By: Kyle Richardson (Twitter: @Krich1532)
32 Hot Takes for 32 Teams
“Call Me Crazy”
Twitter has been very fun the last few weeks. Many didn’t agree with what I had to say in my quarterback, running back or wide receiver Dynasty Tier Rankings (and if you missed out, just click the positions and you can add your comments as well.) I had a few Twitter users ask me if I was serious and that these should be included in a hot takes article instead. Let’s give the people what they want then! Even though my rankings were serious and I believe in them, why not do a hot takes article as well. This article is meant to be a little fun and informative. Do I 100% believe everything in this article WILL happen? No, I do not. Do I think some of these things COULD happen? Yes, I do. Let’s take a step back from the serious takes for a moment and have some fun. Who knows, maybe you will agree with something and strike gold this year. Either way, at the end of the article I’m sure there will only be one thing you can do and that’s call me crazy.
*Not all of these takes are not my true feelings. Just because I say a player will have a bad year in this article does not mean I do not like them. I am just looking at facts and information and saying this COULD be an outcome.
John Brown will have 100 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs.
Larry Fitzgerald could be in his last year, so maybe father time finally catches up? Does David Johnson underwhelm due to an incredible workload last year? The Cardinals offense has question marks for me. However, it seems Brown is healthy this year after having injury issues and dealing with the effects of his sickle cell diagnosis. His breakout season in 2015 saw him reach the 1,000 yard mark and haul in 7 TDs on 65 catches. I bank on him taking some catches away from Johnson (the Cardinals may want to use him a little less this year) and being the WR1 for the Cardinals.
No Falcons offensive player finishes in the top 10 at their respective position.
Some people are blowing off the change in offensive coordinator, but I think some of the effects could be real. Steve Sarkisian comes in to replace Kyle Shanahan who has moved on to be San Francisco’s head coach. Sarkisian says he will keep Shanahan’s playbook with a few added parts, but it can take time to adjust to changes like this. The Falcons could start off slow after their Super Bowl let down and sputter through the season. Julio Jones doesn’t play a full year, Devonta Freeman doesn’t perform well while becoming a locker room issue and Matt Ryan can’t replicate 2016. Atlanta could be in for a long year.
Joe Flacco will be a QB1 and Jeremy Maclin will be a WR1.
The Ravens wants use Kenneth Dixon more in the run game, but he’s suspended the first 4 games of the year. Terrence West was not special in his time as lead back last year. If Dixon comes back and can’t get things going after the 4 game layoff, we may see another year of Flacco slinging the ball all over. Last year Baltimore lead the NFL with 679 pass attempts and was 28th in rushing attempts with 367. If the run game isn’t effective, it will be the same story. Wallace will continue to get his looks, but Maclin will now step in and get a chance to see some of the 344 targets the Ravens lost from last season. The Ravens may be just a .500 team this year, but the offense will stick out.
Tyrod Taylor finishes as a top 5 QB.
Taylor finished as QB14 in 2015 and jumped to QB 9 in 2016. He has a new coaching staff that has already said they want to throw the ball more. The most important ingredient in this recipe though, is Sammy Watkins. He’s healthy and does not have a contact in 2018. He is playing to get paid this year. I don’t think Tyrod has the best arm in the world, but he’ll have Zay Jones on one side with Watkins on the other and LeSean McCoy in the backfield. His offensive line has been a great unit as well. He’s going to make plays this year and a lot. Let’s not forget that he runs a little as well. He will pick up extra points there.
Christian McCaffery does not make a big impact in 2017 and Johnathan Stewart finishes as a top 15 RB.
There have always been a couple of knocks on Stewart. He has injury issues and Cam Newton takes away TD and rushing opportunities. Stewart has played in 13 games the past two years and the Panthers has preached using Newton differently so they can extend his career. While I expect McCaffery to help the offense this year, his ADP of 8 in dynasty leagues and 37 in redraft leagues is insane. His first year will be more of a pass catching back, but Stewart will get all of those other carries and he’ll get a few more TDs to boot. Newton has weapons in McCaffery, Curtis Samuel and Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess has his breakout in 2017 (bonus hot take!) and the Panthers offense runs smooth. Stewart is in for a good year.
Jordan Howard suffers the sophomore slump and doesn’t even reach RB2 status.
I don’t think anyone expects a whole lot out of the Bears this year. I’m thinking Glennon doesn’t offer any help at the QB position and Trubisky shows he’s not ready to take over, so every team that plays the Bears stacks the box with 8 guys and Howard has no room to run. I think it’s relatable to Todd Gurley and the Rams last year. Lack of QB play leads opposing teams to focus on the run game.
AJ Green has his most productive season yet.
Some people may not see this as a hot take, just based on Green being Green. Let’s look at some other facts though. The Bengals have more weapons now then every before with Andy Dalton at QB. They drafted John Ross and Joe Mixon, they already have Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard in the backfield and Tyler Eifert at TE. Since Dalton will have so many weapons, wont that take away from Green? The answer is no, it only helps Green. Now he will be free to rip teams apart over the top, through the middle or any other place he wants. Teams will have to focus on everyone that lines up leaving Green with more 1 on 1 coverage than ever before. I don’t think there are many CBs in the NFL that can contain Green by themselves. We are going over 1500 yards and 10 TDs this year as the top WR in 2017.
David Njoku finishes as a top 5 TE in PPR formats.
The TE position seems to be deeper than ever before. A strong draft class in 2017 adds to the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Jimmy Graham and others. Njoku has thrilling upside and his athleticism is through the roof. The Browns are getting better, have a pretty good O Line and seem to have some offensive weapons in place. Cody Kessler will start the year at QB and will use Njoku much more often than his other targets. Not only will Njoku be a safety net for Kessler, but he will be a red zone threat as well. Kessler is known for his accuracy and the short passing game the Browns run fits his style perfectly. At one point in 2016, Kessler had a completion percentage of 65.6 and saw only 8.8 percent of passes off target. He’s going to get Njoku the ball and leave the rest up to him.
Cole Beasley outscores Dez Bryant in PPR formats.
Beasley became a favorite of Dak Prescott last year with 833 yards on 75 receptions. Bryant only played in 13 games in 2016, which allowed Beasley to amass more yards and receptions, but I think Beasley outscores Bryant in 2017 even if Bryant plays in all 16 games. The Cowboys will face a tougher schedule this year and I think they will need to rely on Prescott more in 2016. Now that teams have a full 16 games of film on Prescott, things may be a little more difficult for him in 2017. Beasley will be the one to help bail him out and be his safety net for the season. I like Ryan Switzer, but I don’t think he takes snaps away from Beasley this year. Zeke could be facing a suspension, the O Line lost 2 players and the Cowboys will need to throw a little more in 2017. I like where Beasley ends up this year.
Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas finish as low end WR2 options or less.
I don’t think Paxton Lynch is as good as people thought coming out of the draft last year. Trevor Simien can run the offense well, but in an Alex Smith type way. The Broncos will be running the ball more in 2017 and will look to CJ Anderson, Devonte Booker and Jamal Charles to lead that offense. Thomas and Sanders finished at 16 and 20 respectfully last year in PPR formats, but those rankings slip further when the running game is the focal point.
Matthew Stafford finishes as the top overall QB in 2017.
I’ve been reading a lot about a healthy Ammer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, combined with an upgraded offensive line taking away from Stafford and his fantasy numbers. But who are we kidding, there are the Lions people! The upgraded O Line will actually benefit Stafford more than the run, giving him more time in the pocket to find his receivers. Marvin Jones bounces back to WR2, Eric Ebron finally emerges and Golden Tate continues to be his reliable self. The Lions will face a gauntlet of a schedule in 2017, facing offensive threats such as the Cardinals, Giants, Falcons, Panthers, Saints and Steelers. Also included are the Ravens, Buccaneers and Bengals who are no slouches. Oh yeah, they have to face Aaron Rodgers twice as well. The Lions defense isn’t going to be that much better in 2017 and Stafford will still be chucking the ball as much as any other year, just with a better O Line and run game to take some pressure off.
Green Bay Packers
Ty Montgomery will finish as a top 10 RB and be considered as a first round pick in 2018 drafts.
Just a quick note, I believe this to be my least hot take in this column. I’ve already raved about Montgomery several times this year, but people still seem to doubt him. So instead of writing a bunch more, I am just going to tell you it’s going to happen and you should jump on the bandwagon now. Check out my “I Told You So” article and my appearance on the FFD260 podcast for the reasons why.
Tom Savage is benched before the halfway point, Deshaun Watson doesn’t play any better and Deandre Hopkins won’t finish as a WR2.
Savage will not be the guy in Houston this year, so an antsy fan base screams for the national champion Watson to take over. The only problem is he won’t be the answer either, but Bill O’Brien can’t change again and lets Watson learn on the job in 2017. Hopkins will the one to suffer the most from this (except for O’Brien who is looking for another job after Houston can’t win the AFC South.) Hopkins finished a disappointing WR26 last year. The Texans will be bad, but they wont get blown out. A lot of close losses happen because the defense shuts people down and the Texans run the ball more than years past to take pressure of the QBs. Maybe then Hopkins owners realize he isn’t a WR1 heading into 2018.
Marlon Mack is to 2017, as Jordan Howard was to 2016.
Frank Gore has been the poster child of RB stability over the years, but father time catches up in 2017 ending that due to injuries and ineffectiveness. Andrew Luck is healthy, the Colts offense will be very good and Mack will be right in the middle of that. He becomes the next “out of nowhere” RB and people look at him in 2018 the way people are looking at Howard right now.
Leonard Fournette loses touches to Chris Ivory in 2017 and doesn’t even reach the levels of flex play.
You don’t spend a top 5 pick on a RB just to let him sit behind Chris Ivory of all people. Lets ask ourselves a couple things though. Will Blake Bortles be good enough to keep people off the running game? Is Fournette over the injuries that derailed his 2016 season at LSU? Is the Fournette we saw against Alabama in 2015 and 2016 the real Leonard Fournette? In 2015, he had 19 rushes for 31 yards and in 2016 he had 17 rushes for 35 yards. Maybe that is the Fournette we will see in the NFL and he becomes one of the most overhyped prospects in recent memories. Regardless, 2017 won’t be kind to him and your fantasy team.
Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill finishes behind Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware and Chris Conley in fantasy points.
Hill broke onto the scene last year and became a huge weapon in an offense that isn’t known to be explosive. What will happen in 2017 though when he becomes the focal point and is looked at as the WR1? The results won’t be great. With teams focusing on limiting big plays by Hill, it will open up opportunities for others. Hill will become more of a matchup player instead of a plug and play guy. Smith is a smart QB, he won’t force the ball to Hill if other players are open. Heck, Jeremy Maclin couldn’t even be a viable WR play in Kanas City and I think he’s a better player than Hill.
Los Angeles Chargers
Hunter Henry outscores all Chargers offensive players outside of Melvin Gordon.
Mike Williams may be out for the 2017 season, Keenan Allen is coming off of another injury plagued season and Antonio Gates is getting closer to retirement. Henry will be a huge target for Phillip Rivers (figuratively and literally) and even though there will be lots of players for Rivers to get the ball to, Henry is going to be the one to rise above. One of the biggest reasons he will score so many points in 2017, will be the TDs he piles up. He had 8 TDs in 2016 but I expect double digits in 2017. Add in the catches and yards Gates used to be responsible for, and he reaches Gronk like numbers.
Los Angeles Rams
Tavon Austin becomes a WR2.
Let’s face it, Jeff Fischer wasn’t the brightest offensive mind in the NFL. Austin is not a prototypical WR, but he is a weapon and should be used better. Maybe Sean McVey is the guy to finally help Austin reach his potential. Outside of Todd Gurley, there isn’t much to be excited about with the Rams on offense. McVey is going to need to be creative and the best athlete on that side of the ball is Austin. Nowhere better to start.
Kenyan Drake starts more games than Jay Ajayi.
Agayi is hotter than summer day in Texas right now. Never mind that 420 of his 1272 rushing yards in 2016 game against one of the worst rushing defensive teams in the NFL. Miami has a below average offensive line and Ajayi has documented concerns over the health of his knees. Ajayi is ineffective to start and after injury issues set in this year, the team will see Drake on the field much more often. Drake won’t blow the doors off anything, but he will be reliable and will begin cutting into Ajayis time even if Ajayi gets healthy.
Dalvin Cook will lead all Vikings running backs snaps, but still finish outside the top 20 RBs.
Cook is extremely talented, and will be really good someday, but it won’t be this year. Even though he will end up leading the Vikings backfield, he won’t have enough help to be a true threat. The O Line still isn’t good enough to let the run game succeed and Sam Bradford doesn’t scare too many defenses. If Adrian Peterson can only average 1.9 YPC in 37 attempts with that line, I don’t see a rookie RB doing a whole lot better. The Vikings O Line had one of the worst averages last year for first contact behind the line of scrimmage and the league’s lowest average depth of target, so Cook will need to make a living in the passing game to start.
New England Patriots
James White outscores Mike Gillislee in PPR formats.
Outside of Tom Brady, you can make a case for White being the hero of Super Bowl 51 with 14 catches for 110 yards and touchdown through the air while adding another 29 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. I think maybe the breakout has finally arrived, which I have been waiting on for two years. It looks like the Pats may be moving to and even more spread out, wide open offense than what we have seen in the past. Gillislee would really need to make his living with those red zone carries, but my bet is Gronk continues to get those. White has finally gained the trust of Brady and Belechik and finds his way into games more often in 2017, securing his place as the top weapon out of the backfield.
New Orleans Saints
Coby Fleener is a top 5 TE.
All of the talk this offseason has been about Michael Thomas, the crowded Saints backfield or as usual, Drew Brees. But who’s giving Fleener any love! This Saints offense will continue to motor along as usual, but this year Fleener gets in the action. He disappointed in 2016, but as Thomas and Willie Snead gain more attention, Fleener will find room in the middle of the field to operate. If I remember right, Brees used to love throwing to his tight end. Maybe that happens again?
New York Giants
Brandon Marshall finishes as a top 15 WR.
We all know how good Marshall can be, although I think 2016 made a lot of people forget. Marshall was the #3 WR in 2015 with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his QB. If he can do that with Fitzpatrick, imagine what he can do with Eli Manning throwing him the ball and Odell Beckham Jr. being the main target. Marshall has tremendous TD upside in 2017 and he will get his chance to dominate with a lot of 1 on 1 coverage. Don’t sleep on Marshall yet, this Giants offense is about to roll.
New York Jets
Quincy Enunwa finishes as a reliable WR2.
Now maybe this happens because the Jets will be so bad and they will have no choice but to throw all the time. It’s fantasy football, I don’t care about the outcome of the game. Josh McCown is known for having a big arm and Enunwa was one of the better deep ball pass catches in the NFL last year. That is a match made in heaven if I have ever seen one. The volume is going to be there for Enunwa, it’s up to him to make something of it.
All Raiders running backs not named Marshawn Lynch, combine to outscore Lynch.
The time off for Lynch was just too much and he isn’t himself anymore. While he turns out to be a reliable RB that helps the team, this will become a RBBC a few games in as the Raiders try to manage the health of their lead back. Lynch will get the goal line carries and still play an important role, but DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard see more work than anticipated and thrive behind one of the game’s best O Lines.
Jordan Matthews outscores Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery combined in PPR formats.
Matthews is a slot receiver who has had to play on the outside far too often the last two years. Matthews has racked up 2,389 yards when playing in the slot since 2014. That total is 89% of his career reception yards. While having Jeffery and Smith on the outside will help Matthews, he will be the main receiver to rack up the points this year. Look for him to bounce back in a big way as Carson Wentz continues to mature and grow as well.
LeVeon Bell breaks the single season record for rushing yards and all-purpose yards.
Is this really a hot take? Well, considering the records I just listed yes, it’s hard to predict someone setting a new single season record. Here is why I think this happens though. The Steelers know Bell is on his way out the door. They are not going to pay to keep him next year and because of that, they will run Bell right out of the stadium. Ben Roethlisberger continues to have injury issues meaning the Steelers need to lean on Bell even more. Now toss in how great Bell has been in the passing game, and well, you can see why this could be a perfect recipe for one of the greatest single season performances of all time.
Russell Wilson finishes the season with more rushing yards than Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls or CJ Prosise.
I don’t think the Seahawks want to see Wilson running all over the field anymore, so I don’t think this happens because he sets a new career high for rushing yards in a season. I think this happens purely because of the mess that is the Seahawks backfield. No one knows who will be the lead back, who will plan when or what will really happen. I’m thinking all of them contribute at some point this season but due to injuries, ineffective play, splitting carries and whatever else may happen, Wilson just ends up with more yards than any of them. This would probably be bad news for the Seahawks though, because you don’t want your QB getting hit that much. Wilson had 849 yards on the ground in 2014, so this is completely outside the realm of possibility.
San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde starts all 16 games for the 49ers and finishes as a top 10 RB.
Kyle Shanahan has helped lead Devonta Freeman to back to back top 10 finishes in PPR formats since 2015. We know what he can do with a good running back, and I still believe Hyde is a very good NFL running back. For those Joe Williams supporters out there, his time won’t come yet. Brian Hoyer and Pierre Garcon are excellent additions for the 49ers, but Hyde will be the show this year. He will finally stay healthy and showcase all that talent we have been waiting to see since his days at Ohio State. Shanahan will work his magic yet again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cameron Brate will be a top 10 TE.
As soon as OJ Howard was selected as the top pick for the Bucs in the 2017 draft, Brate started to plummet down boards. It’s not because people didn’t think Brate was good, it was just because the top TE in the draft was added to his team. I don’t think Howard has nearly the impact people think, especially in 2017. Brate will still be the top TE on the Bucs and with the addition of Desean Jackson to take the top off the defense and Mike Evans continuing to be a dominant WR, Brate will get the targets to grow on this 2016 campaign.
Eric Decker is a top 15 WR in PPR formats.
Not many people saw their stock rise more during the 2017 offseason then Decker who was cut by the Jets. Decker gets to be the veteran on a young team with an offense that is on the rise. The pressure is off of Decker because he will have talent around him with Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield, Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews on the outside and Delanie Walker at tight end. Decker has been a PPR monster in the past, but he is not your typical slot receiver either. Decker knows how to scores TDs and is a great receiver in the red zone. He will be perfect for Marcus Mariota to target.
Rob Kelley will start all 16 games in 2017 and be a top 15 running back.
As with Ty Montgomery, I gave a convincing breakdown on the FFD260 podcast regarding their upside in 2017 (and beyond) and why I think both have a chance to be excellent pros. Since this is the last team anyway for this article, I am going to point you towards the podcast, not only because it is an excellent podcast, but because you would much rather hear my voice than read another word I’ve written. So head over to episode 6 of the FFD260 podcast and check out my defense of Rob Kelley and Ty Montgomery there.