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 this week.
Given the unknowns associated with Chip Kelly's frantic offense and competition from Michael Vick and Bryce Brown, LeSean McCoy total touchdowns this fall 10.5
Brad – UNDER. Kelly promises to deploy a relentless ground onslaught featuring unique sets and various rushers within his wacky triple-option based offense. McCoy should be the primary ball-carrier, but Brown and Vick will get plenty of totes. He'll deliver RB1 value, but I'm speculating he maxes out at 10 scores.
Scott – I'm going to go UNDER, not with any major confidence though. McCoy has been plagued with injuries for three straight seasons and Kelly wasn't especially creative using his backs in the passing game at Oregon (where McCoy needs to get a bunch of his production). And obviously Brown and Vick have the ability to poach a handful of scores.
Dalton – OVER. He had just five last year, but that came in 12 games, and McCoy led the NFL with 20 touchdowns the previous season. With Chip Kelly in town, the Eagles enter 2013 as the favorites to lead the NFL in rushing attempts, and McCoy should benefit. He should get 12+ scores as long as he stays healthy.
Eli Manning, whose completion percentage dipped three straight years and off his worst fantasy season since 2008, total standard points scored (1 pt/20 yards passing, 4 pts/passing TD) 324.5
Scott – OVER. This is the classic case of giving a mulligan to a proven player. The Giants were a dumpster fire last year, but give Hakeem Nicks a bounce-back year and Manning comes along for the ride (or vice versa). Go back and re-read how much everyone liked this passing game 12 months ago.
Dalton – OVER. He wasn't that far off this number in a down year last season in which Hakeem Nicks was hobbled with injuries. Manning is still just 32 years old and is one season removed from throwing for 4,933 yards, which is the eighth most in NFL history. There should be a lot of shootouts in the NFC East this year.
Brad – UNDER. Stiff and wooden in the pocket, Eli was a tin-man of sorts last year. Despite little pressure applied – he was sacked only 19 – the two-time Super Bowl champ was often inaccurate, terrible with play-action and, from a fantasy perspective, completely unreliable. Seven times he failed to record at least 15 fantasy points in a game. Having Hakeem Nicks on roster for a full 16 games would do him wonders, but with an emerging rushing attack spearheaded by David Wilson, I think he falls just short of the proposed number.
Ex-Giant Martellus Bennett, who figures to play a large role in Chicago's revamped system under Marc Trestman, total touchdowns 5.5
Dalton – OVER. Chicago tight ends have averaged 5.3 touchdowns over the past three seasons, and two of those years featured extremely inferior talents compared to Bennett. At 6-6, 265 and just entering the prime of his career, Bennett might double this number.
Brad – UNDER. The Bears want to emphasize up-tempo and speed to ensure Jay Cutler releases the ball quicker. However, the offensive line remains a work in progress and Bennett is an exceptional pass-blocker. Given his skyscraper build, he'll haul in a handful of scoring grabs, but The Black Unicorn will likely be anchored to the line, limiting his overall fantasy potential.
Scott – I've got him sneaking OVER this number, mostly because I don't trust the Chicago wideouts after Brandon Marshall.
AARP member Reggie Wayne, entering his 13th season with the Colts, receiving yards this season 1,199.5
Brad – OVER. Touchdowns were a rarity for Wayne last season, but he was a centerpiece of the Indy offense between the 20s. A similar role should be expected this year. Andrew Luck's familiarity with Pep Hamilton's scheme and general experience should allow him to take the next step, padding Wayne's stats in the process.
Scott – While I'm a big believer in Wayne and I also like Pep Hamilton's relationship with Andrew Luck, this has to be an UNDER. Gravity always wins.
Dalton – UNDER. Wayne is coming off a great campaign, but he'll turn 35 years old this season, and he really slowed down over the second half last year, when he recorded a modest 520 receiving yards and two touchdowns despite a whopping 94 targets. The loss of OC Bruce Arians (and the subsequent change in an entirely different offensive system) shouldn't be overlooked here.
Shane Vereen, expected to see ample action due to the upheaval in New England, total receptions this year 49.5
Scott – OVER. Obviously there's a mess in the receiver group here and the Pats don't like to use Stevan Ridley much in a third-down, hurry-up or receiving role.
Dalton – OVER. This seems insane for someone who had just eight receptions last year, but that was more about circumstances than skill level (Vereen had seven catches in two playoff games). Not only is Danny Woodhead gone, leaving Vereen for all the third-down work, but he should also improve during his third year in the league. Moreover, with Aaron Hernandez incarcerated and Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd jettisoned (not to mention the health concerns surrounding Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola), Vereen should see a ton of targets.
Brad – OVER. Filling the Danny Woodhead role, Vereen should blast off this fall when considering the current circumstances in Foxborough. If Gronk lands on the PUP and rookie Aaron Dobson is slow to pick up the playbook, the Pats will sorely need a complement to Danny Amendola. Vereen fits the bill. He'll soon be an indispensable FLEX option in PPR formats. Expect 50 receptions at a minimum.
In his new digs with the Dolphins, Mike Wallace final fantasy rank among wide receivers 24.5 (In other words, will he be a top-24 WR?)
Dalton – OVER. This is close, as I actually have Wallace ranked 24th currently on my WR board. Moreover, Ryan Tannehill has been given a ton of praise during the offseason, as he appears ready to make the leap. But Wallace's yards-per-catch has gone in the wrong direction the last three years (21.0, 16.6, 13.1), and it's best to usually be wary of WRs changing teams. And even if he's really good, there will be at least a handful of unexpected wideouts jumping in the top-20 any given year.
Brad – OVER. Ryan Tannehill should continue to grow and develop, but Wallace will finish just outside the WR2 tier in 12-teamers. He's a dynamic field-stretcher and Tannehill throws a pretty deep ball, but unless Dustin Keller or Brian Hartline elevate their games, extra safety help over the top will be commonplace for the ex-Steeler, suppressing his overall value. Final numbers in the neighborhood of 70-1050-6 sounds right.
Scott – I trust Ryan Tannehill more than most and I don't see major competition for Wallace, so push it UNDER.
C.J. Spiller, with Fred Jackson just over his shoulder, total touchdowns this season 9.5
Scott – OVER, with hesitation. I am reluctant to predict big touchdown counts to someone unlikely to get a bunch of short-yardage work. But then I pop in the Spiller tape and I can't help myself.
Dalton – OVER. I don't think it will necessarily be by much, and I fully expect his yardage total to be much more impressive than his scoring, but I'm all in on Spiller this season. It remains to be seen whether he can stay healthy with a bigger workload, but Spiller has clearly shown he's one of the very best backs in football. I'm not too worried about a 32-year-old Jackson coming off a knee injury as a threat to his touches, especially with a new regime in Buffalo.
Brad – UNDER. If Spiller reaches double-digit touchdowns this season, Don Draper becomes a teetotaler on 'Mad Men' next year. In 16 games a season ago, he logged a mere seven carries inside the 10, one more than what Fred Jackson tallied in six fewer games. Granted the offense is revamped, but add that to E.J. Manuel's scrambling ability, and it seems a long-shot C.J. reaches 10 scores.
Tony Gonzalez, who played stickball with Larry King on the streets of New York in the 1890s, admits 2013 will be his last season. Project his 2013 line (REC-YDS-TDs).
Dalton – 68 receptions, 650 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Brad – 88 receptions, 877 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
Scott – 70 receptions, 711 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns, 1 conversion, 1 final Pro Bowl berth
Rookie Giovani Bernard, who Jay Gruden recently described possesses skills "that make people miss on the second level," total receptions 39.5
Brad – OVER. Compared to sloth BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Gio is a Siberian tiger. Ultra-quick, elusive and sure-handed, he'll be deployed in space often between the 20s. The LawFirm will continue to drop gavels at the goal-line, which will hinder Bernard's overall worth, but it's possible he becomes the feature back by midseason. Once you see him in action, you'll understand why Gruden is so smitten with the rookie. Bank on roughly 45 receptions.
Scott – UNDER. Rookies come into the league with a heavy learning curve and the Bengals are loaded with downfield options. I'm not convinced Bernard will be up-and-running for Week 1, not in a major role. Teams always give us the sunshine and lollipops spin at this time of year.
Dalton – OVER. BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn't great in the passing game, and there's even the possibility the rookie plays some receiver. I question whether Bernard could be a workhorse should BJGE go down, but he'll be utilized in a capacity that should lead to 40+ catches.
QB2 Showdown. Pick one: Michael Vick or Joe Flacco.
Scott – It has to be VICK because these sorts of picks are all about upside. If you had to be tied to one of them as a full-time starter and had no U-turn, then you shade to Flacco. But when it's about a secondary selection, swing for the fences.
Dalton – VICK. This is clearly an upside vs. floor debate, and especially when it comes to QB2s (and a mid/later round pick), I far prefer the one with the higher ceiling.
Brad – VICK. There's no guarantee No. 7 will be under center Week 1. He'll have to earn Chip Kelly's trust this preseason. But of any quarterback currently on the Eagles roster, he's the most logical choice to run the ground-heavy offense. Flacco was masterful in the playoffs last year, however, he's offered little fantasy utility otherwise. Yes, Vick would crack a rib jumping into a pool of plastic balls, but the intrigue of Kelly's offense is awfully seducing. If the cards fall right ... 3,300 passing yards, 600 rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns.
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