by Nick Ercolano
July 20, 2020
One Bold Prediction from Each Division
Sony Michel is the highest scoring fantasy running back in the AFC East. I think I can talk up Michel and also eliminate the other running backs. In Buffalo, Singletary and Moss are going to cannibalize each other's ceiling. Singletary will get 10 carries a game plus some passing work, Moss will get the short-yardage carries, 10 a game and the GL work that they don't let Josh Allen have. Miami. I mean, same deal, Brieda and Howard who I like, are going to cannibalize each other. And unlike Buffalo, the scoring chances will be even more few and far between. I like Breida this year, as the back who's going to be playing more because of the game script, but his TD upside is probably capped at around 5.
For Sony, I really think this Patriots could be a Baltimore light. Who is better at adjusting game plans and adjusting strategy based on the personnel - New England. You don't think Uncle Bill has paid close attention to Baltimore taking the league by storm and building around Lamar?
I think Sony can operate as what Mark Ingram was last year and will see a big boost in efficiency with Cam under center as opposed to Brady. Their offensive line was very banged up last year, Sony had a ton working against him. Even if we don't see Baltimore light, we can get a bit of a sample of OC Josh McDaniels from his time in Denver the year that Tebow was his starting QB in 2011 - and you look at the RBs there - a 29-30 yeard old Willis McGahee experienced a big bounce back, running for nearly 1,200 yards after three straight years of fewer than 700 yards, and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, just the second time in his 9 year career up to that point that he averaged that he went over 4.1 ypc.
And we can end with Le'Veon Bell, so not only do I want to disqualify him from beating Sony but also want to dive into another bold prediction that Le'Veon Bell finishes outside of the top 30 RBs in fantasy football. Under Adam Gase, behind a below-average offense line, in a bad offense overall - this is gonna be another brutal, rebuilding year for Gang Green. The only thing Bell had working for him last year was the volume and we've heard multiple times already this offseason that they want to lighten his workload. They bring in Frank the gawd Gore, they draft LaMical Perine - I didn't say they're lightening his workload and turning it into something good, but where there's smoke there's usually fire - and Adam Gase has let it be known since he stepped foot in beautiful New Jersey that he was against the Bell signing. Things could get ugly really quickly for the 28-year-old back in New York.
Derek Carr is a top 5 passer in the NFL.
Carr has been surprisingly good given what the Raiders haven't given him. This will be the best group of weapons he's ever worked with: Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, Bryan Edwards, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, Tyrell Williams
Last year Carr set career-highs in both completion percentage (70.4%), Brees was the only QB that had a higher completion rate as well as adjusted completion rate than Carr did last year. Adjusted completion rate - if you take out throwaways, spikes, things like that - Carr completed 82.3% of his throws - yes his aDOT was very low, but he also set a career-high in yardage despite having a career-low in pass attempt - something's gotta give there. Henry Ruggs adds an element that will help carry that yardage total north while still being able to keep the aDOT low.
And most importantly for him while having those good weapons, the Raiders offensive line has been rebuilt tremendously, they ranked 6th per FootballOutsiders in pass-blocking and Carr ranked #1 overall in protection rate per PlayerProfiler.com. (It's hard to find good o-line ranks).
It's Gruden's 3rd year here and he's finally building the offense through personnel that he wants.
We typically see the first year of a new system go a little slow, with huge improvement in year two. Year three should see another step up given the added weapons and wrinkles Gruden can add to the game plans with the newcomers.
So, unless I'm wrong here, cause Rotoviz be pulling some weird shit some time, and I was corrected on Twitter - but according to the numbers I pulled from the RotoViz screener, since the year 2000 (and possible all time the numbers only go byke to 2000), there's never been a team with 2 1000 yard (FS) RBs and two 1000+ yard receivers.
The Cleveland Browns will do that this year, have two RBs and two WRs top 1,000 yards. Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
Odell (1035), Landry (1174) and Chubb (1772) did it last year. Hunt only played in 8 games, only paces out to 928 total yards his total from those four, but i think second year, starting off fresh, with Stefanski coming in they're going to utilize the shit out of both backs, especially in the passing game. Last year, no team had more RB receiving yards off screenplays than Minnesota did. Think that's going to be a big part of this offense in 2020 - upgrade offensive line - more time for Baker to throw, bigger holes for the backs. The only worry here is health for OBJ and Jarvis. Jarvis is tough, that hard knocks scene from a few years byke was cringy that he was yelling at everyone when he first came to CLV, but the mans has played in 96-of-96 games since entering the league. He's coming off of a serious hip surgery though which is what concerns me, but until he shows otherwise he's fine. Odell is finally coming off of a 16-game season as well, for the first time since 2016 and while I think he's probably overrated as a top-end WR talent at this point, he was def hurt last year, and in 2018 he topped 1000 yards in just 12 games. This is going to be a funnel offense to OBJ, and Landry, and to the RBs, yes the bring in Hooper, but he's going to be a RZ presence he ain't geting the looks as he did in ATL - my bold prediction is based on yardage not TDs ya bish.
Derrick Henry has more total yards then the other three teams starting running backs have rushing yards combined.
Indy - share carries between Mack, Taylor and Hines.
Jacksonville - Fournette
Houston Texans - David Johnson
Here are Henry's numbers last year with Ryan Tannehill starts:
Courtesy of Curtis Patrick's tweet (@CPatrickNFL). That's 136 total yards/game = 2183 total yards.
This DOES NOT, I REPEAT, DOES NOT INCLUDE the back-to-back 200+ yard games he had in the playoffs. If you include that, which is a hefty sample of 12 games, you're looking at 141.3 total yards/game = 2260 on the year.
With these other RBs
Taylor and Mack are going to cannibalize each other, I'd be surprised if either go for more than 750. DK Sportsbook has bother their ov/unders at 700. It has Fournette's at 850. David Johnson isn't listed but JFC this guy is really bad at what Bill O'Brien does - shove the ball up the middle with his running backs. David Johnson has been a really bad runner up the middle. If he's going to be relevant in fantasy this year, they're gonna be throwing him the ball, and my prediction is rushing yards combined between these 3 < Derrick Henry's total yards. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if David Johnson finished with fewer than 650 rushing yards.
Henry is the odds on favorite to lead the league in rushing.
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