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.
The DeSean Jackson-Buccaneers experiment is off to a bit of a rocky start, but I like his chances of having a true breakout game this week. Patrick Peterson should shadow Mike Evans, which will open up space for DJax to roam. As I mentioned in my weekly matchups piece, DJax lines up at right wide receiver 48 percent of the time, a position where the Cardinals have allowed 302 yards and four touchdowns to wide receivers on just 13 catches, for a league-high 23.23 yards per reception.
The idea that Big Ben outscoring Alex Smith is a bold prediction qualifies as a #WelcomeTo2017 moment if there ever was one. But the Steelers secondary has played pretty well, which could make this a week where the Chiefs lean on Kareem Hunt a little more. On the other side, KC's defensive backfield has certainly felt the loss of Eric Berry and opponents have noticed. Forget the narrative that Roethlisberger stinks on the road. This is Ben's time to shine. And after a week of hearing about whether or not he still "has it", this feels like a big spot for Ben to give the football world the proverbial middle finger and ball out.
It's the trappiest of trap games for Jacksonville after they so thoroughly thrashed Ben Roethlisberger he literally had to question whether or not not he could play in this league. Putting aside narratives, Goff has been excellent throwing underneath, posting a 98.7 QB rating on passes of less than 10 air yards, the 8th-best rating in this area of the field. Meanwhile if Jacksonville is "soft" anywhere it's in the underneath part of the field as they are in the bottom-half of the NFL in allowing a 87.9 QB rating on underneath throws. I can tell myself a BOLD story where Goff goes for 250 yards and two touchdowns against what is largely considered a shutdown defense.
It's not very often that a defense scores more fantasy points than a quarterback, but then again most of them average more than the 5.77 points Cutler has averaged in the last two weeks. With standout wide receiver DeVante Parker injured, Cutler will find it even harder to produce a nice stat line. Don't be shocked if the Falcons lead all defenses in fantasy points this week.
My bold predictions are all about rookies this week. First, three rookie running backs end up in the top 10 for the week: Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara. Next, I'll add that to Deshaun Watson as a top-three quarterback (which is a little surprising given they are playing Cleveland and could likely be playing from ahead which can limit fantasy upside). And finally, a touchdown from both Juju Smith-Schuster and (if he plays) Mike Williams. This is what happens when I make my editor wait, I feel like I have to give a lot of notes to make up for it.
Run the ball, play good defense and someone will go home a winner. That's what both of these teams want to do, but that's no how the NFL works. More than likely, one of these teams will be forced into a negative game script and will give chase to the other. We got into it on the podcast this week, as all of Gelhar, Franchise and Koh think there will be less than 39.5 passes thrown in this game. Both quarterbacks in one game average less than 20 attempts? In an NFL game? During the 2017th year of our lord? I don't think so. I think Jacksonville can build a lead at home with the Rams coming across country and that will force Los Angeles to take to the air. As for the running back part of the prediction? Well, everything lines up well for both of these guys to smash, so I don't know. I mean, I'm probably wrong on this prediction anyway, so why not be super wrong? You're welcome for the analysis.