What makes a bold prediction a bold prediction? It's not something that you think is especially likely to happen, necessarily, though you shouldn't just be making outlandish statements you don't believe in, either. For me, it's all about planting a flag in the ground, and saying, "If this does happen, it's going to change the way the entire season goes."
These are those unlikely events that tend to decide NFL and Fantasy championships, and one I keep coming back to is this: The Dolphins offense is going to be really good. Like … top-five in the NFL, good. That hasn't happened in Miami in nearly 30 years – the last time they finished top five in scoring was in 1994, when Dan Marino was already well into his 30s.
I was a very young Dolphins fan back then, and while I don't really root for them anymore, it still hangs around me like a phantom limb. I want to see them do well, but it's happened so rarely in my life that I never feel comfortable expecting it to happen.
But they also haven't had an offensive player as good as an in-his-prime Tyreek Hill since Marino's heyday, and Mike McDaniels' Kyle Shanahan-inspired offense figures to get the most out of arguably the NFL's quickest receiving corps. Tua Tagovailoa can do a passable Jimmy Garoppolo impersonation, enough to get the ball into Hill and Jaylen Waddle's hands in space, and the two of them are going to create a lot of problems for defenses once they have it.
Miami's offense might be the eighth best and it would still be a successful season. They could be the 14th-best and it would be their best finish since 2014. But, if they live up to their fullest potential, this could be one of the most dynamic in the league. If that happens, Hill and Waddle and Chase Edmonds and even Raheem Mostert are going to help you win a bunch of games.
Here are 13 more bold predictions that will win you some Fantasy matchups if they come true.
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1. D.J. Moore scores 10-plus touchdowns
When the argument against a player essentially boils down to something like, "They can't score touchdowns," that's typically a good player to bet on. Moore has been good at everything in his career except getting into the end zone, with just 14 touchdowns in four seasons – including just four in three straight. However, it's worth noting that the Panthers haven't had more than 17 touchdown passes in any of their past three seasons, so he's actually scored more than one-quarter of their passing touchdowns in that stretch. With Baker Mayfield at QB, I expect the Panthers offense to be much more functional, and that gives Moore a much better chance to find the end zone. Here's hoping he does it a whole bunch more.
2. Kyle Pitts is the No. 1 tight end
For me, it's not a question of "if" but "when." Pitts is going to be the No. 1 tight end in Fantasy at some point. Does he surpass Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews this season? Given Kelce's age and the decline we saw last season plus Andrews' numbers with and without Lamar Jackson – he averaged more than 5 PPR points per game more without Jackson active last season – I think there's a pretty good chance it happens this year. 90 catches, 1,300 yards, and six-plus touchdowns? It's well within his grasp.
Patrick Mahomes apologized in advance to Fantasy players for his expectation that the Chiefs won't have a true No. 1 WR this season, and Matt LaFleur made similar comments about the Packers wide receivers in the preseason. I don't mind the idea of taking JuJu Smith-Schuster as your No. 3 wide receiver or a late-round flier on the likes of Skyy Moore, Christian Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or Romeo Doubs, but I expect these to be pretty ambiguous situations for much of the season. If I had a lot invested in anyone in these passing games besides Travis Kelce, I wouldn't feel good about it.
4. Najee Harris isn't a top-12 RB
Harris is going to get as many snaps and touches as he can handle, but there are real reasons to be concerned about how good this Steelers offense is and whether he's going to get the same passing workload he got last season with the more mobile Mitchell Trubisky. But the thing that really scared me off Harris was the news that he dealt with a Lisfranc injury during camp. He's supposedly fully past it now, but if it slows him down at all or even gets worse, things could go really south.
5. Davante Adams has 1,500-plus yards
I'm buying Adams remaining a top-three wide receiver despite leaving Aaron Rodgers. Derek Carr is a fine quarterback in his own right, and while I don't expect Adams to be force-fed targets to quite the extent he was in Green Bay, I still expect him to be in the high-20s in target share, with the Raiders likely to throw the ball more than the Packers did to make up for it. Adams is still an incredibly skilled receiver who gives the Raiders an element to their offense they haven't had, and they're going to take advantage of that. He won't be the No. 1 WR, but he won't be far off.
6. Three wide receivers rush for 200-plus yards
As far as I can tell, this has never happened in a single season in NFL history, but I think we've got several candidates for 2022. Obviously, there's Deebo Samuel, who now has bonuses built into his contract for rushing production after he rushed for 480 yards over his final 11 games last season. However, I'll also say that Curtis Samuel, Robert Woods, Tyreek Hill, Amari Rodgers (who will play some running back for the Packers), and Rondale Moore could all do it as well. There's even an outside chance Ja'Marr Chase does it, given his big-play abilities and the fact that the Bengals have talked about getting him the ball in more different spots. I don't think we're going to see a huge shift towards Deebo-esque usage around the league, but I like the potential of a handful of guys to add some "hidden" value with their legs.
7. Elijah Moore is a top-12 WR
We saw a six-week stretch where Moore played like a top-12 WR already, as he put up a 96-catch, 1,300-yard, 14-touchdown pace from Week 8 through Week 13, his final game of the season. We'd need to see Zach Wilson take a step forward once he comes back from his knee injury for it to happen, but I really think Moore is a special player who is going to thrive even in a middling-at-best offense.
8. The Seahawks finish 32nd in scoring
This offense moved at a snail's pace with Russell Wilson, one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NFL history at the helm. With Wilson gone, I'm expecting an even more conservative, run-first approach, and while there's talent at the skill positions, I don't think that'll be enough to overcome mediocre-at-best QB play and backward play calling. If Drew Lock has to play significant snaps, I'll feel even more pessimistic about this offense, if you can believe it.
9. Lamar Jackson leads all quarterbacks in touchdowns
One thing we've never seen from Jackson is a truly huge rushing touchdown total – he had seven in both 2019 and 2020, but there's obviously double-digit potential here given how impossible he is to slow down in the read-option game. And we've seen 30-plus touchdown play from Jackson before as a passer. If he can combine those two things, his upside remains as high as anyone in the game, and I'm bullish on Rashod Bateman's ability to provide a more consistent level of play as the No. 1 WR than Jackson got from Marquise Brown. Add in that rookie fourth-round tight end Isaiah Likely looked like a potential difference maker in the preseason and it's not unreasonable to think Jackson could make a leap as a passer.
10. James Conner is a top-five running back
We saw Conner play at that level when Chase Edmonds was sidelined last season, as he averaged 23.1 PPR points per game in five without Edmonds. Given Conner's injury history, it's asking a lot for him to sustain something like 16.6 rush attempts and 5.6 targets per game, but if he's the primary pass-catching back for the Cardinals while still getting those all-important Green Zone (inside the 10-yard line) carries that this offense produces so many of, there's top-five upside here.
11. Saquon Barkley leads all RBs in catches
My editor, Dan Schneier, has talked me into being bullish on Barkley. Barkley hasn't been used as much as a pass-catcher with Jones as his QB – 5.2 targets per game compared to 6.6 with Jones out – but I think there are reasons to think that'll change under new coach Brian Daboll. Barkley has talked about being used more as a receiver in the new Giants offense, and in Jones' most extensive playing time this preseason, he targeted running back Antonio Williams a whopping seven times. Barkley is another year removed from his torn ACL and is healthy right now, which is all that you can ask. Christian McCaffrey is a better bet than Barkley to have the most catches among running backs, but Barkley might be No. 2.
12. Antonio Gibson has more top-12 weeks than Dameon Pierce
Pierce has a clearer path to being a lead back for the full season, but I'm just not particularly excited about what that path will lead to. I don't buy that he's going to be a three-down back, so I'm expecting something like what Damien Harris produced last season – a 1,000-yard pace as a rusher, middling production – only with a lot fewer than 15 touchdowns. Gibson, on the other hand, has the lead RB role for the first four games of the season, at least, and I don't think he's just going to go away when Brian Robinson is healthy; he'll still have a pass-catching role, I bet. In a better offense, with more opportunities to catch the ball, I think Gibson ends up the better bet for Fantasy more often than not, even if Pierce might have more RB2 finishes.
13. Melvin Gordon has more touchdowns than Javonte Williams
According to Benjamin Allbright, a Broncos reporter, Gordon is getting the "situational work" in his 55-45 split with Williams in training camp, which would be especially disastrous for Williams' breakout potential. Gordon outscored Williams 10-7 last season, but the assumption Fantasy players have made is that, while Gordon will still have a role, Williams would be there in the most important situations. If that's not the case, and Gordon does outscore Williams, it's going to be hard for Williams to even come close to living up to expectations. There's a real chance that happens.