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 heading into June.
Larry Fitzgerald, coming off a regrettable 2012, receiving yards in the follow-up 1,249.5
Dalton – OVER. Fitzgerald will be 30 years old this season and may be leaving the prime phase of his career, but 2012's down campaign can safely be entirely attributed to Arizona's league-worst quarterback play. Even a mediocre Carson Palmer represents a significant upgrade, and Fitzgerald will benefit greatly. Fitzgerald has reached 1,250 receiving yards just once since 2008, so this is hardly a guarantee, but new coach Bruce Arians' downfield philosophy appears to be a great fit.
Andy – Sure, I'll take the OVER. Fitz has topped this yardage total four times in his career, he's one of the most talented receivers in league history, and he'll have a featured role in a Bruce Arians offense. I'm in.
Scott – OVER. We're all recommending Trident. The Cardinals quarterbacking was a joke last year; Palmer is nothing special, but he's a definite upgrade. And the offensive line can't be quite as bad as it was in 2012.
Robert Griffin III, who is on the fast-track to Week 1 availability, rushing yards 499.5
Brandon – OVER. He'd only have to average 32 rushing yards per game to top this mark. And he was able to do that in 11 of 15 games last season. Even if they alter his rushing attempts and approach, RG3 should still be able to hit 500-plus rushing yards given his tremendous physical skills and natural instincts.
Brad – UNDER. RGIII's rapid recovery is nothing short of Peterson-ry, but he and the Shanahans are pushing to be more cautious when running the football. He'll take off when the opportunity is there, but don't expect as many designed runs as last season. Ultimately, until the passer is clearly 100-percent, which could extend weeks into the regular season, he'll remain anchored to the pocket. Bank on him finishing just shy of 500.
Scott – OVER. I know he wants to play smarter, but old instincts die hard - and the Shanahan's are unlikely to radically change the playbook.
Reggie Bush, who could resemble the ultra-versatile rusher he was in New Orleans, total receptions in his first season with the Lions 69.5
Brad – OVER. Jim Schwartz boastfully claimed Bush could haul in upwards of 80 passes back in April. It may seemed farfetched, but in an offense that passed nearly 67-percent of the time last year and given the RB's rich history as a pass-catcher, finishing in the 70-80 range seems plausible. With Mikel Leshoure slotted for goal-line duty, TDs will be few and far between, but the former Kardashian candoodler will be an indispensable asset in PPR formats.
Scott – OVER. Bush is best used as a satellite player and the Lions pass to set up the pass.
Dalton – OVER. Matthew Stafford set an NFL record with 727 pass attempts last season (one year after he attempted what at the time was the third most attempts in a season), which resulted in a mediocre RB talent like Joique Bell to rack up 52 catches in limited playing time. Bush did have six drops last year, but he's likely to see his targets double in 2013. He's going to be a beast in PPR formats now with Detroit.
Outside Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, which QB2 boasts the most top-12 potential: Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler or Philip Rivers?
Dalton – PALMER. He quietly threw for more than 4,000 yards over just 14 games for a dysfunctional Oakland team last season and now gets to throw to Larry Fitzgerald (Michael Floyd and Rob Housler could emerge as fine secondary options as well). New coach Bruce Arians loves to attack downfield, and his aggressive scheme could lead to some nice passing stats. Especially in that division, Arizona is going to be playing from behind an awful lot in 2013.
Andy – Um...none? What a terrible list. I don't hate any of those names, but none of 'em are close to my top-12. FLACCO is the highest on my board, but I wouldn't even draft him in a standard 10-team fantasy league.
Brandon – FLACCO. In the six full games (including postseason) that Flacco played with Jim Caldwell – he of Indy/Peyton Manning hurry-up offense fame – as the offensive coordinator, he averaged 284 passing yards and threw at least two TD passes in all six games.
Buzzy back David Wilson, expected to take on an expanded role in the Giants backfield, total yards 1,199.5
Andy – OVER. I don't actually love Wilson the way many experts do, but he'll clearly have a major role in this backfield. And really, 1,200 isn't a huge total yardage number. Eighteen different running backs reached it last year, including Ahmad Bradsahw and Shonn Greene. Wilson can get there, even if he's in a job-share.
Brandon – OVER. 900 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards gets it done on this one, and I can see that kind of yards from scrimmage breakdown for Wilson when '13 is all said and done. Andre Brown is a nice short-yardage piece, but the Giants are much more dangerous with Wilson on the field.
Brad – UNDER. The fantasy 'expert' community and Wilson seriously need to get a room, a very large one. The love affair for the Giant has reached ridiculous proportions. In recent 12-team mocks conducted across the Web, he's consistently gone in Round 2. No doubt, he's highly explosive, particularly around the edge, but his suspect interior running (3.9 YPC up-the-middle in '12) combined with question marks regarding his pass protection skills cloud his overall worth. In what will likely be a 60-40 timeshare look for Andre Brown to tote the heavy end, including all goal-line touches.
Men in the mirror. Pick one in PPR: Danny Amendola or Wes Welker?
Scott – Welker is margarine, AMENDOLA is butter. There's probably less competition for the ball in New England, unless you believe fairy tales about Gronk's recovery.
Dalton – AMENDOLA. I know he should be viewed as the bigger injury risk, but considering their situations, he also has a lot more upside. Now in Denver, Welker will be sharing looks with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, whereas Amendola slides into his old slot position in New England, a spot where Welker racked up 348 targets over the last two seasons. If Amendola could somehow stay healthy, he has top-five WR upside in PPR formats.
Andy – AMENDOLA. But I don't really feel great about this pick. I'm expecting Amendola to see more per-game targets than Welker, but I feel much better about Wes' chances to play a full season.
Steven Jackson, one of the more ballyhooed offseason acquisitions, total 2013 touchdowns with the Falcons 10.5
Brandon – OVER. Michael Turner topped this number in each of his five seasons in Atlanta, and topped S-Jax in red zone rush attempts by a 283 to 156 margin over that period of time. Life in Atlanta will be a serious upgrade for S-Jax
Brad – OVER. Practically a septuagenarian in RB years, Jackson would seem to be on his last leg. However, coming off his eighth-straight season with at least 1,200 total yards, there's plenty of spring left in his step. Over his nine-year career, S-Jax, a victim of several sorrowful St. Louis teams, has only splashed pay-dirt 11-plus times once. But now the featured back in a ferocious Atlanta offense he should finish in the 12-14 range. Recall a decrepit Michael Turner surpassed the above number last year.
Scott – OVER. It's a high-octane offense and the Falcons like to run around the goal. Michael Turner's value was kept afloat past the sell-date. Jackson still has gas in the tank.
Fill in the blank: Rob Gronkowski suits up ______ times, hauls in ______ receptions for _______ yards and ______touchdowns.
Dalton – 12, 65, 900, 12.
Andy – 13, 83, 993, 13. These numbers are based on many thousands of simulations, so you know you can take 'em to the bank.
Brandon – 13 games played, 75 receptions, 820 yards and 10 TDs
Rookie Wrangle. Pick one in standard formats: Le’Veon Bell, Montee Ball or Eddie Lacy.
Brad – BELL. Pittsburgh's 'Big Rig' is in a prime position to plow through the competition. Team OC Todd Haley views the ex-Spartan as a three-down back who will shoulder the load immediately. Because of his 4.60 40-yard wheels, he will win few, if any, open-field dashes. However, straight-line speed at running back is overrated. Question marks regarding the Steelers' offensive line remain, but Bell's nimble feet, punishing frame and Clydesdale-like endurance should lead him to a 1300-total yard, 7-9 TD inaugural campaign.
Scott – Although Denver's backfield looks crowded now, I fully expect BALL to get every chance to be the bell cow. And it's a good gig to have, running against defenses that are primarily set up to defend the pass.
Dalton – BALL. But it's extremely close, and I wouldn't argue strongly against the other two options. Ball's path to the starting role might not be the clearest as of right now, but I think he emerges as the Broncos' workhorse, and the situation in Denver is mighty enticing. He could threaten to lead the league in goal-line carries as a rookie.
Multiple Choice. After the QB Big Four fall off the board (Brees, Rodgers, Cam and Peyton), what passer is next in line: A) Tom Brady, B) Russell Wilson, C) Colin Kaepernick, D) Matt Ryan, E) RGIII, F) Matthew Stafford, G) Steve Beuerlein circa ‘99
Brad – WILSON. Alongside Ryan, the Seattle sensation owns the fewest question marks. He's highly intelligent, multifaceted and, according to Pete Carroll, currently "a million miles ahead" of where he was at this time a year ago. Add Percy Harvin to the mix, and he possesses the make-up of a top-five quarterback. Sophomore slump be damned.
Scott – I have RYAN but I'm not militant about it. The idea is to deplete a tier, not to jump-start the dogpile. Any of these names look nifty as a legitimate, every-week QB1.
Dalton – BRADY. I'm tempted to pick my guy Kaepernick, but SF just lost Michael Crabtree, and there's too much track record to go against Brady. His receiving weapons are admittedly shaky, especially with health concerns surrounding Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Amendola, but great QBs make WRs, not vice-versa, and Brady is an inner-circle Hall of Famer. He'll be 36 years old in 2013, but Brady has averaged 5,031 yards and 36.5 passing TDs (with seven rushing scores to boot) over the past two seasons.
Andy – Well, I have to say BRADY here, because I actually ranked him in my top-four. Honestly, this year I think there's basically a Big Two (Brees & Rodgers), and then a collection of 8-9 quarterbacks who could should be considered tier-two fantasy assets. I won't much care which one I land.
Brandon – WILSON. Call me a homer, but Wilson was tied with Cam Newton for fantasy points per game at the QB position from Week 9 thru Week 17. And he's got a shiny new toy in Percy Harvin.
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