It’s never easy to be bold. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that may frighten another. This especially rings true when it comes to fantasy football. Every year millions of fantasy football players flock to different draft software prepared to dominate the rest of their league. Most, if not all, tend to follow along with the norm – making selections that seem to fit because an average draft position algorithm tells you it does. But winning fantasy football leagues isn’t about playing it safe, it’s about making bold predictions. Sticking to those guns and taking or not taking players just because some software tells you to.
Some of these bold predictions may sound insane to some. But given some thought, could be the perfect way to set you up for a fantasy championship.
Patrick Mahomes will finish outside of the top 7 QBs
Making bold predictions about the Chiefs current quarterback may get me some hate mail but here goes nothing. Patrick Mahomes absolutely blew up in 2018. After sitting out for the majority of his rookie season the Chiefs traded away starting QB Alex Smith. That move set the scene for Mahomes to take the reigns in Kansas City full-time. Mahomes certainly didn’t disappoint with an MVP season in his first-ever full campaign. He would amass 5,097 yards and 50 touchdown passes, second and first respectively. With the preseason underway, Patrick Mahomes is the unanimous #1 QB so far in 2019 drafts according to early analysis.
If history can help us to understand the future the numbers are pretty telling. There have only been three quarterbacks to throw for 50 or more TDs in a season. Both Tom Brady (2007) and Peyton Manning (2013) threw 50 and 55 respectively. However, only Peyton had 5000+ yards with 5,477 in the same year. Taking a look at the years following there was a significant drop-off in numbers for both.
For Brady, a low diving tackle would cut short his 2008 season only a game into the year and the injury to his knee would cost him the rest of the year. Despite the injury, 2009 would be different as Brady would play all 16 games. That year he would throw for 4400 yards (-400) 28 touchdowns (-22) 13 INTs (+5). His completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per game, and QB Rating, would all be worse than 2007. You could contribute most of that to the injury as it would be the first action he’d seen since. However, since 2007, he has never reached 40 touchdowns and has only eclipsed his 4,800 yards twice.
Manning wouldn’t be much different. Although he didn’t suffer an injury in the following year there would be some serious reduction in counting stats. In 2014, Peyton would only throw for 4700 yards (-700), 39 touchdowns (-16), and 15 interceptions (+5). Like Brady, he also saw a loss in completion%, yards per attempt, yards per game, and QB Rating.
Neither of the QBs had “poor” seasons following their league-leading years but had enough loss to not meet value. As the 2nd QB taken, Tom Brady would have a 2nd round ADP in 2009. He would finish as the 7th-best QB that year. As the 1st QB taken, Peyton would have a 1.06 ADP in 2014. He’d finish 4th amongst other QBs that same year. Although those numbers were very good and you still earned value, he wasn’t worth a 1st round selection.
Mahomes is currently going in the 2nd round and taken as high as the number 1 according to FF Calculator. If history does in fact repeat itself, you could be on the back end of value for the position. Watson, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger, and Ryan could outperform him. And if they do, this bold prediction will pay off.
Le’Veon Bell Will Not Finish as a Top 20 in 2019
The universal consensus has Le’Veon Bell creeping up draft boards. Prior to the 2019 Rookie Draft, Bell’s ADP was hovering in the mid-to-late 2nd round. In just the last five days, Bell has been drafted as the #1 overall pick according to FF Calculator. His current ADP sits at 1.07 between DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams. I am here to tell you to pump the breaks on the star halfback.
The last time we saw Bell on the field was 2017. In his final games with the Steelers, Bell would rank as the 12th best halfback from week 15-17. He would carry the ball 38 times for 186 yards and one score. He would also catch the ball 10 times for 76 yards in the passing game. Since then Bell hasn’t been on the field for a single snap. After refusing to sign his franchise tag tender, Bell sat for the entire 2018 season.
Bell would end up signing a deal with the New York Jets in the 2019 offseason. A deal many believe to be less than he would have made had he played last year. However, the biggest concern for Bell is more to do with the lack of protection with the Jets than the holdout.
The Jets will be returning at least three of their starting offensive linemen. The bad part of this is that zero of them had a run block rating higher than 59 according to Pro Football Focus. Brian Winters, a guard, would be the teams best run-blocker last year with said rating. This would rank him as the 140th best linemen in football last year. The team will also be returning Brandon Shell (165th) and Kelvin Beachum (240th). In an attempt to bolster the offensive line the team acquired Kelechi Osemele (227th) and Ryan Kalil (108th).
Osemele seems to be in a bit of a slow decline. His run-block rating has dropped almost 30 points in the last two years. Osemele was once one of the leagues best interior linemen. Something has changed, though, and he could be a detriment to Bell if he can’t return to form. Kalil has been similar to Osemele with a 21.5 point drop-off over the last four seasons. To put that into context, Bell and the Steelers only had one offensive lineman with at least 900 snaps and less than a 65 block rating. Bell is going to find it difficult to find the holes he did in Pittsburgh and it’s going to show when the season comes to an end. To find out where the guys on the TFA Podcast sit on Bell, listen here!
Daniel Jones AND Ryan Finley will finish as top 15 QBs
To make bold predictions you really need to go out on a limb, and this one might snap the branch. There are several teams that will inevitably get younger at the QB spot. When those teams get younger and who takes over is going to be the major question. As of right now, the two most glaring situations are with the Bengals and Giants.
Eli Manning has been on a slow drop-off for a few seasons now. Despite hovering in the 4,000-4,500 yard range for the last few years he just hasn’t been very consistent elsewhere. For two straight years, he has failed to throw for more than 21 TDs. Manning has never been known to truly secure the ball, throwing as many as 20 interceptions three times. But it’s been the ratio of TD:INT that has been the most telling. Although Manning has had protection issues over the last few years his play has been shaky when it counts. Of Manning’s 11 thrown interceptions last year seven of them came from within a clean pocket. His 74.9 adjusted completion percentage was 30th in the league last year and his turnover-worthy-plays was significantly worse when not facing a blitz or in a clean pocket than when being pressured.
Andy Dalton hasn’t been much better. He ranked as the 13th best QB last year even though he missed 5 games due to injury. Even so, he hadn’t finished better than 19th in either of the last two years. The biggest issue with Dalton is his failure to come up big in big games. Andy is 0-4 in the playoffs with a sub 56 completion percentage. In those four games, he has just one touchdown with six interceptions. Playing on national television hasn’t boded well for the former TCU signal-caller either. Dalton has a 6-14 record in night games with a sub 60 completion percentage and 15 interceptions.
Question marks surround the future of these two quarterbacks. The teams’ have decided to draft guys who presumably will take over the job. Dalton and Manning will eventually be out. But when? Daniel Jones (NYG) and Ryan Finley (CIN) are poised to take over. Through the first two preseason games, Ryan Finley is the 7th best QB of anyone with at least 30 dropbacks based on Pro Football Focus’ passing grades. Finley has completed 75% of his passes, thrown for 3 touchdowns and has only turned the ball over once. His 259 yards passing is 8th best so far despite having only a 5.9 yards per attempt.
Daniel Jones, on the other hand, has been equally as impressive. There have been 60 different QB’s this preseason with at least 20 dropbacks. Only three of them have a better completion percentage than Jones who sits at 84.2%. His 228 passing yards on just 19 attempts is 16th best so far and only one of the other 15 have fewer than 30 dropbacks.
Both Jones and Finley are ripe to make a splash in 2019, and it could come sooner rather than later.
There you have it – my 2019 fantasy football bold predictions. Agree? Disagree? Have your own bold predictions you want to put out there? Drop a comment below or hit us up on Twitter.