Alas! We are off to a new season with a fresh start for each player, each team and each fantasy relevant game! This is the first of 17 bold weekly predictions which hopefully can help make some decisions on your various games. At the bottom you will see the criteria I use for grading myself each week as well as my total report card from 2017. It is my hope that these predictions will elicit a ‘wow’ from the reader in terms of really making a proclamation.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers over/under is 45.5 points. Give me the under even at one less touchdown: 38.5 points.
The Browns defense is improved and (I know I know it’s preseason) but limited all four preseason opponents to a COMBINED 56 points or an average of 14 points per game. The Steelers meanwhile kept all of their preseason opponents not named the Green Bay Packers to 24 points or less. Le’Veon Bell might not be playing, they scored 39 points in their week 1 matchup last season and Tyrod Taylor is a notoriously conservative QB.
No one on the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles offense is a top 5 in fantasy this week.
They face off Thursday against Atlanta who was exactly middle of the pack against opposing QBs, WRs, RBs, TEs and Kickers. Nick Foles did not light up the board during his one start vs. the Browns where he had 127 yards and 2 interceptions. I think there is a bit of Super Bowl hangover here and while they might win this game, it will not prove to be the offensive power that it presents itself to be.
Bold prediction: The Atlanta Falcons will be the only team in the NFL this year to have a top 5 offense and top 5 defense.— Dañiel Ruggles (@FatManMagic) September 3, 2018
Chicago Bears not only win against Green Bay (Packers favored at 7.5pts), Aaron Rodgers is not a top 10 QB this week.
First, Aaron got paid and for a number of athletes, the decline begins in production post-big pay day. Second, I think Khalil Mack is going to become a cookie monster (cheese monster?) against the Packers in Week 1. (Ironically Mack got paid too, so one could argue that he will see a decline too…) Anyway, Danny Trevathan will be a big beneficiary of Khalil joining the linebackers. I think the loss of Jordy Nelson is going to hurt more than the addition of Jimmy Graham, something the team will have to adjust too. Aaron Rodgers opening game the last three years: 311 Yards, 1 TD; 1 Int (2017); 199 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int (2016); 189 yards, 3 TDs, 0 Int (2015) and typically he gets better and better as the season progresses.
Phillip Rivers is the top QB this week.
They face up against Kansas City who was one of the worst defenses to QBs last year, Kansas City has to travel (quasi) cross-country where Rivers was 10% better as a QB last year (according to QB Rating). Phillip struggled against the Chiefs last year and I think that trend reverses starting week 1 as he carves them out for a good 250 yard 2+ TD effort. Finally, Eric Berry is questionable for the game, that is a massive hit to the Chiefs defense.
Dalvin Cook is a top 3 fantasy RB this week.
The 49ers rushing defense was among the worst last year, it can be argued that if Minnesota gets up early with struggles of Jimmy Garoppolo fighting the tough secondary and 2nd string RB Alfred Morris trying to get through the Purple People Eaters that they will run the ball to eat out the clock. Dalvin isn’t the type who needs a few games to get up to speed either, as a rookie last year he opened week 1 with 127 yards across 22 attempts. Most lists I see have Alvin Kamara, David Johnson, Todd Gurley II, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey as the weekly favorites.
Which pick is least likely true?
This poll is closed
Browns Steelers under 38.5 pts
No Eagle top 5 on offense
Bears beat Packers
Phillip Rivers took QB
Dalvin Cook top 3 RB
2017 Total Report card
A – 18
B – 12
C – 15
D – 30
Here is how I will be grading my Bold picks this year
A – The bold pick happened as I stated
B – The bold pick did NOT happened as stated but the idea behind it was there (example I predicted Jesse James would have 0 TDs and fewer than 20 yards in week 2, he had 27 yards, the general idea to avoid him in fantasy was present.
C – The bold pick did NOT happen and the overall feel for what occurred had you saying “meh”
D – The bold pick was nowhere near accuratee