With Week 1 set to kick off in just under three weeks, it’s time to put our money where our mouths are regarding players we must-have, players we’re avoiding-at-all-costs, and other guys who we think will either outperform their ADP or fail to live up to it this season. What better way to do that than provide some fantasy football bold predictions.
This article includes a mixture of all of the above. For better or worse, I believe the four players discussed here are all primed to surprise a lot of people in the upcoming season.
Without further adieu, here are four BOLD predictions for the 2018 fantasy football season.
Mike Evans finishes outside the top 20 WR
I know what you’re probably thinking. How can a guy who has started his career with four straight seasons of 1,000 or more receiving yards simply fall out of the top 20 at his position? Well, there aren’t 13 reasons why I’m low on #13 this year, but there are a few.
For starters, Evans is coming off a 2017 season to forget in which he produced a career-low 1,001 yards at just a 66.7 YPG average. While some of that dip in production can be attributed to the fact that Jameis Winston missed three games, let us not forget that Winston will also miss at least three games this year due to suspension. But my concerns don’t stop there.
According to Scott Barrett of ProFootballFocus.com, Evans has actually been one of the least efficient WR in the league over the last decade:
Here's the list of the most- / least-efficient fantasy players this past decade (based on fantasy points scored minus expected fantasy points totaled):
Gronk is GOAT. Mike Evans in some scary company. pic.twitter.com/loYQJQ1IsA
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) August 16, 2018
Finally, the Bucs are set to play a brutal schedule in 2018. According to Warren Sharp, the Bucs trail only the Cardinals in strength of schedule this season. More specifically, in his 2018 Football Preview, Sharp notes that the Bucs will “face one of the league’s most difficult schedules of pass defenses.”
With so much cause for concern surrounding Evans, is he really someone you want to invest in with hopes that he can be your WR1? The answer is an easy no for me.
Cole Beasley leads the Cowboys in receiving
The Dallas Cowboys receiving corps changed dramatically this offseason. Dez Bryant was released. Franchise darling Jason Witten retired. Brice Butler signed with the Cardinals. The team signed castaways Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin in free agency and took rookie Michael Gallup in the third round of April’s draft. Yet, amongst all of those changes, the 5-8, 180 lb. Cole Beasley remains.
So, why Beasley? Look no further than the 2016 season. That year, 2016 Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott and Beasley had it going on. The pair connected 75 times as Beasley would go on to lead the team in receiving with 833 yards. Who saw that one coming?
In 2017, the entire Cowboys offense took 3 steps back with the suspension of Zeke Elliot. But as we look ahead to 2018, there are plenty of reasons to #BelieveInBeasley. In fact, there are 147 of them. With the departures of Bryant, Witten, and Butler, 147 targets have suddenly freed themselves in the Cowboys offense. And considering all the newcomers to Big D, which pass catcher do we think Prescott has the most familiarity with?
That’s right. It’s Beasley. The best part is, he’ll cost you nothing on draft day. Zilch. And at the end of the year, we’re talking about a guy who has a legitimate shot to be a WR3 or FLEX play in 12-team leagues. Do yourself a favor and draft Dallas’ blond bombshell in the slot with one of your last picks.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins finishes as a top 5 TE
Austin Seferian Jenkins is a guy who’s had his ups and downs throughout his NFL career, but he appears to have found his forever home back in the state of Florida with the Jaguars. In 2017 with the Jets, the former Buc had a career year of sorts, despite only playing in 13 games. After missing the first two games of the year to suspension, ASJ hauled in 26 passes across his first five games with gang green, finishing the year with a career-high 357 yards on 50 receptions.
Now, he finds himself in Jacksonville as Blake Bortles’ top TE after the release of franchise mainstay Marcedes Lewis. But what can we realistically expect from 2014’s No. 38 overall pick? For starters, it seems the pair are already establishing a rapport as we approach the start of the season.
Get used to this: QB Blake Bortles connects with TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the back of the endzone for six from around the 10 yard line!
— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) July 31, 2018
In elevens, saw a spectacular catch from Austin Seferian-Jenkins over Gedeon followed by Anthony Harris breaking up a target intended for Marqise Lee
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) August 15, 2018
Secondly, the TE position truly is a guessing man’s game after the big 3 of Gronk, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz. Sure, Evan Engram might find his way into the top 5, and Jimmy Graham is certainly a threat to have a career renaissance with Aaron Rodgers. But who’s to say ASJ isn’t here to stay? Just like Beasley, Seferian-Jenkins will cost you next-to-nothing on draft day, and his reward far outweighs any risk.
James White outperforms all Patriots RBs en route to an RB1 finish in PPR
There’s a common misconception within fantasy circles that New England is a crapshoot when it comes to predicting running back performances. While that may be true to an extent, the fact is the Patriots have been one of the most consistent teams in the league when it comes to producing RB1s. The problem is, that RB1 never seems to be the guy we all thought it would be.
This year, I believe that guy to be none other than Super Bowl LI hero James White. The primary reason? He has the trust of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The secondary reason? Look at the competition he has around him.
Rex Burkhead has been a darling for two straight seasons now, but what has he actually ever produced on an NFL field? Sony Michel was taken in the first round of this year’s draft, but he’s now on the mend after undergoing knee surgery just two weeks ago. Mike Gillislee? Those wheels appeared to fall off before they even went on. And last but not least, we have Jeremy Hill. Hill actually looked spry in the Patriots first preseason game of the year, but can he be trusted as anything more than an insurance policy after three straight disappointing seasons?
Then there’s White. After leading all New England running backs in receptions a year ago, White now has minimal competition for receiving duties out of the backfield. And as we saw in the Patriots’ Thursday night game against the Eagles (10 touches, 92 yards, 1 TD), the Patriots coaching staff clearly has big plans for White in this offense. Draft him with confidence knowing that his floor will always be higher than most, and if there were ever a time for his ceiling to be reached, the time is now.