All your favorite NFL Fantasy analysts (and the other ones, too) spend all week pouring over data, slugging through hours of game film and debating amongst each to give you the best advice on what to do with your fake football squads. In this space, however, as the work week comes to an end we'll crank up the heat a bit more than usual and go off the map. Every week, our analysts will drop their boldest predictions and inevitably dance around their desks with idiotic grins if they ever happen to come true. If said predictions go belly up, we shall never speak of them again.
This one is quite the hot take, considering Julio Jones decimated the Packers in the NFC Championship game with 180 yards and two touchdowns. However, I think the Packers will try to slow Jones down in this one which will open the door for Sanu to roam free. When these teams faced off in the regular season, Sanu posted a 9-84-1 stat line on 10 targets, though Jones was nursing an injury.
Stay away from the Patriots, Rank! I'm still recovering from your Rex Burkhead call from last week. Yeah, same. I mean he converts that one red zone target into a touchdown and we're all living on Easy Street! So back off. And play Chris Hogan this week. I'm not sure if you caught the Monday night action, but Adam Thielen abused the Saints out of the slot. And so it stands to reason Hogan is going to step up for the Patriots who are beset by injury to take this game over. And I'm not saying Brandin Cooks isn't going to get his share of beignets, either. But Hogan is going to take over. And (well, since you've been waiting for it) WHATCHA GOING DO, BROTHER, WHEN HOGAN RUNS WILD OVER YOU!
This one hurts, because I love Dez and the Cowboys (as you probably know), but I can't be biased. He's put up just two touchdowns in his last eight road games and 100-plus yards just twice in his last 11 away from Dallas. Couple that with a matchup against cornerback Aqib Talib and the Broncos, who allowed just 13.9 fantasy points per game to wideouts at home last season, and I don't have a whole lot of faith in the Cowboys superstar as a fantasy starter this week.
The Saints versus Patriots game is sure to be a high-scoring affair in New Orleans. Based on what we saw last week, Adrian Peterson may not see much playing time if the game is close or if the Saints fall behind. Ingram has collected at least 45 receptions in each of the last two seasons and will likely dominate backfield snaps here. Plus, New England was destroyed by Kareem Hunt in Week 1 and gave up the second-most receiving yards to running backs in 2016.
The Patriots defense is clearly in transition right now. It would surprise me ZERO percent if Bill Belichick protects his defense by cramming the ball down the throats of the Saints defenders. Not only is the matchup favorable, running the rock would chew up tons of clock, limiting the exposure of the New England defense. Gillislee only averaged 3.0 yards per carry on his 15 totes but looked like the real deal as a potential feature back. Versus the Saints? Sign me up.
The Colts couldn't find a way to slow down rookie Cooper Kupp last week in their embarrassing loss to the Rams. You're telling me that they're going to figure out how to stop the ageless wonder known as Larry Fitzgerald? Fitz was already going to get pummeled with targets but that number is likely to skyrocket with David Johnson out of action for awhile and John Brown's health being less than optimal. The Colts are going to see more of Larry Fitzgerald than they ever wanted. And it's not going to be pretty.
Bradford's 84.4 percent completion rate against the Saints last week set a record. A big part of his success was how much time in the pocket he was afforded. When the Vikings used three wide recievers, one tight end and one running back they averaged 9.6 yards per play. The average in this personnel is 6.5 yards per play. I say play because that blends rushing and passing game. What's my point? They were able to balance the run and pass plays, benefitted from great offensive line play, and had time to allow deep passes to develop. Bradford, when targeting Diggs had almost a perfect passer rating. Enter the Steelers defense and their pass rush. It's unlikely that Bradford will have the time in the pocket to allow these deep plays to Diggs to develop, so the opportunity for Thielen and Rudolph increases. I'm not saying Diggs should be benched or anything nutty like that, but in this likely high-scoring game, I think it's Thielen that earns the fantasy points.
I have no idea how you could deploy him confidently, but I was told these are supposed to be bold predictions. The Colts intend to start newcomer Jacoby Brissett on Sunday as they welcome a depleted Arizona Cardinals team missing David Johnson and their starting left tackle. We should know by now to avoid declarations of "it can't possibly be worse," it can always be worse when it comes to backup quarterbacks. However, Brissett has at least showed more fortitude and offered up good throws than Scott Tolzien has in the last two calendar years. One of Brissett's passes, when he came in for Tolzien in Week 1, was a 50-yard bomb to Donte Moncrief that traveled 46.4 yards in the air that the receiver brought down in a contested situation. Moncrief could be in position to make more plays on Sunday when the Colts inevitably find themselves in negative game script. Should Patrick Peterson shadow top receiver T.Y. Hilton (only 23 percent of plays in the slot Week 1) than Moncrief would draw Justin Bethel in coverage. The Cardinals No. 2 outside corner gave up 110 yards and two touchdowns in coverage against the Lions in Week 1. There's at least some factual basis that this is a viable play and I'll personally be (stuck) playing Moncrief in at least one lineup along with you should you follow me down this dark rabbit hole.