Bold Takes

Written By: Austin Lee                 Twitter – @AustinLee365FF

Ladies and gentlemen, the season is almost upon us! There truly is no better time of the year. The weather is cooling off, the trees are beginning to turn, football is back and fantasy drafts are taking place. As a long time fan of fantasy football and fantasy podcasts, one of my favorite things has always been listening to or reading everyone’s bold takes on the upcoming season. It’s our first full season here at 365 Fantasy Football and I simply wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t get in on the fun.

Sam Darnold Will Finish As A Top-15 QB

Darnold has never finished higher than the QB25 and that was his rookie season. He slipped back to the QB27 in year 2 and QB31 in year 3. The kid has never played in more than 13 games in a season. Darnold certainly takes some of the blame, but doesn’t deserve it all. 

Part of the issue rests on the shoulders of Adam Gase. The dude is quite possibly the worst coach in the history of the NFL. Darnold isn’t the only quarterback to regress each year under Adam Gase, either. Ryan Tannehill went from being the QB17 the year before Gase took over to the QB27 in 2016. He missed 2017 and came back as the QB30 in Gase’s final season as the coach of the Dolphins. He was traded to Tennessee in 2019 and the rest is history.

Darnold is going to an even better situation in terms of offensive weapons at his disposal and it’s a pass-heavy offense as compared to the run-first philosophy Tannehill found himself in. While most of these weapons are new to him, he has a security blanket in Robby Anderson, who was his favorite target during their time together in New York. 

Darnold has looked really good throughout camp and preseason and has everything needed to produce top-15 numbers. This is a make or break season for his career and from the reports out of Carolina, he is as motivated as he’s ever been. If he can’t put up numbers with the talents of Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr. around him then there’s a huge problem. 

Jonathan Taylor Will Finish Outside The Top-10

As a Colts fan, this hurts to speak this into existence. It serves as a good reminder, though, that you have to remove your personal biases and look at the facts to put your fantasy team in the best position to succeed. The fact is Jonathan Taylor is good, but his numbers are drastically skewed.

Through weeks 1-13 last season with no real threat to his workload and running behind a healthy offensive line that was regarded as one of the best in the league, Jonathan Taylor was the RB16 with an average YPC of 3.69 and just 4 rushing touchdowns. The truth of Jonathan Taylor in 2020 is his numbers were greatly skewed by his final 5 games running against terrible defenses (HOU, LV, HOU, PIT, JAX) where he was able to boost those numbers to 6.44 YPC and 7 rushing touchdowns over that span. 

Recency bias is a real thing in fantasy football and every year there are a couple of players that disappoint based on the hype of how they finished the previous season. Jonathan Taylor could very well be one of those players this year with his current ADP, Marlon Mack returning and actually looking surprisingly good, offensive line is falling apart and a highly questionable quarterback that has his own track record of injuries. Oh, and their schedule is absolutely BRUTAL. There’s nothing about Taylor’s situation that makes me feel comfortable projecting him as a top-10 running back for the 2021 season. 

Marvin Jones Will Finish As A Top-25 Wide Receiver 

I don’t know why Marvin Jones is so disrespected in fantasy drafts every year. This is a veteran that can still ball at the highest of levels. Jones was quietly the WR5 over the entire second half of 2020 with a banged up Matthew Stafford that was in and out of the lineup. This is particularly important because he was the WR1 for Detroit for most of the season with Kenny Golladay sidelined with injury. Any time that Jones has been forced to step up as the WR1 for his team, he’s delivered.

That’s exactly the spot he finds himself in this season. Jacksonville had $100M of cap space and had their pick of the litter for a loaded free agency class that included many big names and the coaching staff hand-picked Marvin Jones. I expect rookie sensation, Trevor Lawrence, to spread the ball around a bit to his talented receiving options, but so far through camp, Jones has been the primary target and will continue to be, especially in the red zone. Red zone efficiency has always been Jones’ bread and butter. Of all receivers in 2020, Jones had the third highest TD rate on end zone targets only behind Cooper Kupp and Calvin Ridley. 

Raheem Mostert Will Be A Top-15 Running Back Through The First Half Of The Season

Raheem Mostert really is in the perfect situation. This offense is loaded with receiving weapons – Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and a fully healthy George Kittle. That alone guarantees that defenses can’t load the box to stop the run, but you couple in the fact that this offense is orchestrated by a Shanahan and you have the recipe for elite fantasy production. Oh yeah, and Trey Lance will be taking over sooner than later which is only going to open things up even more for Mostert. 

Mostert possesses elite speed as you can see in the above tweet. His speed to the edge is incredibly dangerous in this offense and the key to unlocking the full potential of it. 8.7% of Mostert’s run go for 15+ yards. That is an insane clip that is better than Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. The early season schedule for the 49ers is incredibly juicy as well with matchups against Detroit, Philadelphia, Green Bay and Seattle.

The only hiccup with Mostert is his injury history. For his career, Mostert averages only 9.5 games played per season. Trey Sermon is there now and this will be a timeshare, but Mostert is the starter and when this offense is doing what it’s supposed to do, Mostert is the one on the field. No, he isn’t your typical workhorse type of running back, but he doesn’t have to be. He legitimately only needs 10-15 touches per game to produce elite numbers. In 2019, he wasn’t even the starter and produced 5 top-12 weeks with only playing roughly 50% of snaps.