We make an awful lot of predictions in this business. While we try to provide general strategy tips to help you come to the best conclusions about how to build a Fantasy team yourself, anyone who works in this industry knows that what everyone really wants to know about are players.
Who will be good? Who will be bad? Who will outperform their draft price the most? Who will disappoint? That's what you really want to know about. And there's a difference between, "Here's what is most likely to happen" and, "Here's where I'm going out on a limb." It's the difference between a regular old prediction and a bold prediction. The latter is all about planting a flag, taking a stand, and saying, "This is what could decide your Fantasy championships."
And the latter is what we've spent this week talking about on the Fantasy Football Today podcast.
Jamey Eisenberg gave his bold predictions for the 2021 season Tuesday, Heath Cummings gave his Wednesday, Dave Richard's were in Thursday's episode, and mine were on the Friday episode. You should check out all of those episodes to hear our discussions about each, why we think those things might happen, and what it would mean for those players, their teammates and more.
You can also read about each of our bold predictions below. And if you've got any bold predictions of your own -- or want to tell us why our predictions are bogus -- hit me up at Chris.Towers@CBSinteractive.com to let me know and we'll include your comments and questions in an upcoming newsletter.
Now, here's where we're planting our flags:
Chris' Bold Predictions
No. 1: Kyle Pitts breaks every rookie TE record
Here's what those records look like, for the record: 81 catches (Keith Jackson in 1988), 894 yards (Jeremy Shockey in 2002), and 10 touchdowns (Rob Gronkowski in 2010). Here's how I have Pitts projected: 68 catches, 847 yards, six touchdowns. But I'll admit, I had to kind of force myself to be more conservative with that projection than I initially wanted to be -- because I initially had him breaking both the receptions and yardage records. Most rookie tight ends struggle to make an impact, it's true, but most college tight ends don't do what Pitts just did at UF -- 43 catches, 770 yards, and 12 touchdowns in eight games. He's different, and landing in Atlanta, potentially as the Julio Jones replacement in the offense is a pretty excellent opportunity, one most rookie tight ends don't get. I could see him struggling, but I think it's more likely Pitts breaks into the top tier at tight end than that he finishes outside of the top 12.
No. 2: Michael Thomas finishes as the No. 1 WR
The first thing that would need to happen here would be for Jameis Winston to win the starting QB job for the Saints, and that's what I expect to happen -- whatever his limitations may be, he raises the ceiling on this offense in a way Taysom Hill never could. Thomas would also need to stay healthy after a high-ankle sprain limited him pretty much all season in 2020. If those two things happen, Thomas' upside isn't quite as high as it's ever been -- he outscored the No. 2 WR by over 100 PPR points in 2019 -- but it's still as high as anyone else in the NFL, I think. The Saints still just don't have very much help at WR outside of Thomas and, while Winston won't be quite as accurate as Drew Brees was at his best, he'll make up for some of that by taking more shots down the field. Thomas should be a target hog, and with a more aggressive QB leading the way, his first double-digit touchdown season isn't out of the question, either.
No. 3: Nick Chubb finishes outside of the top 20 at RB in PPR
If you've been reading this newsletter regularly, you know I'm a bit down on Chubb relative to the industry. In NFC drafts so far this year, he's going off the board as the No. 11 player overall and No. 8 RB; he's RB15 for me and a fringe second-round pick. And that's while projecting him for the third-most rushing yards and second-most rushing touchdowns in the league, so you can hardly argue I'm being unfair here. If I lowered his projection to be fifth in rushing yards and touchdowns, he drops to 20th in PPR points. Drop him to eighth in both and he's RB22 in PPR and RB18 in non-PPR. Since the arrival of Kareem Hunt to Cleveland, Chubb is averaging 15.6 PPR points per game -- that would've been good for 16th in 2020 and 14th in 2019. Chubb has top-10 upside, clearly, but that's more of a best-case scenario. If things go wrong for him in 2021, he could be just a fringe No. 2 RB.
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No. 1: Jalen Hurts will be a top-five QB
Hurts looked the part of Fantasy star last year when he scored 20, 43 and 19 Fantasy points in his first three starts against New Orleans, Arizona and Dallas, and he was on pace for 4,517 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, as well as 1,269 rushing yards and five touchdowns over 16 games. That's likely not realistic, but his rushing potential gives him a huge advantage over most quarterbacks …
No. 2: Terry McLaurin will be a top-five WR
I like McLaurin a lot on his own, but I love him with the addition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since 2010, in stops with the Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets and Dolphins, Fitzpatrick has eight seasons with at least nine starts. Over that span, his No. 1 receiver -- Steve Johnson (three times), Kendall Wright, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall (twice) and DeVante Parker -- had at least 128 targets on the year. There were seven times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 72 catches, six times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 1,000 yards and three times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 10 touchdowns …
No. 3: T.J. Hockenson will be a top-three TE
You're not drafting Hockenson ahead of Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Darren Waller, but he could finish ahead of them if things go right. Some of the best tight ends in recent years have come from guys who were the best receivers in their respective offenses with little competition for targets, including Kittle, Waller, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz, among others. Hockenson could be that guy for the Lions this season …
No. 1: Josh Jacobs will be at best a low-end No. 2 RB
The Raiders' addition of Kenyan Drake isn't just to fill a roster spot -- their staff seems enamored with his receiving skills and physical style. Those are two areas Jacobs hasn't excelled -- he's averaged 2.6 targets per game through two seasons and in 2020 ranked outside the top-20 in both yards after contact per attempt and elusiveness, according to Pro Football Focus. Las Vegas retooled its offensive line with three new starters, and they happen to have one of the worst schedules for their running backs to play against, including matchups with the Ravens and Steelers in Weeks 1 and 2 and dates with the Bears, Eagles, Washington, Browns and Colts down the line …
No. 2: Marquise Brown will finish as a top-24 WR
This one is a little tougher to buy into, but not when you take Brown's numbers from his final eight games (including the playoffs) and extrapolate them over 17. His back-eight total: 37 receptions, 534 yards and six touchdowns. Do the math and Brown ends up as a 78-catch, 1,130-yard, 12-score wideout …
No. 3: Tyler Boyd will be the Bengals' best PPR WR
Yeah, this prediction is one I'm marinating on, but I kinda like it. Everyone's hyped about Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins for very good reason, but Boyd has his role locked in as Joe Burrow's slot guy. That means whenever Burrow is feeling pressure and in need of getting rid of the ball quickly, which will be often, he'll be able to easily find Boyd …
No. 1: Dak Prescott breaks Peyton Manning's record
Prescott will not only break Manning's passing yardage record but in the process he'll also win MVP! This sounds more ridiculous than it actually is. Prescott has played 20 complete games since Kellen Moore took over as offensive coordinator. He's thrown for 6,592 yards in those 20 games -- 329.6 yards per game. Over a 17-game season that's a record-breaking 5,603 passing yards. If Prescott stays healthy, he's going to challenge Manning's record ...
No. 2: D'Andre Swift finishes as a top-five RB in PPR
Yes, I've read all the glowing reports about Jamaal Williams as an "A" back. If you're surprised that an Anthony Lynn team intends to chop up the touches at running back then you haven't been paying attention. A secondary back has averaged at least 10 touches per game each of the past three seasons for the Chargers. More importantly for Swift, the lead back has averaged at least 17 touches each of the past five years in Lynn's system …
No. 3: Mark Andrews finishes as the No. 1 TE
OK, even I know I sound a little bit crazy with this one. But before we anoint Kyle Pitts the next Travis Kelce or celebrate T.J. Hockenson's imminent breakout, let us at least acknowledge that Andrews has already proven himself elite …