Predicting the future is difficult.
Even the infamous seer Nostradamus blew more than his share of predictions. Come on, do you think even he could have foreseen that Doug Baldwin would go off like he did last season? I think not! Whether it's real-life events or sports, you're going to have your share of good and bad prognostications. Remember JaMarcus Russell? A lot of NFL experts and analysts loved him coming out of college. They didn't love a skinny dude named Tom Brady, though. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Fantasy sports are no different. Using facts, statistics, trends and any number of other different sources of information, analysts try their absolute damndest to correctly predict what's going to happen out on the gridiron. Some picks are easier ... it was a shock to no one that DeMarco Murray was a bust in Philadelphia. Of course, there are also the predictions that went horribly wrong. Like Jeremy Hill taking the next step to fantasy stardom. Yeah, um ... sorry about that one.
While correct predictions can be the difference between a good fantasy team and a great one, incorrect picks can also have be massive a blow to championship hopes. You know that all too well if you drafted Andrew Luck last season. Or maybe you took Eddie Lacy in Round 1. (I just threw up in my mouth a little.) Despite all of the research that's done, a fair share of predictions, no matter how relevant or based on facts and stats, are going to be wrong. And in some cases, embarrassingly wrong.
Why is that the case? Well ... the one thing that's predictable about the NFL is its unpredictability.
Here's a look at the 10 most important fantasy predictions you'll see analysts make (including myself) that would devastate fantasy teams if proven incorrect.
David Johnson will emerge into an elite fantasy runner. Johnson was an absolute beast in fantasy land in the second half of last season, and he's in a perfect situation to emerge into a superstar. Heck, there are some analysts out there that see him as the No. 1 overall running back in fantasy football. But what happens if Johnson suffers the dreaded sophomore slump, like so many running backs have in recent seasons? A D.J. implosion would be detrimental to your fantasy title aspirations.
Ezekiel Elliott is worth a first-round draft selection. I absolutely love Elliott. So much, in fact that I wrote an article about the reasons I see him as a top-10 overall selection. There is some risk with this statement, though. Of the previous 23 backs that have been picked in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, three (Todd Gurley - 2015, Doug Martin - 2012, Adrian Peterson - 2007) finished in the top five. A mere four ranked in the top 10. Such a fate for Elliott would be an epic fantasy disaster.
Eddie Lacy and C.J. Anderson will have bounce-back seasons. Lacy and Anderson were two of the biggest busts in fantasy football a season ago. All right, so Lacy is back in shape and Anderson signed a $18 million deal to remain in Denver. But what if Lacy has a slow start, which has happened to him in the past? And what if Ronnie Hillman and Devontae Booker put a big dent into Anderson's workload? These are valid questions and ones that fantasy owners have to take into serious consideration.
Andrew Luck will re-emerge into an elite quarterback. Luck was picked in the first round in a lot of drafts last season, but injuries kept him from meeting statistical expectations. He's back at 100 percent now (at least he's declared himself as much), but what if Andrew's luck has run out? What if his shoulder becomes an issue again? If he should falter, it would affect his value and the value of everyone in the Colts offensive attack, including Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief.
Dez Bryant will bounce back from his poor 2015 campaign. I see this as a no-brainer, as Bryant has been an elite fantasy producer for most of his career at the NFL level. Assuming he's 100 percent back from last season's ailments, Bryant will be back in the top-10 wideout conversation. But what if Tony Romo's repaired collarbone doesn't hold up for the entire 2016 campaign? Behind him on the depth chart are Kellen Moore and rookie Dak Prescott. That would be terrible for Bryant's value.
Age and workload doesn't matter for Adrian Peterson. He's a cyborg. He's not human. The dude came back from a major knee reconstruction and almost broke the single-season rushing record. However, there is a trend of running backs seeing their numbers fall after the age of 30. Maybe that won't affect Peterson, who is in top physical condition and will remain the centerpiece of the Minnesota offense. But what if it does? Owners might want to handcuff him with Jerick McKinnon in drafts.
Thomas Rawls is a lock to become the next Marshawn Lynch. Did you notice that the Seahawks haven't given Rawls and his injured ankle the green light yet this offseason? Did you also notice that the team drafted three running backs, including C.J. Prosise out of Notre Dame? Lynch was an elite and durable back during his time in the Pacific Northwest ... Rawls is no Lynch. And if that ankle remains a concern in the summer months, talks about Beast Mode Junior are going to stop quickly.
Jordan Reed will stake his claim as an elite tight end. Reed went off last season, putting up career numbers across the board. Heck, he was better than Rob Gronkowski for a stretch. But did we forget that he has been one of the least durable tight ends in the league? In fact, he's missed 14 games in his first three NFL seasons. The Redskins also added Vernon Davis and rookie Josh Doctson to a pass attack that has a lot of mouths to feed. Do you still think Reed is a fantasy lock?
Allen Robinson will remain an elite fantasy wide receiver. Robinson was a favorite sleeper among a lot of fantasy analysts last season, and he exceeded expectations with 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, the 2016 Jaguars look a lot better on paper and might not be playing from behind as much. The team also added Chris Ivory, who figures to eat up some red-zone touches that might have gone to Robinson, Allen Hurns or Julius Thomas. I'd expect Robinson's touchdown totals to decline a bit.
Tevin Coleman won't affect the value of Devonta Freeman. Freeman was a beast last season, finishing as the top-scoring running back in fantasy football. But that was last season. In 2016, he'll contend with higher expectations and the threat of Coleman in the background. Also, keep in mind that Freeman's numbers were boosted by an historic four-game stretch that saw him score nine total touchdowns. I have Freeman ranked as a top-10 running back, but I'm a bit nervous about him for 2016.