The meek shall inherit the Earth, but the bold shall win fantasy football championships.
Sometimes you have to throw common sense out the window and take some big risks to win some big money. I’m talking swashbuckling, wear-a-red-cape-to-the-Running-of-the-Bulls boldness.
Like the Saints head coach Sean Peyton’s bold call for an onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV. Or the Buccaneers’ bold signing of 42-year-old Tom Brady to a $30 million contract. Or head coach Doug Pederson’s bold decision to run the “Philly Special” in Super Bowl LII.
All three bold choices lead to championships. That’s what’s at state for you to win your fantasy league this year.
Jared Goff will be top five quarterback
Goff gets no respect. Despite finishing as ninth-rated QB last year, he’s still being drafted after the likes of the aging Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson — and even the unproven Jordan Love. But if you are bold, you’ll snatch Goff up as your starting QB. He had the sixth-most passing yards in the NFL last season with 4,438, which included five 300-yard games. Yes, he underwhelmed with 29 TD passes, but only because RB Jamaal Williams had an unthinkable 17 touchdowns on the ground. Shift just six of those scores to Goff and he vaults into the 35-TD range with the likes of Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. Even better news is, Goff has seven of his last eight games in comfy air-conditioned domes. That’s just in time for your fantasy playoff push and championship matchups. Draft Goff. It was a bold man that first ate an oyster from the Lowcountry waters.
Jamaal Williams will have most RB fantasy points by Week Three
No running back’s success was more shocking last year than Jamaal Williams. His 17 scores set a new Detroit Lions record for rushing touchdowns in a season, surpassing Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (16). Combined with his 1,066 yards, Williams finished as the 12th best fantasy RB. The 28-year-old is now on the New Orleans Saints, his third team in eight years, but he might be in the best spot of his career. Alvin Kamara has been suspended for the first three games of the season, leaving Williams as the bell cow for contests against the defensively challenged Titans (31st in 2022), Panthers (22nd) and Packers (21st). Enjoy the ride with Jamaal in those first three weeks, and feel free to trade him to a sucker in your league when Kamara comes back. Draft Williams. The bold squirrel is not afraid to show he’s nuts.
Bijan Robinson will be No. 1 fantasy back
In my sleepers and busts column two weeks ago, I recommended Tyler Allgier as a player you can draft as a safe RB2. The Falcons run the ball so much, there’s enough volume for everyone. But take Bijan Robinson with your first-round pick. Yes, he’s that good. I don’t care if you have the first pick or the ninth pick, grab yourself some Bijan. He will outscore both Christian McCaffrey (who usually gets injured anyway) and Austin Ekeler. Saquon Barkley? Derrick Henry? It is to laugh. Atlanta’s schedule is very running back-friendly, facing only one top 10 run defense (Tennessee) all season. When Robinson isn’t tearing through holes on the line of scrimmage, he’ll be darting past linebackers catching the ball. Little known fact: Bijan’s 9.85 relative athletic score (out of 10.0) is one of the highest all-time grades for a running back. Since he’s a rookie, when drafting Robinson, you will boldly go where no man has gone before.
TJ Hockenson will be top two TE
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The Lions weren’t willing to pay Hockenson $10 million in 2023, so they shipped him and two fourth-round draft picks to Minnesota for second- and third-rounders. After shedding Honolulu blue for primetime purple, Hockenson averaged six receptions for 60 yards in his first nine games. Doing the math, that’s 102 receptions for 1,020 yards over a full season. Those are Travis Kelce numbers, and you can get Hockenson in the draft about four rounds later. While your competitors are reaching for George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, and Mark Andrews, let T.J give your squad a little TLC. Draft Hockenson. The solid iceberg was bolder than the Titanic.
Darren Waller will be Giants’ leading receiver
Last week I advised to not get too carried away with preseason performances. But that was for no-name NFL neophytes playing in the fourth quarter. What I witnessed in the first drive of the Giants-Panthers game was impressive. Daniel Jones, aka “Danny Dimes,” threw nothing but dimes on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured four of his first six passes going to the Giant’s $17 million investment: TE Darren Waller. He caught three passes for 30 yards (he lost control of the fourth after a hard defensive hit). Waller looked uncover-able, and Jones was en fuego. Curiously, the Giant TE to score on that first drive was not Waller. The honor went to TE Daniel Bellinger. But he was only open because Waller was doubled-teamed on the play, leaving Bellinger alone. The defense is that afraid of the G-Men’s new toy. Draft Waller. He was the second highest scoring fantasy TE as recently as 2020. The bold do not fear eating the macaroni salad at the end of a picnic.
Younghoe Koo will be top fantasy kicker
A falcon nest-site, known as an eyrie, is often located on the edge of an inaccessible tree, cliff or building. The Atlanta Falcons will be playing most of their games in an eyrie-like setting, with 11 of their 17 games played in the undisturbed confines of domed stadiums. Additionally, the Falcons have but two possible bad weather games: December matches in New York and Chicago. This all bodes well for Koo, one of the best kickers in the NFL. I’d even draft him over Justin Tucker this year. Koo had 16 FGs in his last seven games. He had seven 50-yard FGs and six of them were kicked in, you guessed it, a dome. If your league still rosters kickers, draft Koo. A cucumber is not bold until it becomes a pickle.
No Chiefs receiver will finish in Top 20
Patrick Mahomes was brutally honest with us last year when he told the press that no WR for the Chiefs would be a steady fantasy producer. He wasn’t kidding. Though Mahomes was the leading fantasy QB in 2022, his top wide receivers were in the back of the pack. Rostering JuJu Smith-Shuster (27th), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (54th) and Mecole Hardman (80th) was an act of futility. For all you truthers singing the praises of second-year men Kadarius Toney and Sky Moore, I hope you enjoy their 40 receptions for 400 yards each. Do not draft a KC wide receiver. The cat that taunts the dog is not bold. It is a fool.
Aaron Rodgers will be sacked 50 times
The Jets gave up 42 sacks last year, which wasn’t a disaster. Thirteen teams including the Eagles and Bengals gave up more. But things don’t look very promising right now because their offensive line is… well… very offensive. In a joint practice with the Buccaneers last week, Aaron Rodgers was sacked six times in just 10 dropbacks. Rodgers told the press afterward to “relax,” and his concerns about the offensive line are “pretty low.” But with an expected return to his gunslinging ways, the offensive line will have to give the stationery Rodgers more time to find targets on this talented receiving corps. He hasn’t been sacked 50 times since 2012 in Green Bay. The last thing the soon-to-be 40-year-old wants to be called is Rodger the Dodger. Leave Aaron for other owners. The deer is only as bold as the headlights it avoids.
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Bill Reinhard is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.