The NFL season is officially just two weeks away. Most of your decisions for upcoming fantasy football drafts are likely based on consensus rankings, opinions, and expectations. However, don’t be afraid to have a few bold predictions shape some of your decision-making for this season. If you play it safe, you could limit your potential. Below are a handful of my bold predictions for the NFL season and what they mean for fantasy football.
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Bold Predictions for the 2021 NFL Season
1) Zach Wilson wins Offensive Rookie of the Year
The second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is starting to turn heads. In just two NFL preseason games, the former BYU quarterback has thrown for 191 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 pass attempts. More importantly, he isn’t turning the ball over. Wilson has yet to be sacked nor has he thrown an interception in either of the first two games.
Sure, it’s just preseason, but Wilson is no stranger to success when it counts. The New York Jets got their guy after Wilson threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and completed a BYU school record 73.5% of his passes last season. On top of that, he only threw three picks and rushed for 254 yards as well as 10 additional scores on just 70 attempts. This bold prediction may not be so crazy once the 2021 season gets going.
Other rookie quarterbacks, such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones are getting most of the preseason attention. Last year’s OROY winner, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback, Justin Herbert, lit up the league and silenced doubters with an impressive rookie campaign. The narrative around Wilson feels strikingly similar and he’s more than capable of posting similar stats.
The Jets are surrounding Wilson with free agent wide receiver, Corey Davis, off of a career year, as well as top draft picks, pass-catching running back, Michael Carter, Jr., and receiver, Elijah Moore. If this bold prediction doesn’t seem so bold to you, Davis’ WR44, Moore’s WR55, and Carter’s RB30 ADPs are all discounts.
Don’t be afraid to target these players on this new-look Jets offense. You’ll be glad you did when Wilson takes the field at the start of the season. His success can be your success if you keep the Jets in mind on draft day.
2) Derrick Henry Wins Third Straight Rushing Title
This is a bold prediction to remind you that Derrick Henry is still really, really good. Only three players have won three straight rushing titles since 1932: Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, and Emmitt Smith. That would be some pretty great company for Henry to cement himself into history with.
Especially if you play in a Points Per Reception league, Henry gets overlooked because he doesn’t catch many passes out of the backfield. In the last two seasons, as the rushing leader, Henry has tallied 718 touches, which are the total of carries and receptions. Only 37 of those touches have been receptions. That’s a bit more than five percent.
Yet, Henry still has back-to-back finishes as a top-five running back in fantasy football because of his volume as a ball carrier and ability to find the end zone. Henry will continue to be the focal point of the Tennessee Titans offense in 2021, paving the way for another shot as the league’s rushing leader.
I know the Titans have Julio Jones lined up at receiver this season. Believe it or not, that helps Henry’s case even more. The Titans’ offense, which was the fourth-best scoring offense last season, gets an upgrade with Julio lined up outside, along with A.J. Brown. With two top-tier threats in the passing game, Henry will likely have less defensive pressure stacked against him up front. In addition, he will continue to see his typical, heavy workload in the red zone.
It’s worth noting that he gets to play the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars four total times. They were both top-three in points per game allowed to running backs last season.
Any doubts about Henry returning his value as a first-round pick investment should be forgotten. He’s defending the rushing title in 2021 and has a great chance to win his third straight. Don’t overthink using a top pick on King Henry.
3) Kyle Pitts Will Break the Rookie Tight End Receiving Yard Record
It’s certainly not a bold prediction to think Pitts is going to be a top-10 tight end in fantasy football. His current ADP is TE4 ahead of his rookie season. To some, that price tag may be a bit too high, but is it crazy to say it could be low?
Mike Ditka holds the rookie receiving yard record with 1,076 yards in 1961. The next highest is Jeremy Shockey with 894 in 2002.
The Atlanta Falcons investment in Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick this year makes him the highest-drafted tight end ever. Don’t consider him just another tight end, though.
Pitts brings 4.46 40-yard dash speed and is a matchup nightmare with his 6’6″ 245-pound frame. For comparison purposes, Kansas City Cheifs tight end, Travis Kelce is 6’5″, 260 lbs, and ran a 4.61 40-yard dash.
Kyle Pitts joins an Atlanta Falcons squad with a new head coach in Arthur Smith, the previous offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. As previously mentioned, the Titans were a top-four scoring offense last season. With the departure of Julio Jones, Pitts slides in as one of the top-two pass catchers in Atlanta alongside wide receiver, Calvin Ridley.
The second-most targeted pass catcher in Tennessee, under Smith, last season was Corey Davis who turned 92 targets into 65 receptions for 984 yards. Pitts, as a member of the Florida Gators, recorded just 43 receptions but for a whopping 770 yards; a 17.9 yards per reception average.
Pitts is going to see a major increase in volume at the professional level, especially to justify his draft capital. With an experienced quarterback, former MVP, Matt Ryan, under center, there’s no reason why Pitts can’t break this record. If he does, based on last year’s yardage totals amongst tight ends, he would rank third at the position.
Don’t let this bold prediction encourage you to select Pitts over Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle. Let’s not get too carried away. I do think, however, that Pitts’ TE4 could be right on the money with the potential to crack the top three.
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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