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 entering June mini-camps.
Arian Foster, off an injury-plagued 2013 and minor offseason back surgery, final rank among fantasy running backs 12.5 (In other words, is he a top-12 RB?)
Andy – OVER, but not by much. I like the price I've seen on Foster in mocks thus far. He's generally going late in Round 2 or early in Round 3. At that price, we don't need a vintage Foster season. It's tough to say exactly what Houston's offense is going to be — the range is basically "flaming disaster" to "modest success" — but we know Foster will be the featured back.
Brad – UNDER. Foster's early season demise was exemplary of Houston's nightmare year as a whole. However, the time off could be a blessing in disguise. Bill O'Brien plans to deploy the 27-year-old heavily, using him as a true dual weapon. A full participant during OTAs and mini-camp, the hungry rusher is a strong bounce-back candidate.
Dalton – UNDER. My original instinct was to bail on Foster, as I'm always skeptical about running backs who seem to have peaked. But Foster averaged 1,900.1 total yards and 15.7 touchdowns from 2010-2012 before last season's disappointment (he also missed three games over that three-year span). He's still just 28 years old with a modest 1,131 career rushing attempts, and the Texans should bounce back this year as well.
Which QB finishes with more rushing yards: RGIII, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel or wild card?
Brad – MANZIEL. Josh Gordon's potential 8-16 game suspension combined with Kyle Shanahan's run-heavy system and Johnny Frankfurter's improvisational style suggest the rookie will run wild. Recall, RGIII scrambled his way to a rookie record 815 yards his first year in Shany's system. If JFF fends off Brian Hoyer in camp and suits up for at least 14 games, he will threaten that mark.
Dalton – RGIII. I'm tempted to name a wild card here, but I'm buying into Griffin being much better his second year off the knee injury. His 815 rushing yards as a rookie (in just 15 games) were more than any season in Cam Newton's career and the most by a QB since Michael Vick in 2006.
Brandon – NEWTON. I'll go with the QB built best to handle bolting from the comfy confines of the pocket. Newton has been first or second in QB rushing yards each of his first three seasons, and he has led all signal callers in rush attempts in each of those seasons. And he has yet to miss a game. Being 6-foot-5 and nearly 250 pounds does have its advantages.
Rank the following rookie RBs in order of projected fantasy finish: Bishop Sankey, Carlos Hyde, Terrance West, Devonta Freeman and Jeremy Hill
Dalton – 1) Sankey 2) Hill 3) Hyde 4) Freeman 5) West
Brandon – 1) Sankey 2) West 3) Hyde 4) Freeman 5) Hill
Scott – 1) Sankey (by a lot) 2) Hill 3) Hyde 4) Freeman 5) West
Zach Ertz, who gained momentum post-D-Jax to Washington move, total receptions this fall 69.5
Brandon – UNDER. Philly's TE position only combined for 71 total catches last season. It's a spread-it-around system in Philly when it comes to the passing game. So, while I'm a big Ertz fan, I don't see his catch total topping this number.
Scott – UNDER. They have so many options there, assuming Jeremy Maclin is good to go. No team has two pass-catching backs that match up with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.
Andy – UNDER, and I actually love Ertz. Wouldn't be surprised if he caught 7-10 TD passes. But I simply don't think Chip Kelly is looking to become predictable, feeding only one or two primary receivers. Remember, D-Jax was the only Philly pass-catcher who reached 60 receptions last season.
Eric Decker, downgrading from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith/Michael Vick, receiving touchdowns this upcoming season 6.5
Scott – UNDER, though it's a good number. Decker probably finishes at six or seven. But with a quarterback mess in New York (and two quarterbacks that line to call their own number around the goal), I'm going to play this one conservatively.
Andy – OVER. Obviously the yardage won't be there, nor will the receptions. But this guy remains one of the league's better red-zone weapons, and it's not like the Jets' passing game will get completely shut out all season.
Brad – OVER. There's obvious downside in yards/receptions, but he's a big-framed target who is an outstanding red-zone weapon. If Geno Smith performs the way he did during the last four weeks of 2013, Decker will flirt with double-digit TDs.
Nick Foles, who posted mammoth numbers as the starter in Philly last year, total touchdowns scored this year 29.5
Brad – UNDER. Everyone assumes the good times will keep on rolling for Foles, but let's not underestimate the impact of losing DeSean Jackson. Bringing aboard Darren Sproles will help bridge the gap, but Riley Cooper's inconsistency along with Jeremy Maclin's propensity for tendon meltdowns raise the risk. Sharpie me for 27 total TDs.
Dalton – OVER. Foles had a very favorable schedule last year and will no doubt see a rise in INT% this season. He also lost DeSean Jackson during the offseason. But he'll get back Jeremy Maclin, and Zach Ertz will develop further. More importantly, Foles looks legit, and he'll continue to benefit from playing in Chip Kelly's system. The NFC East won't hurt matters either.
Brandon – OVER. I'm a Foles believer. And the Philly system is certainly favorable for QB fantasy production - only Denver and New Orleans produced more QB fantasy points in '13. Foles tallied 30 TDs last season in just 13 games, so if he plays a whole season, he doesn't even have to match his '13 production to reach this O/U mark. But, with a year of seasoning under his belt, we can't rule out the possibility that he might actually be even more productive this time around.
Old faces, new places. What newly threaded RB do you desire most: Rashad Jennings, Toby Gerhart or Knowshon Moreno?
Andy – JENNINGS, by a decent margin. He might be the most talented back in this group, and he's tied to the most interesting offense. Jennings is also unrivaled as the primary ball-carrier.
Brad – JENNINGS. I've always admired the ex-Raiders' skill set. He's a plus-sized rusher who does everything well – catches the ball, gets tough interior yards, blocks. He's exactly what Tom Coughlin wants in a RB. David Wilson, if healthy, and rookie Andre Williams will have roles, but Jennings is likely to net roughly 18-22 touches per game. In a better offensive situation compared to Gerhart and Moreno, he has reasonable odds of finishing inside the RB top-15.
Dalton – GERHART. I have Jennings currently ranked one spot behind Gerhart, so don't exactly hold me to this. The Giants project to be the better team, and who knows how either will hold up physically when given workhorse duties, but Gerhart projects to be given all the touches. I'm wavering on this one still. I will say I'd be surprised if Moreno is the winner here.
Ultra buzzy wide receiver, Cordarelle Patterson, who is expected to be the focus of Norv Turner's vertical attack, receiving yards this season 949.5
Dalton – OVER. I realize this is a leap of faith considering he didn't even record 500 receiving yards last season, but Patterson entered the league as an extremely raw route runner. The talent sure seems real, and I believe in Turner's ability to get him the ball.
Brandon – OVER. Probably not by much, but he's such an explosive talent, it's hard to take up the pessimistic side of this O/U argument. The real point is that you are going to want this guy on your fantasy team because there are going to be at least a few Sundays where his game-breaking talents end up carrying your fantasy squad to victory.
Scott – Probably UNDER, but I want Patterson anyway. He'll get 100-200 rushing yards, and did you notice the six touchdowns in December? Get this guy. His production will be cut into a bunch of different pieces, but you'll like what it adds up to.
Golden Tate, who signed a lucrative deal with the Lions this offseason, total receptions this year in Detroit 74.5
Brandon – OVER. Nate Burleson, who is much less of a threat than Tate is at this point in his career, was essentially above this O/U pace for the Lions in the half-season that he was able to get out on the field in '13. With former New Orleans offensive assistant Joe Lombardi running the offense, the pass will remain a big part of Detroit's attack. Tate should push 80-plus receptions.
Scott – OVER. There's not much behind him, and even with Scott Linehan gone, I fully expect the Lions to pass to set up the pass.
Andy – OVER. All indications are that Detroit will remain a high-volume passing team, with plenty of targets for 'Tron, Tate, Reggie and others. The Lions might actually put the ball in the air 180-200 more times than Tate's former team.
Ray Rice, who resembled a mouse squirming on a sticky trap last year and potentially facing a reported 3-game suspension, combined yards in Gary Kubiak's newly installed zone-blocking scheme 949.5
Scott – UNDER. I can't imagine Roger Goodell letting Rice play a full season, and Bernard Pierce might be a better player anyway. I doubt I own any Rice shares in 2014.
Andy – UNDER. As of this writing, we can't even say for sure that he'll duck suspension. Plus he was recently terrible. He's not in my 2014 plans.
Brad – WAY UNDER. All indications suggest he's facing a multi-game suspension, deservedly so after his recent press conference fail. In PR terms, he officially entered Donald Sterling territory. Add in last season's numerous 2-yard plods, Baltimore's sketchy offensive line and Bernard Pierce's presence, and he's nothing more than bench waste.
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