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FTF's Bold Predictions for 2020

Most people will try to make completely outlandish takes when it comes to bold predictions or "hot takes". While I understand the nature of the article is to grab headlines, I believe fantasy football's bold predictions should at least have a reasonable path to come to fruition.

For this article we'll go from relatively reasonable to completely bold:

  1. Terry McLaurin and D.J Chark both finish as top 15 WR's

On the surface this may seem crazy: Two young WR's who are essentially the only receiving options, not to mention they are both in what are perceived to be bad offenses.

While this is true, both of these guys are in line for a dominant target share. Not dominant in terms of Jamison Crowder, where they would be treated as slot receivers, dominant WR's who could see 135-150 targets while accounting for a large chunk of air yards.

Terry Mclaurin as a rookie had 41% of The teams air yards

D.J Chark accounted for 33% of the Jaguars air yards in 2019

McLaurin is in line to see a 50% increase in volume as the Redskins bring in pass-happy high-pace (Panthers ran nearly 200 more plays than WAS in 2019) OC Scott Turner that just had year 2 DJ Moore on pace for 152-98-1300-6 over 16 games. Give McLaurin that same volume and (Based on his 2019 efficiencies) he goes for 94-1504-11 stat line which would have scored 263.4 Half PPR points (Would have been the WR2 overall in 2019)

Obviously this won't happen for McLaurin but given his alpha WR talent and his likelihood to see overwhelming volume, the upside is sky high and the floor is much steadier than people think

Chark's upside comes from two different places: the typical "Year 3 Jump" for WR's, and none other than the two most important words in the Jaguars offense: Jay Gruden. Forget about Gruden in Washington, when he was the OC with the Bengals from 2011-2013 he helped AJ Green realize his superstar potential. The hope is that Gruden can help continue to mold Chark into a discount A.J Green.

AJG's Rookie Year stat line: 115-65-1057-7

DJ Chark's 2nd year breakout stat line: 118-73-1008-8

AJG's year 2 stat line: 164-97-1350-11

AJG's year 3 stat line: 178-98-1426-11

Surely we can't expect this type of jump for D.J Chark, but we'd be stupid to not consider that Jay Gruden schemes up plays to get his best player the football. 160+ targets is wishful thinking but 130-140 is definitely attainable.

If we give Chark a modest 135 targets this would be his stat line (based on 2019 efficiencies): 84-1147-9, good enough for 210.7 Half-PPR points (Would have been WR7 overall in 2019)

Obviously as volume goes up, efficiency goes down but both of these guys have ceilings as high as anybody not named Thomas, Adams, Julio or Hill and they are being drafted in rounds 5 and 6.

This article is for bold predictions but being completely transparent, this is how we have them ranked on our instagram ( )

2. Josh Jacobs makes Gruden look smart, finishes as a top 5 RB

Jacobs over Cook, Henry, Mixon, Sanders, Chubb etc. I know, I know, this is blasphemous! The knock on Jacobs last year was that the Raiders offense wasn't good, he saw stacked boxes and he didn't catch passes. Seemingly the Raiders answered the first 2 concerns by bringing in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards to help alleviate stacked boxes while simultaneously giving Derek Carr more competent players to throw to!

Did you know, that as a rookie with a fracture shoulder for his last 7 games, Jacobs was tied with Zeke, Cook, and Henry with 9 games with at least 100 total scrimmage yards?

Jacobs did this in just 13 games and was on pace for 11 games of 100+ scrimmage yards in a full 16 game season.

Josh Jacobs is the face of the Raiders franchise. He is the focal point of the Raiders offense, not just a complementary piece. This puts him in the same category as Cook and Henry for me.

Jacobs also stood out as someone that made the most of every single touch that was given to him. Jacobs ranked top 10 in each of the following metrics:

Broken tackles/attempt (#9)

YAC/attempt (#5)

Yards created per touch (#10)

Breakaway Runs (#3)

Juke Rate (#6)

So all these stats tell you Josh Jacobs is #good. The Oakland Raiders are telling you Josh Jacobs is "the guy" and he is a strong candidate to lead the league rushing with a workload of 275+ carries on the way. So where is the top 5 upside? Receiving.

People will point to resigning RB Jalen Richard as the nail in the coffin for Jacobs but those same people fail to realize Deandre Washington, coming off of a 41 targets 36 receptions and 292 receiving yards, left and went to Kansas City. Who Washington's vacated receiving work goes to is what will determine Jacobs' upside.

When asked where he wanted to improve going into year 2, Jacobs said he wanted "at least 60 catches." While this is a lofty number, this type of expectation doesn't come up for no reason. Jacobs knows the capacity in which he will be used, and that capacity clearly includes an increase in receiving work.

Expect Jacobs to see one of the most consistent workloads in the NFL with anywhere from 275-300 carries and roughly 3 catches per game. The stars are aligning for Jacobs to take a Dalvin Cook-esque jump in 2020 and all we had to do was look!

3. Pat Shurmur helps mold Noah Fant into a top 8 TE

This one is pretty simple. Breakout tight ends are typically Uber-athletic players that are also productive after the catch. Noah Fant's rookie season may have rubbed some people the wrong way with a few drops here and there, but in reality his rookie year was pretty special.

Since 2010 only 10 rookie TE's have had over 500 yards receiving in year 1.

That list includes: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Evan Engram, Mark Andrews and George Kittle.... (and Chris Herndon!)

Pretty elite company!

So how does Fant go from good rookie to great fantasy asset? Pat Shurmur.

Last year Fant wasn't fully used as a receiving tight end, former OC Rich Scarangello used Fant as an inline blocker who would occassionally run routes. Shurmur will not make that same mistake. In his time running the Giants and Vikings offenses, Shurmur had Evan Engram on pace for 100+ targets each of the last 2 seasons and he gave Kyle Rudolph 132 targets in 2016!

Fant will surely see an increase from his 66 targets in 2019, and considering he led the league in YAC/catch with 8.4 yards (1 full yard more than Kittle) Fant has the upside to become a key cog in this revamped Broncos offense. The team will throw more as a whole and Shurmur will make it a point to involve his star young tight end.

At the tight end position you want to get players that can make the jump into the elite category. With Fant, the RAC talent is there, the athletic ability is elite (96th percentile or higher in all athletic metrics) the early career production is there, and most importantly the opportunity will be there.

Fant is one of the best buys at the tight end position and has a great chance to crack the top 8 in 2020.

4. Ronald Jones scores 12+TD's en route to a top 15 finish

The moment the Bucs selected Keshawn Vaughn in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft, the majority of us thought he would be "the guy" for the Brady-led Bucs. Shortly after jumping to that conclusion, I decided to check the film on both players and see where Vaughn might have the edge. Expecting to make a compelling case on Vaughn, I ended up completely selling myself on RoJo.

Youtube explanation as to why I think RoJo is good^

Everyone knows how good this offense can be. Brady, Evans, Gronk, Godwin, Howard all coached by Bruce Arians? Uh-oh. Who will the touch leader in a high-octane offense? The running back. Who is the Bucs starting running back? RoJo.

Ideally if you have a great quarterback who is 42 years old, you don't want him throwing the ball 600+ times a game. The Bucs defense has improved and the offense likely won't be turning the ball over 41 times. This means more offense and more importantly, more rush attempts. Ronald Jones saw 203 touches in 2019 and is now likely to see a floor of 250 touches in 2020. Despite not receiving the majority of the goal line work in 2020, RoJo still scored all 6 of his touchdowns on 10 carries inside the 10 yard line, a league-high conversion rate of 60% inside the 10. That sample size is small but he succeeded in scoring situations in 2019, we have no reason to believe he won't see opportunity there in 2020.

With goal-line work and the majority of carries in a high-powered offense. Don't be surprised if Ronald Jones falls into the end-zone double digit times and rushes for over 1000 yards. 12 touchdowns is hard to project for any running back that isn't currently considered elite, but if anyone has a chance of doing so it is most definitely Ronald Jones.

The upside for Jones is high and the floor is borderline unplayable. He looks safer now with Keshawn Vaughn being relegated to special teams to start the season so if you are looking for an RB3 with high week-to-week upside in the middle rounds of your draft, RoJo is your guy.

5. Alvin Kamara leads the league in TD's and finishes as the RB1

Based upon what we've been accustomed to, Alvin Kamara had a bad year last year.

He missed 2 games with a high-ankle sprain and also fought through a torn MCL after week 6. Alvin Kamara did so bad that in 14 games he 1330 yards from scrimmage and 6 TD's, truly shameful.

Kamara is now 25 years old, Brees is 41 and Latavius Murray is 30. Through his first 6 games before injury, Kamara was on pace for 317 touches and 1730 yards from scrimmage. At that pace, the workload and the yardage totals would have increased.

The only stat that would have sharply declined was touchdowns. Given that the Saints RB Room had averaged 27 TD's in Kamara's first 2 seasons in NOLA and then went down to 12 last year, I'd argue the lack of TD's is an anomaly and Kamara should bounce back from that in a BIG way.

Kamara scored 75% of the Saints RB TD's when healthy in 2019, so if we expect the Saints to get back to their 3-year average of 26 TD's, and Kamara gets 75% of the Saints RB TD's, Kamara would score roughly 20TD's.

Sure expecting Kamara to score 20TD's isn't the right thing to do, but it shows you just how high he can climb in 2020. If Kamara posts his pre-injury stat line and scored 14 TD's, he would have finished as the RB2 in 2020.

This prediction is toughest to come true because you are asking CMC to come down from a peak that seemingly no other running back can reach. All signs point towards CMC repeating as the RB1 but Kamara is one of few players that has the rushing, receiving and touchdown upside to threaten CMC for that top spot!

Follow me on instagram @firsttakefantasy

and on twitter @FTfantasyFB

Co-Host of the "FT Fantasy Football Podcast"



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