Josh Allen will be a scoring machine
Matt Harmon: Josh Allen will finish top-three among quarterbacks in combined rushing/receiving touchdowns. The ecosystem surrounding Allen has done a complete 180 since he entered the league. As a first-year quarterback, when Allen scanned the field, the top-three options in the passing game were Zay Jones and his sub 40 percent catch rate, Kelvin Benjamin and LeSean McCoy. Don’t worry, such tempting ancillary players like UDFA Robert Foster and the ghost of Charles Clay were also in the mix.
Now, Allen will fling footballs to elite separation wide receiver duo John Brown and Stefon Diggs while Cole Beasley gives him layups from the slot. That’s going to go a long way in boosting Allen’s passing numbers, especially a touchdown rate that’s hovered around 3.8 percent from 2018 to 2019. It’s not outrageous for Allen with this receiver corps to see that kicked up into a range north of 5.5 percent. And we know Allen can add eight to nine scores on the ground, a feat he’s accomplished in both his NFL seasons. If all the ingredients hit, we could see a 35 to 40 total touchdown season for Allen. I can't believe I just wrote those words and meant it.
Stafford will pass for 5,300 yards (give or take)
Andy Behrens: Seriously, Matthew Stafford was on pace for 5,000 yards and 38 TDs before last year’s injury. His receiving corps is excellent, plus the Lions have added an electric receiving option to the backfield in rookie D’Andre Swift. Stafford is back in an offense that takes advantage of his weapons-grade arm strength, too. He was a draft steal. His setup is tremendous.
Everyone is sleeping on Tyrod Taylor
Liz Loza: A mobile QB who knows the Chargers’ system and rarely turns the ball over, Taylor is surrounded by playmakers who will drag him into plus production. For the three years (2015-2017) he was in Buffalo, Tyrod was at the helm of a talent-poor Bills squad ... and the Virginia Tech product never finished outside of the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks, averaging 525 rushing yards per season. There’s no denying he’s a bridge for the Chargers, but current reports indicate that Justin Herbert is far from ready. With a reworked offensive line and given a solid strength of schedule, Taylor figures to out-produce the likes of Jared Goff and, ironically, Baker Mayfield. He’s my QB16.
Jonathan Taylor carries fantasy managers to titles
Dalton Del Don: It's going to require patience, and you'll be annoyed when Marlon Mack starts in Week 1, but Taylor is an elite prospect who would've been a top-five draft pick in previous eras. He now gets to run behind the NFL's best offensive line and against one of the league's softest run schedules. Mack isn't even in the same stratosphere as Taylor, who's going to take over the lead back role and carry fantasy managers to titles over the second half of the season. Taylor will be a consensus early first-round fantasy pick in 2021.
Patriots finish with a losing record
Scott Pianowski: Bill Belichick is the best coach of his generation, and perhaps the best coach of all time. But he’d be the first to admit that you need players to win games, and this year, he doesn’t have the full arsenal. There have been several losses on defense, both with free-agency hits and Covid opt-outs. Maybe Belichick and Josh McDaniels can fix Cam Newton, but the new quarterback will likely struggle with the same mediocre skill-position cast that held Tom Brady down in the second half last year. Buffalo has a better roster, while Miami and New York could be improved. The rest of the schedule is trickier than usual. New England doesn’t get the AFC East title in the mail this season.
If this was merely a predictions piece, I’d tell you to go under the Patriots win total and call it a day. But it’s Bold Predictions, so we’ll give it a little extra english. As for the fantasy takeaway, I’m avoiding this roster at the tables. James White at ADP is fine, maybe N’Keal Harry late. The defense has been overrated all summer; appreciate how game-script dependent the DST slot is. I see several quarterbacks I like more than Newton. And Julian Edelman, into an age-34 season, looks like a risky bet. Belichick will be back in the championship hunt someday, but it won’t be in 2020.