Bold Predictions for the 2013 fantasy football season

Jim McIsaac

The 2013 fantasy football season will feature a wide assortment of boom and bust performances. I did pretty well in my 2013 baseball predictions, so I'll prove it was a fluke by trying it here with football predictions!

I spent my early parts of tonight recording an episode of the Fake Teams fantasy podcast, reviewing my bold predictions for the baseball season. Frankly, I did rather well, all in all. The natural thought process coming out of it, then, was "Oh, hey, I could make predictions for football season, too."

This can go one of two ways. Either my predictions are great, and I am working on building my own reputation as a sports Nostradamus that will culminate in a Biff Tannen-like rise to prosperity, or my predictions are crap, and I am exposed as a one-time lucky fraud.

Or, I guess, my predictions are so-so, and we realize that there's no magic pixie dust, and whatever. But that one's no fun. Read the last paragraph again. It was a better paragraph.

Anyway. Predictions!


Better Than Expected:

Michael Vick, PHI - The chances of Vick ever being the top fantasy choice or a true top-tier quarterback again are slim, sure. But he's looked downright phenomenal in the preseason, for whatever that is worth, and he and LeSean McCoy are going to have to run wild in the new Chip Kelly read-option-heavy offense if the Eagles are going to do much of anything this year, especially with Jeremy Maclin gone for the season.

The Prediction: 3,400 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions; 750 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback rank: No. 7

Worse Than Expected:

Robert Griffin III, WAS - He's so fun to watch that it hurts to predict this, but if Adrian Peterson hadn't Adrian Petersoned all over the place last year, the sharps wouldn't put a quarterback who tore his ACL in the freaking playoffs in the top 7, 8 in the preseason rankings. We can't gauge our expectations based on the absolute pinnacle of athletic achievement. While all reports say Griffin is close to ready for the season, that he might make the first game, I don't see any way he's a peak QB this year. Maybe he misses a handful of games. Maybe he plays, and he struggles. Maybe he's an okay passer, but his rushing game is a shadow of last year. One way or another, I just don't see a big year from RG3 coming.

The Prediction: 2,600 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions; 400 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback rank: No. 15

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Running backs

Better Than Expected:

DeAngelo Williams, CAR - Jonathan Stewart will start the year on the PUP list. I'm predicting it now, not that it's some crazy, out-there prediction. But even if he's active, he's a running back with an ankle injury who hasn't done any football running in months. The screwy Carolina running game, with Williams and Stewart and Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, will clarify a bit this year. Newton will get his, but Stewart isn't going to do much, and Tolbert is only around for specific scenarios. Williams, whose value plummeted more because of use than talent, will see a rebound this year.

The Prediction: 1,100 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns; 240 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns. Running back rank: No. 14

Danny Woodhead, SD - We're all out on Ryan Mathews, right? I mean, even if he's good this year, he'll get hurt at some point. Ronnie Brown is still listed as the Chargers' #2 running back on most depth charts, but come on, it's Ronnie Brown. Woodhead is going to pick up some slack there. Adding to that the fact that Denario Alexander is out for the year, and Malcom Floyd has already suffered his first injury of the season, and I expect Woodhead to act as the security blanket for Philip Rivers, who loves to throw passes behind the line of scrimmage.

The Prediction: 500 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown; 600 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns. Running back rank: No. 35

Worse Than Expected:

C.J. Spiller, BUF - I used a mid-round pick on Spiller last year and reaped the benefits. But this year, he scares me. All the tools in the world, but he's got an injury history, with an injury already this preseason (though he sounds like he'll be okay from that one in the long run). I don't want to speculate about his ongoing family drama, so I'll just say...his quarterback, at least to start the season, is Jeff Tuel, which is already everything factual I know about Jeff Tuel (for nonfactual Jeff Tuel facts, I turn you to Jon Bois). It sucks for Stevie Johnson, but it also sucks for Spiller, as defenses can just load the box against him. Waste a first-round pick on Spiller at your peril.

The Prediction: 900 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns; 200 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns. Running back rank: No. 20

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN - This is more of a pro-Giovani Bernard point than an anti-Green-Ellis one, but I already talked about two pro-running backs up there. Anyway, Green-Ellis hasn't looked great in the preseason, while everyone raves about Bernard's athleticism. Green-Ellis will get time because he is a much better pass-blocker than Bernard right now, but his days as a truly viable fantasy option are nearing their end.

The Prediction: 600 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns; 25 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns. Running back rank: No. 48

Wide Receivers

Better Than Expected:

Antonio Brown, PIT - Mike Wallace is well and truly gone. If you think there is a lot of reason to believe Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and Markus Wheaton are giving you beaucoup fantasy value, you have access to fantasies that I don't have access to. Brown was hampered by injury and ineffectiveness last year, and isn't likely to catch a lot of super-deep passes, with a height of 5'10" and Todd Haley's penchant for short passes, but he'll still accumulate like crazy.

The Prediction: 1,100 receiving yards, 10 receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver rank: No. 15

Denarius Moore, OAK - Who the heck else is the Matt Flynn/Terrelle Pryor combo platter going to utilize? Rod Streater is the next-best receiver on the roster, which is a sad little phrase. If Flynn gets the starting job, he'll have to look to Moore as often as possible just to save his own skin. If Pryor gets it, teams are going to stack the box to stop him and Darren McFadden, leaving more room for Moore to run around and do things. Either way, I think Moore exceeds expectations.

The Prediction: 900 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver rank: No. 28

Worse Than Expected:

Marques Colston, NO - 1,154 receiving yards last year were great, but did you know he only topped 75 yards in a game three times? Take out a two-week stretch in weeks four and five last year, and Colston only totaled 870 yards and 6 touchdowns in 14 games. That's...pedestrian, yeah? Even if Colston gets his regular totals, it comes in frustrating spurts, leaving you wanting way more in several weeks. Beyond that, Drew Brees still has Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, and Darren Sproles to throw to, and I expect Mark Ingram to start getting more pass action as well. Colston is 30, and we've seen his peak.

The Prediction: 950 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver rank:  No. 25

Kenny Britt, TEN - Britt remains a sleeper/value play in a lot of systems, despite having played a full 16 games only in his rookie year, and having numerous off-the-field questions as well. This year, the Titans brought in rookie Justin Hunter along with Nate Washington and Kendall Wright, so they have plenty of options if Britt's distractions prove to be too much.

The Prediction: 450 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns. Wide receiver rank: No. 70

Tight ends

Better Than Expected:

Brandon Myers, NYG - Myers was the only Oakland Raider skill player to really have a successful season last year, and now he gets to have Eli Manning throw to him. While it's true that he has struggled as a blocker, Myers has golden hands, and I expect he and Eli to work together on that, especially if Victor Cruz and/or Hakeem Nicks get/stay injured (bonus wide receiver: Rueben Randle, y'all).

The Prediction: 850 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns. Tight end rank: No. 5

Worse Than Expected:

Coby Fleener, IND - Between injuries and a simple lack of attention, Fleener's rookie year was a lost cause, and he was limited to 281 yards on the season. I basically expect that to improve, but the offense has added Darrius Heyward-Bey and Ahmad Bradshaw to Fleener, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Dwayne Allen. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Indianapolis, and if Fleener's old buddy Andrew Luck wasn't willing to feed him last year, why would he do it this year?

The Prediction: 350 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns. Tight end rank: No. 21

Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley

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