Due to the holiday weekend this past week, I am getting to “Bold Predictions a little later than usual. That being said, I hope everyone had a great time and enjoyed some good quality time celebrating our independence and some quality food and beverage. As we move along, it’s time to take a look at the AFC North, which is always a battle and fun to watch these teams Duke it out. A little bit of foreshadowing there. That being said, let’s get right into the predictions for 2016!
Baltimore Ravens- Look out for the Ravens’ backfield this year and hope that you hit a home-run if you select any of the running backs there. I fully expect Kenneth Dixon to be the man on the Ravens, but not right away. It will take a few weeks, but then he will start to see an uptick in opportunities, but don’t expect a payoff right away. The guy I want to talk about going into 2016 is Kamar Aiken. The Ravens did add Mike Wallace and do have Steve Smith Sr. returning this season, and who knows what’s going on with Breshad Perriman, but don’t forget that Aiken had 75 receptions last season and I don’t see him going under 1,000 yards this year with a minimum of eight touchdowns. There’s going to be a lot of mouths to feed and some frustration, but Aiken will be the most productive player in that offense, come 2016.
Cincinnati Bengals- With so much opportunity in Cincinnati, I’m looking at Giovani Bernard to have 75-80 receptions this year to go along with another 200 carries. He should see upwards of 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016 with Hue Jackson gone and no one there to harp on Hill until he produces with large volume. Bernard will be stolen in fantasy leagues in 2016 and will be the reason a lot of teams win their championship. Think Devonta Freeman in 2015, except you’ll have to draft Bernard to cash in on this ticket. I also see A.J. Green grabbing 15 touchdowns this season to go with 1,600 yards with a ridiculous amount of targets coming his way with the potential of Eifert being out for some games.
Cleveland Browns- I’ve got a couple of players that are going to be surprises this season. The first one shouldn’t be a surprise, Duke Johnson. This guy is going to be a complete stud under Hue Jackson. Think of a more powerful Giovani Bernard that will be utilized more than he did Bernard. I like him as a top-12 running back in PPR leagues in 2016, where he should be double-digit touchdowns and over 1,400 all-purpose yards. Now who is going to come out and play at the receive position? I know, Terrelle Pryor. Let’s not forget that this guy is a complete athletic freak and now has one year under his belt learning the receiver position. People want to anoint Braxton Miller a freak, which he is in his own right, but Pryor also was a quarterback who played at Ohio State and is 6’4, 225 lbs. Oh, and did I forget to mention he blazed a 4.38 40-yard dash? This guy is going to become a target for whoever throws the ball in Cleveland this season. Since he only had one reception last season, I’m going to say a bold prediction is to the tune of 55 catches, 750 yards, and seven touchdowns. One guy I want everyone to keep an eye on is Seth DeValve. Gary Barnidge is getting up there in age and has had some head injuries, and I expect Jackson to mold DeValve into his Tyler Eifert in Cleveland. It may not be soon, but he will be a player to watch for dynasty.
Pittsburgh Steelers- So much potential here in this offense that you never know who’s going to produce. Well yes we do, Antonio Brown is. He is going to be the No. 1 pick in a lot of leagues and doesn’t need mention here. I think one guy who will disappoint this season will be Ladarius Green since the Steelers have never really done a good job getting their tight end involved, though I will admit that this is a bold prediction because they are without Martavis Bryant this year and need to do new things to keep this offense moving. Don’t be surprised if his yards total is way down and his touchdowns are at 10. For the record, I did say he is scoring 10 touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell scares me with his injury history, but if he plays all 16 games this year, He will be top-5 in all fantasy formats, no doubt. That being said, make sure you have DeAngelo Williams on your team even if you don’t own Bell, but if you draft bell, reach on Williams if you have to. Many people are trying to figure out who is going to pick up the slack behind Brown this season with Bryant out, but look no further. Sammie Coates is going to be Martavis Bryant 2.0. Look for a nice 65+ receptions to go along with 850 yards and nine touchdowns. This offense is going to be cruising still.
The AFC North is always a battle to watch, but I have to look at it as the Steeler’s division to lose. Their defense has improved and their offense was always deadly. Who knows how the Eifert injury affects the Bengal offense and they also lost their No. 2 and 3 receivers in the off-season. Not to mention the amazing play calling of Hue Jackson. I do expect a hard fought battle between three of the teams, and a major improvement from the Browns. This will not be a cake-walk for the Steelers and I would not be surprised to see the Bengals or Ravens knock them off.
As always, I appreciate those of you who read this and if you have any feedback, good or bad, feel free to reach out to me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FantasyBold.