There are a lot of fun things about this job. I feel foolish any time I catch myself complaining about any of it. But there are varying levels of fun, and nothing is more fun than bold predictions. I'm a guy who spends days upon days building out projections, trying my best to project what will happen.
That doesn't leave a lot of time for what could happen. Could is a lot more fun than will. For one thing, when you say "could", no one gets to hold you accountable when it doesn't happen.
The most fun thing about bold predictions is imagining just how great someone could be. We did it with Lamar Jackson last year and boy did that pay off. We also did it with JuJu Smith-Schuster, but we don't need to talk about that. You can read about my bold predictions below, but we also talked about them on Monday's episode of Fantasy Football Today Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for non-stop Fantasy Football content:
1. Deshaun Watson will set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns and finish as the No. 2 QB in Fantasy
It might seem counterintuitive to think Watson could be better without DeAndre Hopkins. And I'm not sure he can be more efficient. But I do expect more pass volume with a bad defense, and the Texans offense could benefit from being more multiple due their variety of options. Watson will miss Hopkins, but he's never had this many skilled pass catchers in one offense.
Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, and Kenny Stills are all excellent downfield threats and the fact that the Texans have three of them helps mitigate their collective injury risk. David Johnson and Duke Johnson have been two of the most efficient pass catchers at running back when they've been healthy. Randall Cobb fills a slot role that Keke Coutee could never stay healthy for. The Texans have a ton of depth at tight end with Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring.
There's plenty of talent around Watson and he's one of the most efficient young passers of all time. If a bad defense provides a chance for him to top 550 attempts for the first time Watson could absolutely outperform Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson.
2. The Chiefs will have the No. 1 quarterback, No. 1 tight end, two top-20 running backs and two top-20 wide receivers
The first two parts of this aren't very bold, and maybe you could easily see Damien Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire finishing top 20. Last year Chiefs backs combined for 1,909 total yards and 17 touchdowns, so it wouldn't take that much improvement if they split evenly. The boldest part is Mecole Hardman leap-frogging Sammy Watkins and turning 100 targets into 1,000 receiving yards and six scores.
There aren't many targets available in this offense, but you have to imagine the Chiefs are going to get Hardman more involved after he averaged 20 yards per reception and scored six times on 41 targets as a rookie. Is regression coming? Of course. But that could be masked if his targets double.
Of course, Watkins could be that second receiver as well, but he wasn't that far off that pace on a per game basis in 2018. Regardless, this is an offense you want a big chunk of on Draft Day.
3. Denzel Mims will be the best receiver in the AFC East
I don't currently have an AFC East receiver in my top 20, so Mims doesn't exactly have to be a superstar. But he has an opportunity to become the No. 1 receiver on the Jets; all he has to do is beat out Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder for targets. If Mims earns a starting role he should dominate red zone targets at the very least. It's not time to give up on Sam Darnold quite yet, and if Darnold finally makes the leap Mims could be the biggest beneficiary.
4. Hayden Hurst will finish as a top-three tight end
This one is easy. Dirk Koetter's offenses have averaged 125 targets per year to tight ends over the past three years. Austin Hooper was on pace for 119 targets in 2019. If Hayden Hurst gets 110 at his career efficiency you're looking at 76 receptions for 913 yards and six touchdowns. That's not quite top-three material but he'll be catching passes from Matt Ryan instead of Jackson, so a little boost in efficiency is certainly possible.
5. Mark Ingram will not be a top 30 running back in any format
Just because Mark Ingram was able to stave off his inevitable decline in 2019 doesn't mean you should bet on him to do it again in 2020. The Ravens drafted JK Dobbins and he's instantly a bigger threat to Ingram's touches than either Gus Edwards or Justice Hill were last season. Ingram already had massive touchdown regression coming even if he gets the same amount of touches. Ingram will be a No. 2 back the first half of the season but Dobbins will make him unstartable down the stretch.
So what Fantasy football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which WR1 candidate can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that was all over Derrick Henry's huge season, and find out.