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USATSI

We're talking about bold predictions on our Fantasy Football Today podcast this week, and here are five that I'm excited about for this season. These are players I plan to draft in a lot of my leagues, and I'll even reach for them if needed based on their potential upside.

Russell Wilson will be the No. 1 quarterback

Wilson comes to Denver with the chance to have a career season, and I'm counting on that to happen. He should top his career high in passing yards (4,219 set in 2016), passing touchdowns (40 set in 2020) and, most importantly, pass attempts (558 set in 2020). His 2020 campaign in Seattle was his best Fantasy season when he averaged 27.4 points per game, and Wilson will likely need to be above 29 points per game to challenge for the No. 1 spot. I love his receiving corps, as you'll read below, but I love this opportunity for him. He's headed for a monster season with the Broncos in 2022. 

Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton will be top 15 WRs

Jeudy and Sutton are going to benefit in a big way with Wilson on their side. While Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, the tight ends and running backs will also be significant factors, Wilson is going to lean on Jeudy and Sutton as his top options in the passing game. I expect both to top 125 targets, and Wilson has already shown he can support two top 15 Fantasy receivers with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in 2020. That season, Metcalf averaged 16.9 PPR points per game, and Lockett was right behind him at 16.6. I like Jeudy slightly better than Sutton, but both have tremendous upside with their upgraded quarterback. 

Saquon Barkley will be a top five running back

As a rookie in 2018, Barkley was amazing, finishing as the No. 2 PPR running back at 24.1 points per game. He followed that up with a standout second year in 2019, averaging 18.7 PPR points per game. But he missed three games that season with an ankle sprain, and then he suffered a torn ACL in 2020, costing him 14 games. He missed three games again in 2021, and it's hard to trust someone with that injury history. And, let's face it, it's tough to trust any member of the Giants. But I like what new coach Brian Daboll should do for this offense, and The Athletic reports Barkley "is going to catch a ton of passes." The offensive line is better, and Barkley is in a contract year. There's a path to a huge season if Barkley can stay healthy, and I expect him to deliver in a big way.

Aaron Jones will lead the Packers in receptions

With Davante Adams now in Las Vegas, Aaron Rodgers has arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL. While there's sleeper appeal for guys like Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Robert Tonyan (you can include Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers if you want), there should be plenty of targets headed for Jones. And there's a track record of Rodgers leaning on Jones when Adams has been out over the past three seasons. There have been eight games over the past three years that Adams was either out or left before halftime, and Jones has averaged five catches for 57 yards and 6.9 targets per game over that span, with five receiving touchdowns. It's tough to expect Jones to average five catches a game for a full season, but if he did that would be 85 receptions if he played all 17 games. I don't know if Lazard, Watson or any other Packers receiver gets to that total, which is why I love the setup for Jones as a pass catcher in 2022.

CeeDee Lamb will be the No. 1 wide receiver

There's a lot to love about Lamb this season as he enters his third year in the NFL. With Amari Cooper and Ced Wilson gone in Dallas, there are 165 vacated targets. Newcomers James Washington and Jalen Tolbert should help fill the void, but we don't know when Michael Gallup will return from his torn ACL. Last year, when Gallup (calf) was out or injured for the first eight games of the season, Lamb averaged 8.3 targets per game and had five games with at least 17 PPR points. He should dominate targets from Dak Prescott this season, and he's poised for a breakout year. I'm targeting Lamb early in Round 2, and he should challenge Cooper Kupp for the No. 1 receiver spot this season.