Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football: 10 bold predictions for the 2016 campaign

Fantasy Football: 10 bold predictions for the 2016 campaign

A big part of the fun of fantasy football is the difference of opinions and the debate that follows.

And really, that's all they are - opinions. Even fantasy experts are just conveying their opinions, though they're using facts and knowledge to craft these stances.

As far as we know, nobody has yet discovered how to accurately predict the future, so all we can do is give it our best shot with the information at hand.

This is the time of the year that makes it so exciting to deliver some outrageous opinions - bold predictions that are the "hot takes" of the fantasy football world.

Here are 10 leading into Week 1:

1. Tevin Coleman will outscore Devonta Freeman.

This one isn't all that bold if you've been paying attention. Freeman struggled badly down the stretch, to the tune of just 71 points the final six weeks of the fantasy season (including playoffs), which included a week in which he was injured and did not suit up. But what happened in that game? Coleman rumbled for 110 yards on 18 carries (6.1 ypc) and received two targets (though no catches). Coleman was widely considered the top back of the two prior to last season and talent always has a way of rising to the top. Coleman was drafted on average 138th while Freeman went in the first round (12th ADP) in many leagues. — Tony Andracki

2. Donte Moncrief will finish as a Top 10 receiver, ahead of teammate TY Hilton.

I'm all in on Moncrief this season and I believe strongly in the Colts' passing game. The defense is rough, the running game is spearheaded by a 33-year-old back (Frank Gore) and Andrew Luck looks healthy and ready to roll. That all adds up to a potentially monster campaign for at least one Indy receiver, and I think Moncrief is the guy. He's not the same type of receiver as Allen Robinson, but I'm betting on a similar breakout. —TA

3. Coby Fleener will finish as the top tight end.

Fleener is an excellent receiving tight end, as evidenced by his 774 yards and 8 tuddies in 2014, the last time he was on a high-powered offense (you can't call the 2015 Colts that with a banged-up Luck and aging Matt Hasselbeck at QB). Fleener is entering his fifth NFL season and it could finally be time for his absolute breakout, away from target-stealing Dwayne Allen. We all know Drew Brees loves his tight ends and the Saints offense made 34-year-old Ben Watson relevant (74 rec, 109 targets, 825 yds, 6 TDs) last year. Imagine what Brees and Co. can do with a guy as gifted as Fleener, who will be six years younger than Watson this season. As for Fleener overtaking Gronk as the No. 1 TE, it's more so a gamble that Gronk can't stay healthy for the full season. —TA

4. RG3 will be a regular fantasy starter by year's end.

This prediction is kind of two-fold. Not only do I think Robert Griffin III is going to put up numbers this year, but I also believe he will still be healthy down the stretch. Just a gut call. Obviously RG3 has not been on the fantasy radar for a while - last as a bonafide starter in 2013. He still has talent, he provides rushing stats at the QB position and he has some underrated weapons (especially when Josh Gordon returns). This is a boom-or-bust pick, but the upside is still there and considering you probably didn't even have to draft him, RG3 can become a surprise addition to fantasy lineups this season. — TA

5. DeAndre Washington will outscore Latavius Murray in PPR leagues.

The simple analysis here is I believe DeAndre Washington will be a much bigger part of the passing game than Latavius Murray and in PPR leagues, Washington will be the back you want. The Raiders are an ascending offense with a passing game as a clear strength and I believe the rookie will carve out a major role as Derek Carr's checkdown option. — TA

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

6. Dion Lewis will be a Top 25 RB in PPR leagues.

This one is quite bold, as it's a guarantee Lewis will not play in the Patriots' first six games by virtue of the PUP list. There are also projections Lewis may not return until as late as Week 10 after his knee injury. But after the surgery Aug. 21, the initial prognosis was an 8-10 week timetable, which would put his return in the Week 7-8 range. I'm optimistic here on Lewis' comeback and whenever he does see the field, I think he is going to be a top back every week in PPR leagues and wind up vaulting up the board amid a wildly inconsistent RB field. In only seven games last year, Lewis tallied 115 points (an average of more than 16 per week) and was the No. 40 running back before he went down. If he comes back to play half the season, he could wind up among the top backs in the league - and he'll be producing down the stretch and into the fantasy playoffs. Especially for fantasy teams with IR spots on the roster, Lewis is well worth the stash. — TA

7. Jeremy Langford will return RB1 value

I get it. Most people are petrified of John Fox's history of using a running back-by-committee approach. You can use that logic, but honestly there are only a handful of running backs that aren't in a timeshare. For his sixth-round average draft position, I'll gladly take Langford over guys like DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Matt Jones — all guys with injury history. Langford will get pushed by rookie running back Jordan Howard, and use that competition to return monster value in 2016. — Scott Krinch

8. Christine Michael will finally live up to the hype

I've been a card-carrying member of the Michael hype train since he entered the NFL in 2013. For three year, I've been waiting and waiting for the train to leave the station. It's alright if you want to be skeptical, but I really believe the train is about to come full steam ahead. After bouncing around three teams last season, Michael finally showed signs of life as he rushed for 212 yards in the last four games of 2015. Michael followed that up with a monster preseason and has been drawing rave reviews from Seattle's coaching staff. He's in line to start Week 1 with Thomas Rawls nursing an injury. This offense fits a power runner, and Michael has a chance to run away with the job. I'm a believer. — SK

9. Chris Hogan will become a must-start FLEX play every week

Hogan fits the stereotype of a typical Patriots wide receiver. He's short, he's fast and there's one other trait I can't seem to remember. The Patriots signing of Hogan went completely under the radar, but I think his move from Buffalo to New England is going to pay off immediate dividends. Hogan is behind both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the depth chart, but he should see significant playing time as the team's No. 3 wideout — and with the injury history of the two starters it wouldn't be surprising to see Hogan carve out a starting role. Hogan has a knack for getting open, but he's always had a problem with drops. If he can improve, even slightly, I see him having a career year in that offense. Use a late-round pick or snatch him off your league's waiver-wire. — SK

10. Jameis Winston will return QB1 value

We pegged Winston as a sneaky QB1 last season, and he ended up finishing as fantasy's 13th ranked quarterback. Hey, we weren't too far off. With a year under his belt, I really believe Winston is destined for fantasy greatness. He's got an abundance of weapons on offense, and will likely be playing from behind quite often this season. Save one of your late round picks to use on Winston and you won't be sorry. — SK

D Rose is training at the Bulls' practice facility

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USA TODAY

D Rose is training at the Bulls' practice facility

Don't get too excited, Bulls fans, but Derrick Rose is playing basketball in Chicago in a Bulls facility.

The former NBA MVP was spotted training at the Advocate Center, the Bulls' practice facility in Chicago.

https://twitter.com/RaeJohnsonBC/status/994336940156579841

Rose just finished a partial season with the Minnesota Timberwolves (a.k.a. the TimberBulls), playing under former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, and seemed to regain some of his former glory by averaging 14.2 points per game in five playoff games off the bench. He is now an unrestricted free agent.

Could this mean he is going to return to Chicago for another stint with the Bulls? Probably not.

Rose is, of course, a native Chicagoan and the Advocate Center opened in time for Rose's last two years with the Bulls. Both the city and the facility are familiar to Rose, which makes it an ideal place to train in the offseason. That surely won't stop hardcore Rose fans in Chicago from wishing it into an omen.

All the best moments from the Cubs-Marlins benches clearing incident

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USA TODAY

All the best moments from the Cubs-Marlins benches clearing incident

The Cubs and Marlins delivered a benches clearing incident Tuesday night at Wrigley Field but instead of tempers boiling over, a ticklefight ensued a few feet from home plate.

Lewis Brinson lined a hard single to right field off Cubs pitcher Rob Zastryzny in the fourth inning. Ben Zobrist came up firing with an absolute beauty of a throw to home plate to nab Derek Dietrich trying to score:

Some things to focus on:

First off, what a throw from a guy that's about to turn 37 later this month and has played a lot more second base than outfield since joining the Cubs.

Secondly, it was interesting and amusing to see the bullpen doors open and both teams come sprinting out from under the bleachers to join the foray. A couple years ago, a benches clearing incident would've just resulted in each team's bullpen coming from a couple hundred feet down the foul line.

Willson Contreras was MOVING out of the Cubs dugout, looking like he was ready to hand out some serious punishment to protect his fellow catcher.

But instead of an actual fist fight, however, we got some comedy gold, like Bryzzo teaming up to play-fight with former teammate Starlin Castro.

First there was Kris Bryant tickling Castro:

Shortly after that moment, Anthony Rizzo jokingly pushed Castro from behind and the two players laughed it off:

Javy Baez loved it all:

Nobody was ejected and the coaches and umpires were able to quickly gain control of the situation, which couldn't have been that difficult when opposing players are out there tickling each other and laughing.