Every Sunday on NFL Fantasy Live, we all make Bold Predictions! We take a look at someone we have a gut feel on and how they're going to do that day in fantasy. (Full disclosure: Week 2 I said Chris Johnson would run for under 50 yards. He had 53. Week 3, I said Chris Johnson would run for 150. He ran for 21. That's why it's called 'Bold Predictions!')
So after three weeks in fantasy, I'm ready to make more than a few Bold Predictions! going forward. Some will be bolder than others, but three weeks is the official "real" part of the season, in which trends and performances go from 'Let's wait and see' to 'This will continue'.
So we can also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana's 'Nevermind' at the same time, all the Bold Predictions! will fall under a title from the album. I can still remember the first time I heard 'Come As You Are' on a walkman and being so impressed. Who were these new guys? I'm waiting for the next release by Warrant and here comes grunge. (Yes, I listened on cassette, it was 1991, I was in college and CD's were newfangled and cost like 19 bucks each. I think everyone but Best Buy has gotten the memo that these things have to be priced to sell.)
It is now my duty to completely Drain You. This is what Tom Brady does and will do to every team he plays against this year. If you have him, just know the fear you strike in your opponents heart because they'll only see his name on your roster and they'll quiver.
Bold Prediction: I have no idea what the record is, but by the end of the season Brady will own the mark for most points by an individual in a fantasy season. The Patriots can't run the football at all. They got up 21-0 on the Bills and had to keep throwing to keep the ball and put more points up, interceptions resulted and they're partying in Toronto, um, Buffalo. Their defense can't stop anyone (first three weeks: Chad Henne 416, Philip Rivers 378 and Ryan Fitzpatrick 369). This is how New England will have to do it all season long. Brady through the air and they'll just have to outscore everyone. My biggest worry is Brady getting tendonitis stemming from all his throws. Maybe he should call Allen Iverson to see how to deal with that.
Bold Prediction: Between he and Brady you're looking at the top two picks in your 2012 fantasy draft. Slicing up the Jets to the tune of 171 and 2 TD cements his arrival as the next elite back in the NFL.
It doesn't matter how many yards Jason Campbell throws for - it could be the 323 against Buffalo or the 105 against Denver. McFadden will win the rushing title this year and be the most valuable RB in fantasy. Ahead of All Day. Ahead of C.J. He's averaging over 6 yards a carry which harkens back to a mid-1990's Barry Sanders. Hopefully he won't get caught from behind at the end of 50 yard runs at the 2-yard line and lose those goal-line carries like Sanders did.
Something in the Way: Not for right now, but for mid-season. Call this a Week 7 Bold Prediction. Underneath the bridge the tarp has sprung a leak in New York, where Mark Sanchez will become a fantasy must-start. The Jets claim they want to be ground and pound and Shonn Greene IS very ground as in "he hits the ground in his runs way too early." Try as they might, the Jets don't have the running backs to do what they want to do.
Sanchez has had two 330+ yard games so far and has thrown for two TDs in every game. Slowly, Rex Ryan will realize - without having a choice - that the Jets best way out is through the air. Twice so far New York has had to abandon their running game to keep up against the Cowboys and Raiders. Their best playmakers are on the edge and Dustin Keller is becoming a superstar this year as Sanchez's security blanket. And Sanchez had his best day of the year against Oakland where Santonio Holmes only saw two targets. He'll be that pickup that lets a team deal their better QB without losing much production for a need RB or WR, and then does huge damage down the stretch and in the playoffs because of it. Is it a Bold Prediction! to say Shonn Greene will lose his job soon? Yeah, not so much.
Stay Away: I'd rather be dead than cool. I don't know why. And if things keep going this way for Michael Vick, he may be both.
Bold Prediction: Your fantasy team will be better off if you can sell high on Vick and deal him to that owner in your league who sees stars in his eyes when you mention Vick's name than to keep him. He's shown that he can't stay away from contact and his offensive line can't keep him upright. The most common scene in Philadelphia so far this season aren't touchdown celebrations, it's Vick's OL helping him off the ground.
He's going to be an in-and-out-of-the-lineup player for most of the season. Remember, you have to get to the playoffs, and you can't do that by banking on him every other week, or a limited version of him. Sure, he'll have a week where he throws for 3 TD and runs for 100 yards but how often will that be? Sell high and stay away from the feeling he'll lead you to a title this year. Get some needs elsewhere and you can find QB production that's close elsewhere. Whether it's Fitzpatrick or Grossman or Newton, they'll serve you just as well.
Bold Prediction:Frank Gore loses his job to Kendall Hunter by mid-season. Gore said he hurt his ankle midway through Sunday's win over Cincinnati. It's irrelevant. He's running along at 2.5 yards per clip, which basically means if you started him at the line of scrimmage and asked him to just fall forward he'd be at 2.5 YPC. He's the quintessential "I got paid so it's all good" player for 2011.
It's not like San Francisco hasn't tried to get him going, he's had 59 carries so he's getting it around 20 times a game and not producing. 28, coming off hip surgery, he's on the downside and I can't believe the 49ers gave him a big contract but it happened so let's move forward. Snap up Hunter now and stash him (38 yards and a TD in 2nd half duty).
Notice how I stayed away from 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' That's because I'm officially against the commercializing of a movement so I consciously left that out. I feel like Lester Bangs. But we'll save "Almost Famous" for another column.