Fantasy Football analysts are in the business of making predictions. That's a pretty big part of the job description, and we want to get as many of them right as possible. That's why you'll tend to see a lot of clustering of opinions -- everyone thinks Christian McCaffrey and Davante Adams will be the top running back and wide receiver this season. Or, at least, we all agree that's the most likely outcome for both.
But winning in Fantasy isn't about just predicting what the most likely outcome is for every player -- that's a path to a sixth-place finish. You need to hit on unexpected stars and avoid unseen pitfalls in order to come away with a championship. That's what sleepers, breakouts, and busts are all about, after all. It's about being bolder with your predictions.
What separates a "bold" prediction from a regular-old one? It's all about taking something you believe is possible but not necessarily likely and planting a flag -- it's about identifying those potential league-winning outcomes. These aren't the most likely outcomes, but they're the ones we think could end up making or breaking Fantasy seasons.
With the NFL season opener coming up Thursday evening, I polled the Fantasy Football Today crew for their bold predictions for the upcoming season, and you can see everyone's top three picks right here in this article.
But first, how about my three boldest predictions?
1. Joe Mixon challenges for the top spot at RB.
We can be reasonably sure Mixon is going to get a ton of carries -- he's averaged at least 16.9 per game in each of the last three seasons. And, he should be more efficient with those carries than he was last season, when he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. That gives him the floor. The ceiling comes in with the expectation that Mixon will finally be a true three-down player, with the potential for up to 90 targets in a ceiling outcome. Mixon is set up to finally live up to the hype and then some.
2. Justin Fields is a must-start Fantasy QB by Week 4.
If Fields was starting for the Bears by Week 2, I wouldn't be surprised at all. If he took over for Andy Dalton by halftime of Week 1, He's the future of the Bears QB position, and he fits in with the future of the QB position for Fantasy with his ability to move the ball in the passing game while also being an elite rusher. I envision a Cam Newton-type of impact from Fields.
3. A.J. Brown and Julio Jones outscore Derrick Henry in PPR.
It's a little bit about being lower on Henry than the consensus, and a lot about liking Brown and Jones a whole lot. Henry has been the exception to every rule about modern running back discourse over the past couple of seasons, thriving without doing much at all in the passing game while holding up to the kinds of workloads we haven't seen in a long time. But the thing about outliers is, they only exist until they don't, and Henry is a running back who is nearly 28 and has 827 touches over the past two seasons combined. It's going to catch up to him some time. Jones and Brown are two of the most efficient receivers in the league playing with one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league. Who is going to stop this duo, especially in the red zone? Injuries are the only thing that could.
And now, here are the rest of the Fantasy Football Today team's bold predictions. If you want more, check out the bold predictions podcast we did last week:
Jamey Eisenberg's bold predictions
- Jakobi Meyers will be a top 24 PPR receiver this year. Mac Jones is going to love throwing to Meyers, who becomes the next great slot receiver in New England, following Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.
- Michael Thomas is going to be the No. 1 PPR receiver from Week 7 on. Once he's back from his ankle injury, Thomas is going to look like the 2019 version of himself again, and he's going to love playing with Jameis Winston.
- Justin Fields is going to be the best Fantasy quarterback in the playoffs. By the end of the season, Fields will be starting for the Bears, and he's going to win a lot of people their Fantasy championships with a strong finish to his rookie campaign.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Know What Your Friends Don't
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Dave Richard's bold predictions
- Sony Michel will be the Rams' best running back. Darrell Henderson has the double whammy of seemingly not being a favorite of Sean McVay and incurring injuries easily. Michel should grind out a solid season in the Rams backfield.
- Jerry Jeudy will be a top 10 Fantasy receiver. The talent is undeniable -- he's a master route-runner with speed and physicality after the catch. Paired with a decent-enough quarterback who can actually deliver a catchable target, Jeudy's numbers should take off this season.
- Elijah Moore will finish as a top-24 receiver in PPR. The Jets rookie wideout is my favorite sleeper to draft thanks to his awesome speedy skill-set. He's also a terrific fit with mobile quarterback Zach Wilson and figures to see plenty of targets each week as the Jets stay in a lot of competitive games.
Heath Cummings' bold predictions
- Dak Prescott doesn't slow down as much as everyone expects. And he's gonna win an MVP in the process. Prescott throws for 5,500 yards, breaking Peyton Manning's record, but it's not just volume-based. He also leads the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and Fantasy points per game while leading the Cowboys to the playoffs.
- D'Andre Swift tops 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns. The Detroit Lions haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2013. They haven't had a back score 10 rushing touchdowns since 2000. D'Andre Swift ends both of those streaks and catches 60 passes, to finish as a top five PPR running back, and the best second-year back in 2021.
- Noah Fant will be a top five tight end, and not just because he plays all 17 games. Fant will be top 12 in PPR Fantasy points per game, which will be better than both T.J. Hockenson and Kyle Pitts.
Adam Aizer's bold predictions
- Justin Jefferson is considered "the best WR in the NFL" at the end of the year: We declare a new player "the best WR in the NFL" every single season, but it's going to be Jefferson after 2021. He's that good.
- Ben Roethlisberger is a top-10 QB and the Steelers have a top-five offense. They can overcome a bad offensive line (the Chargers had the worst offensive line in the NFL in 2020, according to PFF and their offense was fine) and they are loaded with talent.
- Gus Edwards will rush for 1,300 yards, score 13 TDs and be a top-10 RB. He will average more than 5 yards per carry and approach 15 carries per game. Let the bus loose!
Dan Schneier's bold predictions
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire will finish as a top five Fantasy RB. Andy Reid envisioned CEH as a reincarnation of Brian Westbrook when they drafted him and he has seen an expanded pass game role in camp. With Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill garnering constant attention from defenses, CEH will be an easy option for Mahomes often. And that's just in the passing game. In the run game, the Chiefs offer arguably the most improved offensive line in football. CEH will be more efficient as both a runner and receiver and Kansas City doesn't have much competition around him on the best offense in football. That's a nice recipe for big time Fantasy numbers.
- Tom Brady will finish as a top five Fantasy QB. Some have credited the final stretch of Brady's season to the schedule, but overstated scheduling luck doesn't account for the tear he was on. Including the playoffs, Brady threw for 30 touchdowns over his final 11 games. The real reason for Brady's late-season success was his grasping of an offensive system that was essentially the polar opposite of what he grew accustomed to for 20 years in New England. Tampa's vertically-oriented system took some time to get used to, but is ultimately more Fantasy-friendly for Brady (or any quarterback).
- Antonio Brown will finish as Tampa's highest scoring Fantasy WR. Brown has been quiet off the field and all but quiet on it -- routinely catching the attention of opposing coaches in joint practices. He also led the team in targets with the first-team offense in the preseason. Brown will lead the Buccaneers in receiving yards and score enough touchdowns to finish as the highest-scorer above Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Ben Schragger's bold predictions
- Joe Mixon will finish as a top five running back in PPR. With Giovani Bernard gone, many of the 102 targets the Bengals gave to running backs in 2020 will have Mixon's name written on them.
- Jalen Hurts will be a top three Fantasy QB. In his four starts last year, he averaged 11.5 rush attempts and 68 rushing yards per game. With a step forward as a passer and the addition of DeVonta Smith in the draft, Hurts can jump into that fluid range of QBs 2-10 and end up in the upper echelon.
- Mark Andrews will go head to head with Travis Kelce as the best tight end in Fantasy in 2021. With a banged up Ravens receiving corps and lack of explosive running backs, Andrews could see 100+ targets from Lamar Jackson. If Jackson's accuracy improves at all this year, Andrews could turn 2020's 17 red zone targets into 10+ touchdowns, jumping Waller and Kittle as the TE1 or TE2 in Fantasy.