prediction, I really have nothing to say for it. Peterson ended up being poison on the Saints and they shipped him away to Arizona, where promptly after, Ingram and Alvin Kamara had consistent big weeks and led the Saints to a successful season. Here is to hoping you did not listen to this prediction. It was moronic.
Austin Hooper will finish as a top eight tight end
Falcons tight ends totaled ten touchdowns last season. With the departure of Jacob Tamme, Hooper is set to be the feature receiving tight end in a high-octane offense. In his time last year, Hooper impressed and has continued to during the preseason.
I still like Hooper as a football player, but he never found the volume to have a solid fantasy year. In an offense that has even struggled to get Julio Jones the ball consistently, predicting that Hooper would have an increased role was definitely a mistake.
Carlos Hyde will finish as a top 12 running back
“Hyde has dealt with a multitude of injuries throughout his career, and people have seemed to forget the talent and hype that surrounded Hyde early on. I think in Shanahan’s offense Hyde will be rejuvenated and take hold of the feature back role in San Francisco. He will post a big fantasy year with a big workload.”
I can’t quite pat myself on the back for this one yet since Hyde is ranked tenth with a game left to play, but it has been a solid prediction so far. Hyde was very involved on the ground and through the air, making him a consistent fantasy option, only scoring less than ten on four occasions. While Hyde has had a solid year, it will be interesting to see if he remains a 49er through the offseason.
Todd Gurley will finish as a top six running back
After he set the world on fire in his rookie season, Gurley had a disappointing 2016. However, the down year was not so much his fault, rather the horrible offense and offensive line. This year the Rams have added receiving weapons in Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp. They added perennial all-pro Andrew Whitworth on the offensive line, and Jared Goff is going to take a big step forward. All of this bodes great for Gurley, as the running lanes should open up once again.
Best for last. Gurley has been even better than I predicted, as he is the top back in fantasy. He has scored 20 or more in NINE games, including three performances over thirty. Gurley has been nothing short of incredible, both on the ground and through the air. This season cemented him as one of the elite backs in the NFL and a likely top five fantasy pick next year.