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    Fantasy football bold predictions: How do we view Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Michael Thomas in 2022?

    A big part of fantasy football is being brave and making bold predictions about a player. If those bold predictions pay off, you’ve given yourself a huge differentiation over your league-mates. Whether that bold prediction is a player others have written off generating a strong season or a player everyone expects to succeed instead struggle, being bold and backing your research is key.

    Below, the PFN Fantasy Team has highlighted 25 bold predictions for the 2022 NFL season. Check them out, combine them with your own research, and see which ones you agree with. Then use those bold predictions to differentiate yourself during your drafts.

    If you’re looking for more contrarian predictions for the 2022 NFL season, be sure to check out the PFN Fantasy Football Draft Kit, which is available through PFN Pass. Additionally, if you want to ask our analysts more about their bold predictions, be sure to drop into our free Discord server, where we are around to answer your questions, and check out our consensus 2022 fantasy football rankings.

    Fantasy football bold predictions for 2022 | Ben Rolfe

    Here are Ben Rolfe’s — PFN’s Fantasy Football Director — bold predictions for the 2022 season, including Daniel Jones finishing as a top-15 QB in 2022.

    Daniel Jones finishes as a top-15 QB in 2022

    There is a lot to be excited about with Daniel Jones this year. Sure, things have been rocky through the first three years of his career, but his environment has hardly been stable. He lost his head coach after a solid rookie year and found himself with a first-time head coach who was largely regarded as a very conservative play caller.

    Now, Jones moves on to Brian Daboll as head coach and offensive play caller — the man largely heralded for developing Josh Allen from raw talent to polished NFL QB. The situation is slightly different as Allen was with Daboll since rookie season. However, Jones has the opportunity, in a contract year, to prove his worth with some talented pieces surrounding him.

    Daboll’s offense should look a lot different from what we see with Joe Judge in charge. Jones ranked 28th in intended air yards per pass attempt last year (7.2), while Allen was seventh, averaging a whole yard more (8.2). With that will come mistakes, but Jones actually had a better percentage of his throws on target in 2021 (76.1%) than Allen (74.8%).

    Jones’ ceiling is capped compared to Allen simply because he does not run as much. However, he can provide enough with his legs — 1,000 yards in three seasons with five touchdowns — to boost his fantasy value. At his current ADP, Jones has an opportunity to be a huge bargain and a borderline QB1 if things can come together under Daboll.

    Drake London finishes as a top-12 WR

    The Falcons’ offense is fascinating because there are so many question marks over how things will work this year. That uncertainty has presented a ton of value, with Cordarrelle Patterson one of my biggest sleepers for 2022. When it comes to the passing game, there is also plenty of value to be found, with a number of targets available from last year.

    In total, there are over 270 vacated targets in this offense. While Kyle Pitts will likely see an increase on his 110 targets, that is still a huge number to be distributed. The Falcons took Drake London as the first WR off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he should see plenty of game time. We have seen first-year WRs flourish in recent years, and London will likely get the opportunity to be the next one.

    In terms of their pace of play, the Falcons were merely average last year. Oddly, when they were trailing, they were actually slower than when they were leading. However, the 2021 Falcons were a strange team in terms of makeup and the fact they outperformed expectations to be in the shakeup late in the season. That understandably can make a coach cautious with his offense.

    This year should be different. The Falcons’ defense is a major question mark, and the expectation is that they will struggle. Their projected win total is just five games, and the odds indicate the under is the more popular play. Additionally, there is no clear bell-cow back on this roster. Therefore, this team should throw the ball plenty, and with Pitts likely to see double coverage, London could be set for a monster season in terms of volume.

    Mac Jones finishes lowest of the 2021 QBs to start Week 1

    This bold prediction is really more of a bet on the progression that the other second-year QBs will take than an indictment of Mac Jones. I expect Jones to be a solid option at the QB position, but the play-calling situation raises concerns about his upside. We saw how conservative Judge was calling plays in New York, and this Patriots team is built to play good defense and protect the ball on offense. It is tough to see them letting Jones open up and fire the ball around this season.

    In contrast, all of the other second-year QBs are in situations where things could be more open. Trevor Lawrence has an aggressive, offensive coach in Doug Pederson. He made Carson Wentz a top-10 fantasy QB twice in three years, and Lawrence is arguably a better natural talent. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Davis Mills are on teams that are likely going to need to be aggressive on offense. Jones will be fine, but of those five QBs, he is the one with the lowest upside.

    Davante Adams is not a top-12 WR on a per-game basis

    Davante Adams has been a top-12 WR for fantasy on a per-game basis for each of the past six seasons. However, things look very different in 2022 after his move to the Las Vegas Raiders. For the last few years, Adams has been the only show in town in terms of reliable WRs in Green Bay. He had the implicit trust of Aaron Rodgers and has accordingly been a target monster.

    That situation now looks very different in Las Vegas. Derek Carr already has rock-solid connections with both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Sure, he and Adams have history from college, but that was nearly a decade ago. Adams’ top-five finishes in the position in the last two years came with a target share of over 29%. It would be extremely unlikely to see him repeat that number in Las Vegas with their other weapons.

    Adams will still be a solid fantasy option, but his ADP just inside the first round is far too rich. In what appears to be a stacked position this year, the loss of just two or three targets per game could make a huge difference.

    Still not convinced that 2022 might be a down year for Adams? Then be sure to check out why BJ Rudell also believes Adams is being overvalued in a big way heading into the 2022 NFL season in the PFN Draft Kit available through the PFN Pass.

    Darrel Williams is the highest fantasy producer in the Cardinals backfield

    Darrel Williams was sneakily effective for fantasy managers in 2022. Yes, his 3.9 yards per rush attempt were underwhelming, but he turned 47 receptions into 452 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Now, in Arizona, Williams is fighting another uphill battle for relevancy after Arizona gave James Conner a three-year deal worth $21 million.

    The thing is, Conner was never actually all that spectacular in 2021. He did not have a single 100-yard rushing game. Additionally, his usage through the first eight weeks of the season was extremely spotty. He saw more than 15 rushing attempts three times in those eight weeks and was targeted a grand total of five times in that period. It was only once we saw Chase Edmonds get hurt that Conner became the main man in Arizona.

    Conner also has a checkered injury history. He has never played a full season, with last year’s 15 games being his best return in a single season. Conner has also had a much higher career workload, with more than three times the number of carries of Williams.

    This 2022 fantasy football bold prediction is as much a negative prediction on Conner as it is positive on Williams. The thing is that Williams’ ADP as a close-to-last-round selection makes him a no-risk option with plenty of potential upside.

    Tyler Allgeier finishes as the top rookie RB this season

    This is really more of an indictment on how I feel about the rookie RBs in 2022 than it is a shining light for Tyler Allgeier. Patterson is still who I expect to be the top RB in terms of fantasy points in Atlanta. However, it is clear that the Falcons do not want to overuse Patterson in the run game, and Allgeier has a great shot to work his way into significant rush attempts this year.

    Despite the Falcons being among the teams to run the ball the least in 2021, Mike Davis still managed to finish just outside the top 36 at the position. Davis is an uninspiring runner who averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt in his career. Allgeier is coming off a 1,601-yard season and should provide more pop to the offense than Davis did. Allgeier could also be in line to pick up some of the 58 targets left behind by Davis’ departure this offseason.

    Allgeier has a great shot to be an RB3 for fantasy managers in 2022. That could easily be good enough to see him beat out the likes of Kenneth Walker and Breece Hall as the top rookie RB in terms of fantasy points this season.

    Devin Lloyd finishes as a top-five IDP scorer as a rookie

    Switching tack to the defense for my final bold prediction for the 2022 fantasy football season, and this is one for the IDP players out there. Now scoring systems for IDP vary from league to league, so before you take too much stock into this prediction, ensure linebackers are well-rewarded in your format. If they are, make sure Devin Lloyd is near the top of your priority list for this season.

    Lloyd is projected to be a Week 1 starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars after they took him in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. In college, Lloyd was a complete player. In his senior season, Lloyd produced seven sacks, four interceptions, and 111 total tackles, with 22 of them for a loss. He was also credited with six passes defended and forced a fumble.

    Those numbers scream three-down player. While Lloyd will have to compete with Foyesade Oluokun for that spot when the Jaguars go to just one inside linebacker on the field, he more than has the talent to hold his own. Lloyd is a fantastic chess piece for the Jaguars, and fantasy managers could reap huge rewards.

    Fantasy football bold predictions: How do we view Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Michael Thomas in 2022?
    Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Devin Lloyd (33) and teammates arrive at the practice fields for the start of Wednesday morning’s training camp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their third day of training camp Wednesday, July 27, 2022, at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus practice fields on Atlantic Blvd. Syndication: Florida Times-Union

    Fantasy football bold predictions for 2022 | Ian Wharton

    Here are Ian Wharton’s — PFN’s Fantasy and Betting Analyst — bold predictions for the 2022 season, including Deshaun Watson finishing the season with strong numbers.

    Deshaun Watson finishes the season as a top-seven QB on a per-game basis

    If Deshaun Watson plays this season, he’ll be returning to the field in a new offense after missing at least 23 games. Watson was a top-five producer in Houston, but his receiving corps is worse than his previous work. Head coach Kevin Stefanski also calls a run-heavy offense, finishing 28th in passing attempts in each of his two seasons in Cleveland thus far.

    None of that will matter once Watson steps onto the field. The dynamic passer is too talented not to produce at an extremely efficient level and maximize the talent around him. Should Watson be eligible to play, Cleveland may also increase their aggressiveness in adding a speedy downfield receiver.

    Breaking into the top seven as a first-year starter in a run-first offense after missing 23 games would be an impressive achievement. Houston’s offense revolved around Watson, whereas Watson is supposed to supercharge Cleveland’s existing system.

    J.K. Dobbins ends the season as a top-12 RB

    The last time we saw J.K. Dobbins in 2020, the rookie broke out with 805 yards and nine touchdowns. His six yards per carry led all running backs by nearly half a yard. While it’s understandable to have skepticism around his return from a torn ACL, Dobbins’ ADP is RB25.

    Dobbins will greatly outperform that ranking and break into the top 12 rushers in 2022. Unlike 2020, he’s the clear leader of a backfield that benefits from Lamar Jackson’s gravity as a rusher. Baltimore has already shown they won’t platoon Dobbins in the red zone, but there’s enough volume available in their run-dominant attack for an RB1 to exist next to Jackson.

    This bold prediction is about Dobbins’ explosiveness outweighing the workload that Cam Akers, David Montgomery, and others drafted ahead of him will see. Dobbins finished 2020 as the RB17 yet didn’t take over the backfield until Week 7. Give Dobbins a full season averaging 12 carries a game, and he’ll be a top-12 back in 2022.

    Courtland Sutton will be a top-10 WR

    Given Russell Wilson’s success with big receivers throughout his career, it’s shocking to see fantasy managers sleeping on Courtland Sutton. Despite earning a Pro Bowl in 2019, the fifth-year playmaker has yet to play with an impactful quarterback and has averaged 15.2 yards per catch throughout his career.

    The combination of Wilson’s deadly accuracy and downfield passing prowess and Sutton’s excellent body control and route running will lead to similar production to what DK Metcalf had in Seattle with Wilson. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s experience working with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams should pay off for Sutton and Wilson’s connection as well.

    This will be a career year for Sutton. His previous high of six touchdowns could be doubled. Metcalf’s 967 yards and 12 touchdowns landed him as the WR10 last year, and there’s no reason to think Sutton can’t rival or eclipse those marks in 2022.

    Brandon Aiyuk will not be a top-45 WR

    There’s been a lot of hype around Brandon Aiyuk this offseason. Aiyuk is a solid talent who has finished as a top-35 receiver in each of his first two years. But even as he is enjoying his best camp yet, Aiyuk won’t finish as a top-45 receiver this year.

    Much of that prediction has little to do with Aiyuk as a player. The 49ers’ quarterback change from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance will fundamentally alter what the unit looks like. As we saw in the three games Lance played last year, he’s not an accurate or reliable passer yet.

    This will cascade to his playmakers. While Aiyuk had two of his best games with Lance at quarterback in 2021, the 49ers will have more around Lance entering this season. Expect both George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell to take some of those opportunities away from Aiyuk.

    A full season of both will put a ceiling on Aiyuk’s production. Lance’s own rollercoaster of development will also lead to less consistent results. By the end of the year, Aiyuk’s production will have disappointed.

    Albert Okwuegbunam will finish the season as a top-10 TE

    The fantasy tight end market has long been dominated by the same handful of names. Young, athletic playmakers have emerged as new faces at the position in recent years. But for players like Albert Okwuegbunam, having the right QB has been a challenge for their own development.

    Now out of Noah Fant’s shadow and in line for a breakout season with Wilson, Okwuegbunam will take a massive leap from his TE30 finish in 2021. A perfect seam threat for Wilson’s vertical passing preference, Okwuegbunam blends explosiveness with efficiency. He caught 33 of 40 passes for 10 yards a piece last year with a bad quarterback situation.

    The last time we saw Wilson with an impactful tight end was Jimmy Graham from 2015-2017. Graham averaged 56 receptions, 683 yards, and six touchdowns a year with Wilson. Just a moderate increase on his yards and touchdowns would get Okwuegbunam to sneak into the bottom of the top 10 tight ends from last year. I’m willing to bet that happens.

    Michael Thomas will be a top-13 WR

    We haven’t seen Michael Thomas play in 18 months, and fantasy managers have sent a clear message they don’t trust his health. After dealing with ankle issues since 2020, Thomas is the forgotten star at his position. On top of health concerns, Drew Brees has since retired, and Sean Payton stepped down.

    However, things could be worse for a Thomas bounce-back campaign. Jameis Winston is an aggressive downfield thrower who has always favored big receivers. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is still in place as well.

    Should he stay healthy, Thomas will regain most of his dominant form. He may not be quite as force-fed on slants as Brees would prefer, but Thomas is a freakish talent in a great situation to produce. He’s the best high-upside risk being taken in the sixth or seventh rounds of drafts.

    Fantasy football bold predictions: How do we view Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Michael Thomas in 2022?
    Jul 27, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

    Fantasy football bold predictions for 2022 | Tommy Garrett

    Here are Tommy Garrett’s — PFN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst — bold predictions for the 2022 season, including big expectations for Broncos WR Courtland Sutton.

    Courtland Sutton is this year’s Cooper Kupp and finishes inside the top-five WRs in both ppg and season-long formats

    Of all these bold predictions or claims, this is the one I feel the strongest about actually happening. Anyone who has paid attention to training camp for only a little has eventually seen one of the highlight-reel plays Courtland Sutton has made. But the funny thing is, those are daily occurrences and something I believe ticks over into the regular season.

    In 2019, Sutton had a breakout year with 72 catches, 1,112 yards, and six touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Now, over a full year removed from a 2020 torn ACL, Sutton is Russell Wilson’s new version of DK Metcalf. I think we’re all aware of how fruitful of a role this is for fantasy points.

    Last year, only 51% of Sutton’s air yards (1,509) were converted into actual yards (776). However, it is also easy to forget that Sutton got off to a solid start to the season.

    He averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game (17th) and had a 27% target share in Weeks 2-7. Paired with Wilson, one of the most accurate deep passer who led the NFL in intended air yards (9.9 per attempt), and a revamped offense under Hackett, Sutton will feast in a way we all wished Metcalf would.

    Throw in a difficult schedule which will force Denver to keep the pedal down, and Sutton will push for over 140 targets from a future Hall of Famer. Sutton has steadily moved up my rankings and now sits as my WR9, but I believe he cracks the top five.

    Bengals RB Joe Mixon will lead the NFL in rushing yards

    All eyes are on Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Rightfully so, as they are dynamic and passing gets the fans in their seats. But do not discount what Joe Mixon did last year as a fluke, as he could have an even better season in 2022.

    The Bengals running back finished the season third in total touches (334) and sixth in touches per game (20.9). In goal-line carries (16), Mixon also came in third and tied Jonathan Taylor and James Conner in red-zone touchdowns. Finishing as the RB4, Mixon rushed for 1,205 yards (third most) and 13 TDs (fourth most) on 292 carries.

    He did this on a team that was tied for 23rd in yards per carry (4.0) and ranked 15th in OL DVOA, 31st in power success rate, and 29th in neutral script pace of play. Things are much different after the Bengals spent the offseason making offensive line upgrades, acquiring La’el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras. What was once a weakness is a strength.

    Throw in the need for teams to play deep due to Chase and Higgins, and Mixon should continue to see fewer and fewer stacked boxes (18.84% in 2021 – 30th out of 50 RBs, per NFL NextGen Stats).

    As far as his competition: Jonathan Taylor finally has a QB and downgraded at OL. Derrick Henry might be on the decline. And the trio of Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Dalvin Cook are unlikely to stay healthy enough to catch Mixon if he plays in 16 to 17 games. With the field coming back to him, Mixon very well could lead the league in rushing in 2022.

    Skyy Moore will outscore JuJu Smith-Schuster in PPR points per game

    Like many, I want to be excited for JuJu Smith-Schuster. He is one of the NFL’s best personalities, and I want players like him to succeed. But I think we need to realize he is still living off his 2018 hype where he was the No. 8 WR in fantasy (296.9 PPR), averaged 18.6 points per game, led the Steelers in receptions with 111, was No. 5 in the NFL in yards (1,426), and had seven touchdowns.

    But what if the NFL told us what we need to know about Smith-Schuster? Is there reason to be concerned that a talented wide receiver who hit free agency twice during his age-24 and 25 seasons only signed two one-year contracts while others are rolling in cash? What if we, the fantasy community, view him as more of a WR1 than the NFL does? Is this not at least a thought to consider before locking in Smith-Schuster as the chosen one?

    Why can it not be Skyy Moore? He’s on the smaller side, standing around 5’9 1/2″, 195 pounds, but his talent jumps off the screen. Moore was a massive contributor for Western Michigan, soaking up 30% of the targets in his three years both on the inside (39% slot rate) and outside. That means Andy Reid can get creative with Moore, as we have seen in training camp, as he has even received backfield snaps and carries.

    Moore has dominated the headlines in camp and appears to have developed quick chemistry with Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have the third-most vacated air yards heading into 2022 at 62.1% (2,748), with Tyreek Hill accounting for 1,647 yards.

    With so little separating them right now, I’ll give the edge to Moore leading this team, but I do not expect any one player to run away with the yards as the Chiefs distribute the ball more than in years past.

    George Pickens will lead the Pittsburgh Steelers in receiving yards

    I cannot wait for the George Pickens show to come to screen near you this fall. During the offseason, I made a comment telling dynasty managers not to let Pickens fall like they allowed Tee Higgins to, only to wind up upset they let a top-10 WR pass them in the draft. Yeah, I am feeling even better about that statement.

    Outside of maybe Drake London, no rookie WR has made more headlines than Pickens. Acrobatic catches, length, speed in his breaks, all the things that were littered over his tape at Georgia. Pickens is a Teir 1 WR and only fell because of his ACL tear despite coming back and playing in the national championship. He is a different level of a receiver than they have in Pittsburgh.

    Then we dive into the current pass catchers, and I see an opportunity. Diontae Johnson is a sensational receiver. He’s just not efficient due to his role. Amongst wide receivers with 100+ targets (35), Johnson was 27th in yards per reception (10.8), 31st in yards per target (6.87), and 26th in fantasy points per target (1.6 PPR).

    Johnson also ranked 20th among receivers with at least 50 catches in yards per route run (1.89), 38th in yards per catch (10.9), 41st in explosive play rate (12.1%), and 29th in catch rate (63.3%), all with an 8.5 aDOT. His 2020 stats are even worse, which is important as it was a year without Ben Roethlisberger.

    On the other hand, Chase Claypool took a significant drop back in Year 2. The drop in scores from 11 to just two in 2021 is why Claypool’s WR37 finish felt so disappointing despite averaging 2.7 yards more per game (54.6 to 57.3). Claypool needs to develop more as a route runner.

    In fact, according to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Claypool’s regression from Year 1 to 2 is one of the largest in his database’s history. Claypool was in the 27th percentile for success rate vs. man and press coverage and 68.4% vs. zone (fifth percentile).

    On go routes, his most ran pattern, Claypool posted an alarming 44.9% success rate. In contested catches, something he needs to win given his size and route tree, he has been below 50% in each season — 46.2% in 2021 and 46.7% as a rookie.

    Pickens not only has all the skills but the path of opportunity is not as closed off as some believe in Pittsburgh. He’s bigger and more explosive than Johnson and a better route runner than Claypool. Barring injury, Pickens gets off to a hot start and leads the Steelers in receiving in 2022.

    Kadarius Toney is a top-20 receiver in PPR points per game

    After the talk of a potential trade died down, it felt like the fantasy community got back on the Kadarius Toney breakout. Against Dallas last season (10 catches for 189 yards), Toney showcased that he can be a legitimate offensive focal point. However, injuries and the offense’s collapse limited his involvement for the rest of the year.

    His 2.7 YPRR vs. man was absurdly good, coming in 13th and was only behind Ja’Marr Chase in last year’s rookie class. Before his Week 6 ankle injury, it was up to 2.93 due to his ability to be explosive after the catch. After the injury, it fell to 1.2, showing his ankle certainly hampered his upside.

    Toney is not a manufactured touch player. He is a legitimate receiver who is winning with his routes and explosiveness, not the scheme. It’s worth going back and watching the film to appreciate how talented he is and the offense let him down.

    That same offense is one of the reasons I am bullish on Toney. Now led by Brian Daboll, if the Giants pass anywhere near the rate Buffalo did (65% vs. 56%), Toney will inevitably explode as he creates an easy target for Daniel Jones through winning at the stem.

    Toney’s ceiling is immense, and at his current ADP (116 as WR47), he is one of my favorite picks in all of fantasy football. Not only can I see a top-20 finish, but I also can see a 1,000+ yard season on the horizon.

    Cole Kmet finishes as a top-six tight end

    I said this on the podcast episode going over our early tight end rankings. When I’m looking for a breakout, I’m targeting two markers: Can the tight end reach 90 targets or catch double-digit touchdowns? Why this threshold? That’s because every tight end who has finished inside the top five in PPR scoring since 2003 has hit one of those two markers.

    In half-PPR, the only exception was Mark Andrews in 2020 with 88 targets. I wish I could take credit for this, but it was a stat I saw sometime while doing offseason research, and it stuck with me so much that I had to dive in because it feels way too stable. Yet, it’s accurate.

    Ideally, you also want a tight end to be a top-two target in their offense. Think of Andrews in Baltimore, Travis Kelce in Kansas City, Darren Waller in past years, and even George Kittle. We also want them off the line and out of the blocking scheme. As an example, Andrews blocked on just 1.3% of his pass plays last year. Perfect. The deeper the aDOT, the better.

    Throw in enough of these variables, and suddenly the player pool drastically shrinks. But what if I told you there is a TE who did this last year and is going outside the top 12 tight ends at the moment? That player, ladies and gentlemen, is Cole Kmet. Last year, Kmet blocked on just 11.7% of the passing plays while carrying an 84% route participation. Kmet also saw 93 targets, a comfortable second-most on the team behind Darnell Mooney. He’s also averaged a 7.1 aDOT in his two seasons.

    Heading into Year 3, Kmet hits every marker when searching for a breakout tight end. The targets are there. He should play off the line more in 2022 in Luke Getsy’s offense. And he is the clear No. 2 target for a team that has the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. To go from TE21 to the top six would be a massive jump. But if Kmet had just had the average TD rate of the top five TEs last year (6.2%), he would have been the TE12 with 155.8 points, clearing Pat Freiermuth. Instead, Kmet had zero. This is by far the boldest of all my picks, but I am not writing it off from happening.

    Fantasy football bold predictions: How do we view Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, and Michael Thomas in 2022?
    Jan 2, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet (85) congratulates running back David Montgomery (32) after he scored a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first half at Soldier Field. Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

    Fantasy football bold predictions for 2022 | Jason Katz

    Here are Jason Katz’s — PFN’s Fantasy Analyst — bold predictions for the 2022 season, including Aaron Jones taking a backseat in Green Bay as it relates to points per game.

    Leonard Fournette finishes as a top-six running back in points per game

    My favorite bold predictions to make are ones that shouldn’t really be bold to begin with. Why is predicting last year’s overall RB4 to finish inside the top six bold at all? Well, it’s because Leonard Fournette‘s ADP is somehow outside the top 12 running backs. Fournette is locked into a three-down role in an elite offense coming off a season where he led RBs in targets per game.

    Sure, there are concerns around his injury history and a perceived decrease in offensive line depth. However, he appears to have grabbed the all-important trust of Tom Brady, both as a receiver and a pass blocker. After wrestling control of the role last year, he should continue to be the lead back for Tampa Bay in 2022.

    AJ Dillon outscores Aaron Jones in points per game

    Despite being the clear backup for over half the season, AJ Dillon wound up out-touching Aaron Jones in the red zone by the time the season was over. He finished with 45% of the team’s red-zone carries to 37.2% for Jones. He also saw 50% of the carries inside the 5-yard line, compared to 30% for Jones. There’s no reason that trend should reverse in 2022.

    Jones will still be the primary receiving back, but without Davante Adams, I expect the Packers to run a lot more at the goal line. Dillon has 15-touchdown upside, which should more than make up for Jones’ receiving advantage.

    Clyde Edwards-Helaire finishes third amongst Chiefs running backs in points per game

    History has not smiled kindly on the decision to make Clyde Edwards-Helaire the first back drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. CEH averaged 13.8 ppg as a rookie. He got worse as a sophomore, averaging 11.8 ppg, and was thoroughly outplayed by Darrel Williams. He also saw a significant decrease in red-zone carries, from 44.4% of the share as a rookie to just 15% in his second season.

    The Chiefs signed Ronald Jones, who is at least as good of a runner as CEH. They also brought back Jerick McKinnon, who’s been a very reliable receiving back in his career. Andy Reid has proven he’s willing to play his best players. That could very easily prove to be McKinnon on third down, and Jones will push for work as well.

    If CEH is a two-down runner who doesn’t catch passes, doesn’t get goal-line carries, and potentially splits that role with RoJo, he will very possibly be on fantasy waiver wires by midseason.

    Isaiah McKenzie finishes inside the top 36 in points per game

    This is contingent upon Isaiah McKenzie winning the primary slot role from Jamison Crowder. I’m not one to care about what players do at training camp, but I do care about who’s running with the first team. That’s been McKenzie.

    Betting on a 27-year-old special teamer to suddenly post WR3 numbers is definitely not a high probability wager. With that said, McKenzie has both 30.5 and 29.4-point outings on his résumé.

    The Bills’ starting slot receiver has generally seen 100 targets. If that’s McKenzie, he can easily be a better version of 2020 Cole Beasley, who finished inside the top 36. The beauty is that to find out, you’re really just investing a last-round pick. If McKenzie meets this bold prediction, he will make the fantasy managers willing to take a risk look very smart.

    Lamar Jackson dethrones Josh Allen as the overall QB1 in points per game

    If anyone is going to unseat the consensus QB1 in fantasy, it’s Lamar Jackson. He averaged 28.2 ppg in his MVP season in 2019. At his absolute best, no one can touch Jackson. Last season, everything fell apart for the Ravens. They lost their top three running backs and were starting practice-squad players on defense.

    This year, with a healthier team, Baltimore can operate more of a running offense with Jackson, who can throw for 3,000 yards and rush for another 1,000 while scoring 35+ total touchdowns.

    Jackson’s red-zone numbers from 2021 are intriguing. He took six carries inside the 5-yard line, which is as many as he saw in 2019 and 2020 combined. If the Ravens stay committed to using him at the goal line, two rushing touchdowns should be a floor for his value.

    Jalen Tolbert is the highest-scoring rookie wide receiver in points per game

    Rarely is a third-round rookie the best fantasy scoring receiver amongst his draft class. However, the stars are aligning for Jalen Tolbert. Amari Cooper is in Cleveland. Cedrick Wilson Jr. is in Miami. James Washington broke his foot. And Michael Gallup is going to miss at least the first couple of weeks of the season. Tolbert, therefore, has a great chance to open the season as the Cowboys’ WR2 opposite CeeDee Lamb.

    Last year, the offense supported two top 30 wide receivers and three inside the top 48. Tolbert has a great opportunity to return that sort of value this year. When talent meets situation and opportunity, success often follows.

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