Fantasy football is supposed to be fun, right fellas? That’s why we play this wild game inside of a game that doesn’t even care whether the players you pick are on the same team or not.
Even with that knowledge, though, being bold can often leave you feeling a little glum if you project something crazy to happen and it doesn’t work out that way. Fantasy football doesn’t reward it either, since most times you’re on an island with your bold take, and if you end up taking a player three rounds ahead of his ADP, you could be missing out on another player that’s in a better position, and you could have gotten your guy later anyways.
We play this game to have fun, though, and making crazy predictions is a part of this lifestyle. When you’re right on a bold prediction, you get a fuzzy, warm feeling in your body that drives you to make even bolder takes the following season.
So what The Game Day’s fantasy team and myself decided to do is contribute two of our boldest takes each for fantasy this season. They can be a situation we’re attacking or a player over/under.
They promise one thing: to be spectacular and tremendously bold. Let’s hop right in. This article features bold predictions from Frank Ammirante, Matt De Lima, Scott Engel, Sam Wagman, and Matt Williams.
Justin Jefferson Breaks 2,000 Yards Barrier — Finishes as Clear WR1 Overall
It’s never been done. For as much as it has been made about this pass-happy era, it’s still eluded us, even with the extra regular season game.
The Minnesota Vikings finished 2022 with the third-most pass attempts (672), and I expect that number to climb in 2023, thanks to a suspect defense. While T.J. Hockenson is due for a strong year, the Vikings lack a clear, established No. 2 receiver.
Jordan Addison, like most rookies, could need a couple of months to get into the swing of playing at a pro level, while K.J. Osborn hasn’t shown much consistency. Last year, Jefferson snagged 128 catches on 184 targets for 1,809 yards and eight scores, which wasn’t far off from the 2,000-yard mark, a benchmark no receiver has eclipsed.
Not Jerry Rice (1,964). Not Calvin Johnson (1,964). Cooper Kupp was the most recent player to flirt with history when he gained 1,947 yards in 2021.
This is the year, folks. We first need Jefferson to earn about 15% more targets, taking him from 184 in 2022 to 212. That would be an NFL record (Marvin Harrison saw 205 targets in 2002).
Assuming Jefferson, our choice for the first wide receiver off the board in drafts, can maintain his career 68.1% catch rate and 14.9 yards per reception, that takes us to an astonishing 2,147 yards. This prediction may not be so bold. – MATT DE LIMA
The Detroit Lions Will Have TWO Top-24 RBs by PPG
Over the last ten seasons, multiple teams have had two RB2s in their backfield in six of those years.
Last year, the Lions were able to make it onto the list for the first time since 2013, but what made it particularly special were the dueling skillsets that allowed both to live in harmony together.
While Jamaal Williams was out there taking every snap from inside the red zone and closer, racking up a league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns, D’Andre Swift was able to make defenders miss on nifty passing routes that made your head spin. He didn’t play enough to make fantasy football managers happy for the price they drafted him at, but he still landed himself inside the top 24.
This year, the personnel may have changed, but the tendencies of head coach Dan Campbell are still there. He wants to run the ball and run it a bunch.
Enter David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. Montgomery is coming off a slightly inefficient season in Chicago but gets a breath of fresh air behind a talented Lions’ offensive line that should give him plenty of room between the tackles.
On the other hand, Gibbs is an explosive rookie that the Lions drafted 12th overall this May to do one thing in particular: catch a ton of passes. In fact, I’ll make a bold prediction inside of a bold prediction: Gibbs catches 90 passes this season.
Watch out for this tandem. I have Gibbs ranked at RB13 and Montgomery at RB23, and there are plenty of reasons why this duo will both finish as RB2s this season. – SAM WAGMAN
Damien Harris Will Outscore James Cook in PPR
Damien Harris is one year removed from rushing for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry, with the former Patriots’ running back averaging 14 points per game in PPR that year, finishing as RB18.
The Bills watched Harris gash their defense, combining for 364 yards (6.4 YPC) against them throughout his career and with them searching for a dependable interior runner after whiffing on Zack Moss, they signed Harris, who should lead the team in rushing touchdowns.
I’m not buying the preseason hype on James Cook. This is an undersized satellite back who’s never had a heavy workload throughout his college career and the 5-foot-11, 199-pound back topped out at 9.3 touches per game at Georgia.
While Cook is a good receiver out of the backfield, Josh Allen is a good rusher, and we know that scrambling quarterbacks target their running backs at lower rates, with the reason why Allen checked it down more last year being due to the elbow injury that prevented him from taking shots downfield.
Now healthy, expect Allen to get back to his usual ways, which would limit Cook’s receiving upside. I expect this backfield to become a committee, with Harris getting the red zone work and Cook working as the change of pace.
Fade the preseason noise and look for Harris to outscore Cook in fantasy. – FRANK AMMIRANTE
Jalin Hyatt Will Be a Top-25 WR in PPR
The Giants rookie has drawn comparison to former Philadelphia Eagles big-play man DeSean Jackson.
He gives New York a downfield option that was sorely needed, with no one else on the roster having the explosive promise that Hyatt does, and he will continue to build on his preseason flashes.
The Giants landed an exciting gem in the third round of this season’s NFL Draft, and I expect the Tennessee product to well outperform his current fantasy draft stock, which is currently in the ninth to 10th rounds.
As a junior, he was fifth in the nation with 1,267 receiving yards and second in the FBS with 15 receiving TDs, so expect him to be comfortable as a frequent scoring target for Daniel Jones. – SCOTT ENGEL
Anthony Richardson Is A Top-10 Quarterback in PPG
While it is true that most quarterbacks struggle during their rookie season, Anthony Richardson has a fail-safe in fantasy football: his wheels.
Richardson made waves at the NFL combine this past spring when he showed up and posted a perfect 10.00 RAS Score, with numerous eye-popping metrics like his vertical jump and 40-yard dash time making him a breakout candidate in scouts eyes.
In 22 games in college, Richardson ran for 1116 yards over 161 attempts with 12 touchdowns. If he can rack up 140 carries, the 21-year-old could make a run at the rookie rushing record for a QB, set by Robert Griffin III (815 yards).
First-year quarterbacks may bust in fantasy football, but high-volume rushing quarterbacks seldom do. –MATT WILLIAMS
Dalton Kincaid Catches 9+ Touchdowns, Finishes as a Top-8 TE
Think back a few seasons to when Cole Beasley was a member of the Buffalo Bills. He manned the slot role and managed to corral an average of 108 targets per season from 2019-21.
Ever since Beasley departed the great plains of upstate New York, Josh Allen has been searching for a new safety blanket whose name is not Stefon Diggs. Enter Kincaid, who plays more like a 6’5" wide receiver than he does a traditional tight end and is one of my favorite fantasy football sleepers this season.
The 2023 first-round draft pick immediately enters an offense where he can compete for slot targets with Deonte Harty, Khalil Shakir, and Trent Sherfield, but the reality is that Kincaid is better than any of them and probably winds up the third target-getter in this offense.
Kincaid should be very valuable as a red zone target. Dawson Knox saw only nine red zone targets last season, and it is clear that the Bills need more of a reliable target down there since they have lacked one for several seasons now.
We could see Kincaid as a featured target in the red zone immediately, but he also works very well as a chain-moving weapon over the middle of the field. He only dropped two passes in his collegiate career and could handle catching over 100 balls in his last two seasons at Utah.
Kincaid will be an immediate weapon for the NFL, and I foresee him making his way into the top 7 of ADP come next July. – SAM WAGMAN
Kenny Pickett Finishes as a Top-10 QB
After a flat rookie season in the stat sheets, Kenny Pickett will rebound in a big way in 2023. He’s quite a popular sleeper choice among fantasy analysts, but I’ll take it a step further in saying he cracks the top 10.
I also am a big believer in George Pickens, and he will blossom this year. The second-year wideout’s body control and catch radius are next-level elite.
Diontae Johnson will continue to be a target machine, Calvin Austin should emerge as a deep threat, and it doesn’t hurt to add a veteran like Allen Robinson to the roster. Round it out with Pat Freiermuth working his magic in the red zone, and this is an offense flying under the radar.
Ultimately, Pickett, to me, is a gamer. He possesses enough athleticism to extend plays and reads through his progressions efficiently. We must remember that Pittsburgh finished the season on a 7-2 run and almost made the playoffs after a 2-6 start.
With left tackle in a better place and Pickett entrenched as the starter, I’d love to snag Pickett late as my backup QB with tons of unrealized upside. – MATT DE LIMA
Amon-Ra St. Brown Outscores Cooper Kupp in PPR
Amon-Ra St. Brown caught 106-of-146 targets for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, which was good for 16.7 points per game in PPR formats, which ranked WR10, but it could have looked better.
That’s because St. Brown dealt with an injury that forced him out of the game early and limited him to a reduced snap share once he returned, and if we take out those games, St. Brown averaged 18.6 points per game, which would have been WR5 last year.
It’s also worth noting that St. Brown was tackled inside the five-yard-line six times last year, so there’s likely positive regression coming in his touchdown output, making him one of the safest players in fantasy. St. Brown has a terrific rapport with Jared Goff, and the Lions have a strong offensive line.
In other words, St. Brown checks all the boxes.
On the other hand, Cooper Kupp is one of the riskiest picks in fantasy. He’s entering his age-30 season, coming off hamstring and ankle injuries, while quarterback Matthew Stafford is also an injury risk due to his elbow.
If Stafford were to miss time, rookie Stetson Bennett would take over, which could be bad news for Kupp’s fantasy production. While Kupp is one of the best wideouts in fantasy when healthy, it’s hard to see Stafford lasting the entire season.
Considering these risks along with St. Brown’s potential improvements, you can see why I think the Lion will outscore the Ram in fantasy this year. – FRANK AMMIRANTE
Tua Tagovailoa Finishes as a Top-5 QB
For Tagovailoa, as we all know, it is simply a matter of remaining healthy to function as a very productive passer.
He has the best WR duo in the NFL and should be even more comfortable as a starter this season.
He looks like the best Miami QB since Dan Marino already. Tagovailoa is a system QB, yet he fits the Dolphins’ offensive system perfectly, and he worked on goals to help him stay on the field this offseason, including bulking up and learning jiu-jitsu to fall correctly.
When Tua was on the field last season, he was incredibly efficient. He ranked first in the NFL in deep ball completion percentage at 50%, and he also had an insane red zone completion percentage of 65.3%.
He is accurate at all three levels of the field, and if he can keep up these efficiency metrics, he could have quite a statistical season, leading him to be a top-five QB. – SCOTT ENGEL
Darren Waller Finishes as the TE2 in PPR Ahead of Mark Andrews
The consensus TE2 among fantasy analysts coming into the season is Mark Andrews.
However, even in a more pass-friendly Ravens offense, Andrews should have more competition than ever for targets. This is one of the reasons why I like Darren Waller to finish as the TE2 this season.
Waller is arguably the best “wide receiver” on the Giants and could realistically lead the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards. New York gave up a third-round pick they received from trading Kadarius Toney to acquire Waller, so Danny Dimes would have a legitimate downfield weapon.
He could see a notable boost in tight end premium scoring leagues, given the fact that he could be in store for 140+ targets this season, according to beat writers.
If Waller can stay healthy, he could be in for a massive year (and a draft day steal). – MATT WILLIAMS