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I’ll let you in on a little truth–we’re not the only site to have a 2016 bold predictions piece. I know, earth-shaking.

But here’s another truth, maybe not so obvious: I am perfectly okay with that, in fact I’m happy about it. The reason is because there is nothing I love more than reading bold prediction pieces, and the more there are, the better.

However, some other sites’ readers are not as smart as you. Some sites have readers who write nasty emails to the writers when their bold predictions go belly-up. And last year, as one our editors pointed out before I wrote this, our writers had more than our share of bold predictions that were wrong. (Although that Strausberg fellow was pretty good, boldly predicting Brock Osweiler would be serviceable last year). But no one got a nasty email, so we will continue to make them for your benefit, sweet reader. And hopefully we will do better this year.

Because this is a chance for you to learn some of the things our experts think might happen, but they know the odds of it happening are long.

I have listed in them in ascending order of my not so humble opinion of ascending boldness; hopefully we do a little better this year….

2016 Bold Predictions

2016 Bold Predictions: John LaPresto

Kelvin Benjamin will finish outside the Top 35 WRs in Fantasy scoring

Why it is Bold:

Kelvin Benjamin was a Top 20 WR in 2014.

Why it will happen:

The staple of the Carolina Panthers offense in 2015 was efficiency. The Panthers finished in a tie for the third most touchdown passes with just the sixth fewest pass attempts. The team has seemingly found it’s strength as it led the league in rushing attempts and rushing first downs in 2015. The team’s offense excelled on almost every level resulting in the second highest percentage of drives resulting in scores.  Efficiency!

Kelvin Benjamin’s rookie year doesn’t seem to fit this narrative. Benjamin was a target monster in 2014, seeing 145 passes come his way. Unfortunately, Benjamin caught just 50.3% of those targets. If you’re thinking to yourself, that’s not so bad, consider that over the last 15 years Benjamin’s catch percentage ranks fifth worst for a WR with that many targets. It’s clear Carolina felt they needed to force-feed Benjamin.

The Carolina offense was much more diverse last season than in 2014 and both Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess are expected to be major contributors at the WR position.  Oh, and there’s Greg Olsen. Oh, and he’s coming off of a torn ACL. Oh, and there are reports he’s overweight, which were the same reports we heard prior to last season, before he tore up his knee.

John’s not the only one predicting disappointment, as Mr. Tomlin set his sights on a first round target. 

 

 2016 Bold Predictions: Mike Tomlin

 

David Johnson will not only fail to live up to his ADP, but will not score the majority of Fantasy Points from the Arizona backfield.

Why it is Bold:

Johnson is seen as not only a first-round lock, but some think he will be the leading running back overall.

Why it will happen:

Two letters and one word: C.J. Anderson. Anderson, from last preseason and Johnson this season are almost carbon copies, except Anderson had a better run his rookie year. How did that pay off for Anderson owners? David Johnson has the lowest floor of any back getting drafted in the first four rounds. There is too much competition in his own backfield and expectations are too high.

But Mike also provided some balance and offered the following about a player who should exceed expectations…

 

2016 Bold Predictions: Michael Tomlin (#2)

Tyler Boyd will by the highest PPR-scoring rookie outside of Ezekiel Elliott.

Why it is Bold:

Boyd has an ADP of 210th overall, and 16th among rookies.

Why it will happen:

Boyd walks into the No. 2 receiver role in the Bengals offense opposite of A.J. Green, which is not a bad place to be. Between Tyler Eifert’s current injury, and Green’s injury history, they both could miss time this year. Boyd has already shown the flashes of talent in the preseason that helped him break all of Larry Fitzgerald’s school records at Pittsburgh and I think it transitions into a high-end WR3 production.

Of course some of our writers like Jason just like to take a pair of mismatched player rankings, even if that player is often atop that player’s positional rankings….

 

2016 Bold Predictions: Jason Meller

Russell Wilson will outscore Cam Newton in Fantasy in 2016. 

Why it is Bold:

Newton’s ADP is usually two rounds higher than Wilson’s, and Wilson is sometimes not even ranked as a Top 5 QB.

Why it will happen:

  • Cam Newton hit his ceiling last year while Wilson showed his in the 2nd half.
  • Cam relied on too many rushing TDs which will be hard to replicate. Especially with the return of Kelvin Benjamin and the predicted emergence of Devin Funchess, there offense should be more balanced.
  • Cam’s completion percentage was under 60% (59.8) while Wilson’s was 68.1%.
  • Not only was Wilson more accurate but he also had more completions of 20 yards or more.
  • Wilson was also hurt by his 45 sacks compared to 30 by Newton. I believe as Wilson continues to mature, he will take less risks and cut that number down closer to 30 as well.
  • Emergence of Tyler Lockett. We have all seen Lockett shoot up the draft boards. What I haven’t heard anyone talking about is how this will improve Wilson’s numbers. They now have a legitimate deep threat. All of Baldwin’s TD were because of his ability to run through and around defense.
  • And since you can get Wilson three rounds later even if he doesn’t outscore Cam, he almost surely will provide more value from his later selection.

And while we are talking about NFC West players….

 

2016 Bold Predictions: Fabian Taylor

Torrey Smith will end the season as a Top 25 WR in standard scoring.

Why it is Bold:

According to Fantasy Pros, Smith is being taken as the 46th WR. He is also coming off the worst season of his career in terms of receptions, receiving yards, TDs, and most importantly targets.

Why it will happen:

As the undisputed WR1 on the 49ers, and with Chip Kelly now at the helm, Smith is primed for a bounce back campaign. Even with the fast-paced offense, San Fran will likely be forced to throw the ball a ton as they will often be playing from behind. Prior to last year, Smith had a career average of 53 rec, 898 yards, and 7.5 TDs. That would equate to 135 standard Fantasy points, which would have placed him 27th among WRs last year. He has only once led his team in targets, and the year he did (2013 with the Ravens), Smith posted career highs with 65 receptions and 1,128 yards.

It does amaze me how “washed up” people think Torrey Smith is. He’s not, but speaking of players past their prime…

2016 Bold Predictions: Mark Strausberg

Despite having at least four players with an ADP 60 or higher, Father Time will have one of his worst seasons yet in 2016: Frank Gore will rush for 1,000 yards; Drew Brees will still be a Top 5 QB; Steve Smith will have 75 receptions, and Antonio Gates will score eight times.

Why it is Bold:

Because Father Time always wins sooner or later (I know Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl, but did you see the wobble on his passes?) and the players above have been around longer than the compact disc. The combined ages of the four players above is 142 years old. (37,36,36,33)

Why it will happen:

Let’s tackle this one by one:

-Frank Gore was only 33 yards short of a grand last year and with Andrew Luck likely healthier this year expect even better running lanes. “Experts” have been predicting the end of Gore’s production for years now. They will get it right one of these years. But given the lack of talent behind him on the depth chart, his strong finish including two touchdowns and a 5.7 YPC on his way to 85 yards during Fantasy SB week, his strong candidacy for positive regression, this year is not it.

-Brees has finished in the Top 5 each of the last five years and despite some five year lows, he still finished with 4,870 yards and 32 touchdowns. With Ben Watson now in Baltimore and Marques Colston fading into the sunset of his career, Brees now has younger targets at TE and WR. Yes, the end is coming, but I think Brees has one more quality year left.

-Steve Smith was on pace last year for 92 receptions before he got injured. He averaged more than 70 receptions the four years previous when he played at least 15 games. Given how close the ultra-competitive Smith is to 1,000 career receptions, I think he’ll get there, and then some. Let’s hope that someone tells him he can’t!

-Antonio Gates, much like Steve Smith, is chasing a number. That number is the 111 career touchdowns by a TE, currently held by Tony Gonzalez. Gates needs eight more to break the record. You know Philip Rivers would love to help Gates get there. Moreover, given that Gates has scored eight or more touchdowns eight times in his career, he should easily make it nine this season.

And finally, speaking of tight ends….

 

2016 Bold Predictions: Joe Bond

 

Julius Thomas will finish as a Top 3 TE and play in all 16 games

Why it is Bold:

Because it’s been three years since Thomas has finished as a T 3 TE and that was with surefire Hall of Famer Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. Moreover, he has never played more than 14 games.

Why it will happen:

The most bold part of this prediction is probably the play in all 16 games part. Not once has Thomas played in all 16 games in his career. Call it a gut feeling, but even some of the most brittle players manage to play a complete season at one point. If he does actually do that, then I think there is a very good chance Thomas scores double digit touchdowns again, which would vault him back into the Top 3. The Jacksonville offense has been firing on all cylinders this preseason. With another year learning they playbook under his belt, expect Thomas to excel.

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