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.
Though Shonn Greene is lurking, Chris Johnson, expected to be featured prominently in Mike Munchak's power run game, total touchdowns this fall 7.5
Dalton – UNDER. Johnson has totaled just 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons while not missing a single game, and while Tennessee's offensive line looks good on paper, he's likely to cede goal-line carries to Greene. There have been positive reports about his offseason conditioning, however, which is good news coming off back-to-back disappointing years.
Brandon – UNDER. There's nothing special about Greene, be it at the goal line or between the 20s – he's just a guy. So, it's not that I think Greene keeps Johnson from going over here. It's more to do with the fact that Johnson has been held decisively under this number each of the past two seasons.
Scott – UNDER is the play. Johnson doesn't have the same home-run ability that we saw in the salad days, and while Greene isn't a needle-mover, he's at least capable of taking some of the short, cheap scores. I doubt I'll own CJ2K anywhere in 2013.
Percentage chance Rob Gronkowski, who underwent successful back surgery Tuesday, lands on the Players Unable to Perform List, missing the first six weeks of the season 49.5
Brandon – UNDER. I think he misses a couple games in September, but I think if the Pats feel he has any chance to be ready to go sometime within the first six weeks of the season, they'll absolutely keep him off the PUP.
Scott – I'm guessing UNDER, but the Patriots aren't going to help us with this story. New England has seven games that kickoff after the 1 pm ET wave this year; get your caddies ready. Gronk is another player I don't expect to draft.
Andy – UNDER. The correct answer is exactly 29.85 percent. (No, seriously, no one [expletive] knows. That's why we don't draft in June. Next question...)
Snatch a WR sleeper: Ryan Broyles or Vincent Brown
Scott – BROWN is your man. Phil Rivers gets a coaching swap at the right time, and the blocking can't be as bad as it was last year.
Andy – BROYLES, because his quarterback is not Philip Rivers.
Brad – BROYLES. The tacky-handed Lions receiver, coming off a devastating knee injury, vows he'll be ready by Week 1. Given the healthier offensive environment and higher competency level at QB, the sophomore Rip Van Winkle is the sharper of the two late-round stabs. It's not like Nate Burleson offers much competition opposite Megatron.
Unrivaled Arizona starter Rashard Mendenhall, projected by several algorithms for at least 300 touches, total yards in his first year in the desert 1,249.5
Andy – Oh, well, if the algorithms like him... UNDER. I won't say it can't happen, but Mendenhall would clearly need to remain healthy over a full season to make this happen. He won't get much of a boost from receiving yardage.
Brad – OVER. Everyone objects to Arizona's pitiful O-line play from a season ago, but adding rookie guard Jonathan Cooper, Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians to the mix should do wonders for the offense as a whole. Mendy was the seventh-best RB in fantasy with Arians calling the offensive shots in Pittsburgh just three short years ago. With little to no competition for touches, a revival in the desert seems very likely. You're stealing shirts off leaguemate backs in the middle rounds (58.8 ADP, RB28).
Dalton – OVER. This is taking something of a leap of faith, but Mendenhall averaged 1,297 yards from scrimmage from 2009-2011, and he's teaming back up with Bruce Arians, who's made it clear Mendy will be Arizona's workhorse. The Cardinals' offensive line is a problem, and the NFC West is loaded with strong defenses, but Mendenhall should see enough touches to surpass this number.
Buzzworthy back Montee Ball, who's value continues to rise sharply in 'expert' circles, total touches in '13 259.5
Brad – UNDER. Speculation around Broncos camp suggests a three-headed attack, possibly led by Ronnie Hillman to start, is in the works. Ball's pass protection remains suspect. He's one preseason blitz-whiff away from a secondary role. The youngster may be superior to Knowshon as a runner, but the veteran is the better protector. Bank on roughly 225-235 touches from Ball.
Dalton – OVER. Ronnie Hillman is receiving buzz right now, but he proved last year he's best suited for a change of pace role, and Knowshon Moreno is possibly the most injury-prone back in the NFL. Ball proved capable of being a workhorse in college, and John Elway has compared him to Terrell Davis. The loaded Denver offense that added Wes Welker during the offseason plans to run at an even more uptempo pace this season, and Ball should benefit.
Brandon – OVER – Denver had 615 backfield touches last season. Do I think Ball can garner 43 percent of a similar number of touches in '13? Yes, yes I do.
Andrew Luck, currently ranked No. 11 in our latest consensus ranks, total touchdowns (pass/rush) in Pep Hamilton's offense 29.5
Dalton – OVER. But just barely. He totaled 28 touchdowns last year as a rookie, and further growth should be expected in year two, but there also might be some hiccups while changing offensive systems. Moreover, Luck's 7.0 YPA last season wasn't exactly off the charts.
Brandon – OVER. He had 28 combined TDs last season as a rookie, and he came on in the passing game with 13 TD passes in his final seven games. A leap of two extra TDs in his follow-up campaign doesn't require much of a leap of faith considering the talent of the player in question.
Scott – OVER. I love every offensive move the Colts have made this spring and summer. Yo Pep, you up next. Luck is a player to target if you're going with Budget QBs.
Sticking with the Mile High theme, Wes Welker, who the Denver Post recently predicted would haul in 75 receptions, total catches this season 79.5
Brandon – UNDER. I think 80 catches is a little bit rich considering that you have two other players already on roster that caught 85-plus balls last season. I'll stick with the Denver Post and predict somewhere in the 70-75 range.
Scott – Welker goes OVER, easily, but he might score five times or less. That's who he is. And remember Eric Decker was a red-zone monster last year.
Andy – OVER. This one is easy. The guy doesn't miss games, and it's no trick to find 120-130 targets for Welker this season. Just take a scoopful of targets from the tight ends, plus all of Stokley's 2012 looks (58), and we're there.
DeAngelo Williams, held under wraps the past couple seasons but could see an increase in touches with Jonathan Stewart hurting and OC Mike Shula leaning more on the run, total touches this fall 199.5
Scott – UNDER, forever UNDER. This is Lucy Van Pelt holding the football.
Andy – Nope, UNDER. Williams gets next-to-nothin' as a receiver, so he'd probably need 195 carries to reach 200 touches. Don't forget, Mike Tolbert is still in the team picture.
Brad – OVER. Shula has made it no secret he wants to pound defenses via the run. With Stew Beef a major question mark for camp and an injury liability in general, D-Will should barely eclipse this number in his Age 30 season. Mike Tolbert should also see an uptick in carries/production.
Victor Cruz, who is reportedly millions apart from the Giants on a new deal, receiving yards this year 1,249.5
Andy – OVER. If he goes the full 16 and sees another 130-145 targets, I love his chances. Fantasy owners have no reason at all to sweat the contract stuff.
Brad – OVER. After dropping 12 passes last year, you wouldn't want to trust him with a baby, but if his long-term contract demands aren't met prior to Week 1, he will be motivated by money. Assuming Eli Manning regains his mojo, Hakeem Nicks stays healthy and only a year removed from an 82-1536-9 effort, Cruz should finish north of 1,300 receiving yards with relative ease.
Dalton – OVER. I expect his contract situation to get resolved one way or the other as well as Eli Manning to bounce back. Hakeem Nicks can't stay healthy. Cruz has started 23 games in his career and has recorded 1,919 receiving yards over that span.
For PPR purposes-only, rank 'em: Stevan Ridley, Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore and Lamar Miller
Brad – 1) Bush, 2) Miller, 3) Sproles, 4) Ridley, 5) Gore
Dalton – 1) Bush, 2) Sproles, 3) Ridley, 4) Gore, 5) Miller
Brandon – 1) Bush, 2) Sproles, 3) Miller, 4) Ridley, 5) Gore
Scott – 1) Bush, 2) Sproles, 3) Ridley, 4) Gore, 5) Miller
Andy – First of all, you jokers should stop playing PPR. Especially full-PPR. What a terrible format, weirdly detached from the things we should value. That said, if I had to rank these guys for full-point PPR, I'd probably go Sproles, Bush, Ridley, Miller, Gore. But blech.
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