Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for the upcoming season.
Josh Gordon, who has those with keeper deadlines and early drafts in a bind after receiving a 1-3 week window for a verdict on his appeal, round picked in a 12-team draft – 9.5
Brandon – UNDER. Barely. I'd say the ninth-round is about right for a guy that could end up sitting the entire season, but who we know can carry your fantasy team on his back down the stretch if he's only given a half-season suspension.
Brad – UNDER. In Round 9 you're often looking at Riley Cooper, Tavon Austin, Dwayne Bowe, Hakeem Nicks -- the dregs of the keg at WR3. The upshot with Gordon is enormous. If exonerated, he would easily be a top-three receiver and worthy of a Round 2 pick. He's worth the dice roll as early as Round 8 in a 12-teamer.
Andy – UNDER. But it's just about the right range. A couple days ago, I drafted Gordon in Round 8 in a 14-team IDP league. The hope is simply that he'll be around for the fantasy playoffs, the most important weeks on the fantasy calendar.
Brad – UNDER. He's been the belle of the ball thus far in Pats camp catching everything in sight, getting tough yards inside and earning work in GL packages. However, Ridley, provided he squeezes the rock, and Shane Vereen will play significant roles complicating White's total contributions greatly. He'll be RB2 valuable in spurts, but I think he finishes in the 150-160 touch range.
Andy – OVER. This kid is good. That's my bottom line. I don't think Ridley is a special player in any area, really (except perhaps fumbling.) Even if Ridley conquers his ball-security issues, White is the sort of talent who can surge past him on the depth chart.
Scott – UNDER. Too many players there, good players. Heaven help the kid if he drops the ball once, or whiffs in a blitz pickup. I'm not going to push a spec play this aggressively, not in the Land of Belichick.
Sticking with the rookie RB theme, Andre Williams, who experienced an instant value boost after last Sunday's Hall of Fame trucking of second-string Bills, total touchdowns for the G-Men – 6.5.
Andy – Hmm. Close. I'll go OVER, by 0.5. I can see Williams falling into a rotational role for New York, perhaps on the short side of a 65/35 split. Not sure I see him seizing the full goal-line workload, though. If the Giants really intend to be an up-tempo team, I doubt they'll routinely bring in new personnel inside-the-5.
Scott – OVER. It sure looks like the goal-line job is his, and Rashard Jennings doesn't have the ideal profile for that work anyway.
Dalton – OVER. He looks like the favorite to act as the Giants' goal-line back, so he could easily surpass this mark even if 29-year-old Rashad Jennings (whose career-high in carries is 163) stays healthy. If Jennings gets injured, Williams could be a monster. The Giants run the ball inside the 10 about as much as any team in football.
Jeremy Maclin, off an ACL injury that cost him the entire 2013 season, receiving yards this year in Philly – 1,099.5.
Scott – UNDER. Lots of toys here, and we're talking about someone off a major injury. Don't confuse what is probably with what is likely.
Dalton – OVER. I realize this is probably not the smartest bet, considering Maclin's injury history, but his setup is so lucrative, I'm betting on him beating this even if he misses a couple of games. He's averaged just 58.3 receiving yards per game in his career, so again, I'm really taking a leap of faith here, but I like Chip Kelly's system that much.
Brandon – OVER. Chip Kelly recently said that Maclin looked "fantastic" coming back from his ACL injury. He's slotting into the spot that last season made DeSean Jackson a top 10 fantasy WR commodity. I think he has the potential for top 15 WR fantasy numbers, and you can get him for a mid-20s range price.
Bishop Sankey, who is expected to be involved in an undetermined RBBC, average touches per game in his inaugural campaign – 15.5.
Dalton – UNDER. Who knows when it comes to a rookie running back who wasn't exactly highly touted coming out of college. Sankey appears to be the favorite to act as the Titans' lead back right now, but that would require him remaining healthy and despite a strong looking offensive line, the Titans are going to be playing from behind a lot this season. It's too much to expect 250 touches this year.
Brandon – OVER. C'mon, his most "serious" competition is Shonn Greene. Sankey was the most physically impressive running back at the NFL scouting combine and, although a bit undersized, he's got a complete featured RB skill set. Running back is a young man's game, and I expect the Titans to lean on the man they made the first RB selected in the draft.
Brad – UNDER. Several scouts tabbed him as a change-of-pace back out of college, though his tape at Washington was impressive at times. Still, Shonn Greene, once up to full speed, will be heavily involved, likely poaching some early-down and most, if not all, goal-line work. Swiss Army Knife Dexter McCluster will also be deployed often. Sankey could seize control with a strong preseason, but I'm banking on a light workload at least initially. Pencil me in for 13-15 touches per game, which makes him more of a sure-fire FLEX than reliable RB2 in 12-team formats.
Teddy Bridgewater, gaining serious momentum over Matt Cassel in the battle for Minnesota's starting job, touchdowns tossed this fall – 21.5.
Brandon – UNDER. I say he ends up one or two TD tosses shy of this mark. Minnesota only had 18 QB touchdown tosses last season, and there were only 16 individual NFL QBs to reach 22 TD passes. Especially if Matt Cassel plays any games at all, I think it's going to be tough for Bridgewater to reach this mark.
Brad – OVER. The Vikes want him to ramp up his release time, but, for the most part, he's been a standout in training camp. Matt Cassel is nothing special, which means, with a strong preseason, he should unseat the veteran in short order. Because of the Vikes' likely mediocre defense and Norv Turner's vertical-agressive offense, it seems highly plausible he exceed the proposed number and finishes in range of 23-25 TDs. His arsenal of Cordarelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson isn't too shabby.
Andy – OVER. The weapons in this team's receiving corps are excellent, and Bridgewater was, to my eye, the most skilled and NFL-ready quarterback in his draft class. I'm expecting big things. As we discussed in the Juggernaut Index, I think Bridgewater can give us the standard Flacco stat-line in Year 1. Don't be surprised if he delivers a 3,600-yard, 24-TD campaign.
Ray Rice, slated to miss the first two weeks of the season due to suspension and invovled in a new zone-blocking styled Gary Kubiak scheme, total yards this season – 999.5.
Brad – UNDER. Off a horrendous '13 in which 85 of his 214 rush attempts went for one, zero or negative yards, I'm not anticipating a sudden resurgence. Bernard Pierce is a better fit for the newly installed ZB system and will have every opportunity to prove his mettle in Weeks 1 and 2. If he performs well, Rice will be nothing more than a 10-12 touch per game committee back.
Andy – UNDER. Pierce will surely claim a share of the workload. Let's not forget that Ray was unproductive last season before the injury. I'm not a believer, and certainly not a fan of the player.
Scott – UNDER. This is the season Pierce passes him like a parked car. Baltimore's offensive line could be a problem, too.
Patriots Predicament. List in order New England's top-five receptions leaders including projected catches in parentheses.
Andy – Edelman (82), Gronk (69), Vereen (66), Thompkins (55), Amendola (48).
Scott – Edelman is underrated, kids. Boring, modest-upside players need love, too. Edelman (88), Vereen (77), Gronk (68), Thompkins (58), Dobson (49), Fryar (44).
Dalton – Gronkowski (80), Edelman (74), Vereen (72), Amendola (66), Dobson (50).
Jurrassic-born Antonio Gates, who many expect will take a back seat to Ladarius Green this year, receiving yards for the Chargers – 699.5.
Scott – Although I think Green is too trendy to offer much profit, I'm still going UNDER on Gates. He's 34, with a lot of mileage (and physical play) on the odometer.
Dalton – UNDER. I'm not totally writing off such a historically great talent at age 34, but the safest bet is to fade Gates. Over his final 13 games last season (including the playoffs), he totaled 449 receiving yards. And that was with him staying healthy.
Brandon – UNDER. Fully expect a changing of the guard at tight end in San Diego, with Ladarius Green fully breaking out. The 34-year-old Gates seemed to fade down the stretch in '13, averaging just 28 yards per game and scoring just one touchdown in his final eight games (including postseason).
Buzz-worthy Brandin Cooks, turning heads at Saints camp, total receptions in his rookie year – 79.5.
Dalton – UNDER. I'm aware of all the buzz regarding Cooks right now, but expecting him to get 80 catches during his rookie season seems like a stretch. The Saints throw the ball a lot, but they also spread the wealth. There were only 22 players who recorded 80 receptions in the NFL last season.
Brandon – OVER. Cooks' ability to go from a standstill to full speed is truly impressive. I think the Saints plan to use him in an enhanced Darren Sproles role, with lots of short passes where he can use his 0-to-60 skills. And it's not that he's just quick, he's also a polished route runner - he averaged 10 catches per game at Oregon State last season.
Brad – OVER. Highly praised by everyone, including Drew Brees, in training camp, it's hard not to see Cooks leaving an indelible mark in his rookie season. Yes the Saints spread the wealth, but he very could flirt with a 1,000 snaps in an offense that has thrown 658.7 times per year since 2010. He's a PPR P-I-M-P in the making.
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